James Alex Michel. Rethinking The Oceans.

(St.Paul,MN:Paragon House, 2016).

The United Nations  held a high-level conference in New York; 5-9 June 2016 devoted to , James Alex Michel; long-time President of the multi-island Republic of Seychelles (2004-2016); has developed many themes on ocean use in his important book Rethinking The Oceans.

President James Alex Michel highlights a double theme. The first is the necessary protection of the oceans from pollution: waste, oil pollution, plastics, and chemical run-off from fields treated with pesticides and heavy amounts of fertilizers. 

Although there are increasing legal regulations, waste, including scrap metal, chemicals, acids, and radioactive materials are being dumped into the sea. There is a need for a wholesale cleanup of past damage; which will require a high level of political commitment, economic investment and the use of appropriate scientific knowledge. 

As President Michel notes “If the future of the oceans is to be safeguarded, stopping the flow of waste is now the main task in hand.” 

Blue Economy.

The second theme; that he  develops is what he calls the”Blue Economy“; the wise use of the resources of the oceans for the good of all; but with a special emphasis; on those who live directly from ocean resources. The world’s demand for fish is increasing as population and income grow. Seafood is the fastest growing food commodity that is traded globally.

Today; industrial fishing methods have overwhelmed the ecosystem of some species. Even with the application of regulations; such as those of the European Union; much of the oceans is beyond surveillance; and illegal and bad practices have continued.

With fewer supplies; prices will rise and fishermen will use more advanced technology such as radar and drones. President James Alex Michel   stresses the role of “artisaal fisheries”; people living in fishing villages; often relatively small, tight-knit communities – an important way of life in many coastal areas.

Likewise; attention must be paid to other groups living on the sea coasts. In certain areas; there are mangroves; and mangrove management can be important to protect against coastal erosions.

Sun, Sea and Sex.

The relationship between the sea and the tourist industry is increasingly important. “Sun, sea and sex” is always seeking new vacation areas; and there are relatively few places that can now be “discovered”. Tourism has become one of the major players in a globalized world economy. Yet a real challenge is to ensure; that a fair proportion of the revenue generated goes to the local population. Moreover; a balance has to be found between the demands of mass tourism; and the protection of the environment.

As President James Alex Michel sets out clearly “The Blue Economy is about intelligent growth, social inclusion; and empowerment in a world that is increasingly challenged by a changing climate…Used wisely; our ocean resources can help address poverty, food security, sustainable livelihood and conservation…The concept (of the Blue Economy) has resonated well amongst policy makers and environmentalists alike; who are grappling with issues of sustainable development. 

It is a powerful concept but; no matter how much it makes sense; nothing will happen without tireless advocacy and negotiation. It takes time to disseminate new ideas to the world’s citizens.”  Rethinking The Oceans is a most useful presentation for continuing advocacy.

By Rene Wadlow. President of Association of World Citizens.

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