OECS Commission says oceans facing the brunt of climate change

save our islands

The head of the OECS Commission’s Ocean Governance Unit (OGU) in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Dr. Asha Singh says ‘Blue Economy’ driven by the use of marine resources will play a pivotal role in the near future as resources on the earth are getting exhausted.

Speaking at a side event held at the Caribbean Pavilion at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21), Dr. Singh said the OGU is leading efforts in the sub-region to develop the blue economy: “The ocean for us in the OECS is our last frontier for economic development. It’s an incredible real estate as we look at finding ways to develop.”

Noting that a lot of attention is being placed on the marine environment for its benefits for example, the pharmaceutical benefits, Dr. Singh highlighted that one of the leading cancer-fighting drugs came from a Caribbean sponge, and around the world the marine plants and animals are being bio- prospected: “The pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and with the recognition of biotechnology, some of our living resources may hold potential, therefore access and benefit sharing and intellectual property rights must be part of our governance. In this regard, the marine research mechanism which is part of the OECS oceans governance is critical.”

 Dr. Asha Singh is of the OECS Commission’s Ocean Governance Unit
Dr. Asha Singh is of the OECS Commission’s Ocean Governance Unit

Scientists say a Caribbean sponge has been discovered to generate compounds used in AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir), which is used to fight the AIDS virus. A Caribbean gorgonian (a soft coral) produces a group of compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, which are also included in an anti-wrinkle cream.

Meantime, Dr. Singh, in looking at other activities, highlighted the maritime sector and noted that while some OECS Member States operate open registry, the region harbours a significant percentage of the global cruise and other maritime traffic, adding that: “We need to ensure that good due diligence is being done in the oceans, hence we are working to update the navigational charts to make charting safer in the region.”

The OECS Commission’s Ocean Governance Unit also identifies marine renewable energy as a potential area and is working to establish a baseline assessment of the marine renewable potential in the region.

Dr. Singh noted that while currently the policy prescription and the policy direction in the OECS look more towards land-based type renewable energy options, for example, geothermal and photovoltaic, marine renewable is also growing in its recognition worldwide, and so should the region: “This is relevant, because as Small Island Developing States (SIDS), where land is limited, land-based energy policy may face challenges, therefore, we really need to look to the oceans as well, as that potential to drive our energy sustainability in both the short and long term.”

With the advent of climate change, Dr. Singh said this poses significant challenges as activities such as ocean acidification have the potential to derail efforts at sustainable governance as well as efforts towards truly harnessing the economic potential in the context of the blue economy for the wellbeing of citizens.

The head of the OECS Commission’s Ocean Governance Unit adds that Climate change and global warming impacts the oceans in several ways – seal level rise, ocean acidification etc. All of these impacts take their toll on the ocean and its resources.

Hence, if there are no resources, the earning potential from the sea vanishes.
Therefore, she noted the need for mainstreaming climate change to build greater climate resilience. She says the oceans are facing the brunt of climate change.

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5 Comments

  1. December 7, 2015

    Actually we have two problems here.

    The oceans (and waters running into them) are being polluted by sewage, oil spills, and especially by industrial waste. This is killing and will kill marine life and result in a great loss of fish which is a big industry, and a source of food for humans. As the problem gets worse it will render the water undrinkable for humans.

    The second problem is the melting of the north and south polar caps, along with snow on mountain tops
    running down and causing the oceans to rise. The forecast is that the oceans will come in over small island nations possibly causing total destruction. It will rise and come in over continents destroying whole cities as it comes in.

    World leaders hope the part of ”global warming” caused by man can be stopped or lessened. People of faith are praying God will give our scientists wisdom. Christians who know their Bibles know God has everything under control.

    Sincerely, Rev. Donald Hill. Evangelist.

  2. December 6, 2015

    Thank you for this scientific article giving us information many of us did not have.

    It seems to be the oceans that are most threatened by global warming.

    We face the danger of oceans rising as polar caps melt washing up on islands and continents destroying whole cities and vast populated territories.

    Much of our food comes from the oceans. This can be lost as the waters become polluted. Now I learn that some medicines and medicinal products have their origins in the seas and may be lost.

    All this tells us that we are approaching the end of the age. We need to prepare or hearts for Christ’s return by receiving Him as our Savior, to make ourselves ready to meet Him in the air. (1 John 5:11:12)
    (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

    Sincerely, Rev. Donald Hill. Evangelist.

  3. December 5, 2015

    The west and america are more responsible for climate change,they cut the wood in africa,brazil , guayana(the amazon is polluted ) for building materials ,paper and other things, while they have a total disregard to employing people to plant more trees,they build in a lawless manner factories that pollute the environment and encourage the poor people to swap their natural foods to processed foods.all this destruction is made because man is ready to loose his soul and gain the whole world..now in china it is difficult to see and breath in broad day light,this is to give us an idea what the level of pollution we are living in.Our life expectancy might be shorter, more serious health issues and our entire system and environment will suffer due to the climate change,,man is responsible,

  4. True Nuh
    December 4, 2015
  5. anonymous2
    December 4, 2015

    The oceans are facing degradation due to the pollution that has been imposed on them (garbage, sewage, oil, etc.). It has very little to do with climate change unless you are talking about occurrences such as alae blooms or el Nino.

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