The Jakarta Post
The 2018 Our Ocean Conference (OOC) kicked off in Bali with growing calls for all of the world’s inhabitants to play a role in protecting the ocean.
Hundreds of people, with gloves and empty sacks, gathered on Sunday morning at Kuta Beach to take part in a beach cleanup activity as part of the OOC events.
Elementary school children, activists and representatives of consumer goods manufacturers were among the crowd that enthusiastically searched for trash along the beach, along with Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti and Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi.
“We all have a role to play, whether you are a student, organization [civil society group member], business player or a government [official]. This [marine litter] is not just a problem in Indonesia; this is a global problem,” said 17-year-old Melati Wijsen, who started Bye Bye Plastic Bags about five years ago.
To demonstrate Indonesia’s commitment to marine protection, similar beach cleanup activities were held simultaneously on Sunday on about 100 other beaches across the country, which has been ranked as the world’s second-biggest plastic waste producer.
“This event might be a small contribution [to the global campaign to protect the ocean], but I’m certain that this can inspire others to clear beaches, particularly of plastic litter,” Minister Retno said. “The ocean is not a huge trash can. The ocean is our life.”
Sunday’s event was also marked by the simultaneous release of 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings into the ocean on Kuta Beach.
The main events of the OOC will start on Monday, with Indonesia set to push for a joint effort to create a tracking mechanism for the 663 commitments the OOC participants made during past conferences, particularly those regarding marine protected areas, said Susi.
Marine protected areas are considered essential to maintaining the sustainability of ocean resources that can contribute to food and protein security.
“Should the tracking mechanism exist, it should portray consistency and [include] consequences [on how well each participating country realizes their own commitments],” Susi said, adding that she expected the forum to produce a committee to oversee the monitoring scheme.
The rights of a country to use marine resources in certain areas have long been stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, however, Susi argued that the marine resources of one country affected resources in other waters — a case in point being migratory fish species such as protein-rich tuna.
Thus, Susi said future maritime security might no longer focus on resolving conflicts driven by politics or ideology, but rather on marine border disputes stemming from the need for food security.
“Because marine borders will be about territories where people can seek and utilize marine [food] resources,” she said.
The two-day main event will bring together 1,900 participants from 37 countries, including six state leaders, private companies and at least 200 NGOs, to discuss their contributions for a healthy ocean.
The conference, with the theme “Our Ocean, Our Legacy”, will delve into six pivotal issues: marine protected areas, climate change, maritime security, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution and sustainable blue economy — the first three issues are set to be discussed on Monday.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is scheduled to open the conference on Monday.