21 March 2019

Liberia: Minister Murray Underscores Importance of Sustainable Use of Marine Resources

Liberia's Minister of Mines and Energy, Gesler E. Murray, said the protection and sustainable use of marine resources are cardinal steps to a healthy environment and, as such, everyone should ensure that the basin of the ocean remains clean.

Murray, who declared the historical Blue Oceans Conference (BOC) opened in Monrovia on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, stressed the need for political commitment, and new partnerships in promoting the "Blue Ocean Environment."

"We need strong political leadership -- political will and commitment and new partnerships, based on the existing legal framework," he added.

He said there is an urgent need to redeem it from pollution, and promote a better ocean economy in the country.

"Oceans provide food, energy, water, jobs and economic benefits for people in every country, even the ones that are landlocked, which are a crucial buffer-against climate change and a massive resource for sustainable development," he said.

Murray made the statement at the start of the BOC, which is being organized by the Liberian government in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia and Conservation International (CI).

Murray said that rising sea levels threaten Liberia-and the West African region more broadly, thus becoming more acidic; causing coral bleaching and reducing biodiversity.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Executive Director, Dr. Nathaniel T. Blama, stressed the need for a sustained and universal commitment to keep moving forward.

Blama said that the conference will discuss new ways to monitor, and address climate change and the ocean.

"We are going to examine innovative means for mitigating the flow of pollution from land to ocean, and we will continue to outline further plans for the West African community to come together to preserve our fish stocks and prevent illegal fishing," he said.

Charles Gono, Deputy Commissioner for Technical Services at the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), said the ongoing conference is of great importance, because it is the second largest flag state in the world with over 4,000 vessels flying over its oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and other water bodies.

"Liberia is aware of the importance of combating and mitigating marine pollution, reducing emissions to limit climate change and (ocean acidification) and its critical role in setting and implementing policies to reach national target," Gono said.

Dr. Sebastian Toreng, CI executive vice president, said the conference is about how the world can turn the threats to ocean health into opportunities for people, communities, companies and the governments.

"It is about how we can generate social and economic improvements through making fisheries and aquaculture sustainable. It is about how we turn efforts to prevent marine pollution into an opportunity for businesses and income, and it is about how we can best harness the promise of the blue economy for Africa and her people," Sebastian said.

Madam Carin Jamtin, Director General of the Swedish Development Corporation (SIDA), said that the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources corresponds with SIDA's mission to reduce poverty in the world.

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