Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray, addresses participants at the ongoing Blue Ocean Conference here
By Emmanuel Mondaye
Liberia’s Mines and Energy Minister, Gesler E. Murray,alarms of rising sea levels that threaten Liberia and the entire West Africa.
He raised the alarm Wednesday, 20 March while officially opening a Blue Ocean Conference at the Millennium Guest House in Oldest Congo Town outside Monrovia.
Minister Murray asserts that oceans are warning and becoming more acidic, causing coral bleaching and reducing biodiversity, which indicate that changing currents will have a serious impact on weather patterns forewarning that Liberia should prepare for more frequent storms and droughts.
He discloses that pollution, overfishing and impacts of Climate Change are severely damaging health of the country’s seas and oceans, noting that recent study shows that plastic could outweigh fish in marine space, if the country does not act in its seas and oceans by 2050.
He says fisheries in most parts of the world are collapsing due to dead zones, underwater deserts where life cannot survive because of a lack of oxygen amid rapid growth, further warning that many marine species risk extinct within decades.
According to him, conflicting demands from industry, fishing, shipping, mining and tourism are creating unsustainable levels of stress on coastal ecosystems, calling for coordinated regional and global actions aimed at resolving such challenges.
He advises the essential first step is finding a balance between economic demands and health of seas and stresses that protection and sustainable use of marine resources are two sides of the same coin.
Minister Murray, also a lecturer at the University of Liberia, continues that Liberia needs to promote strong political leadership thru will and commitment and new partnership based on existing legal framework, adding that through voluntary commitments, the country needs concrete steps, from expanding marine protected areas to the management of fisheries; from reducing pollution to cleaning up plastic waste.
According to the Liberian Geologist, Liberia has a critical role to play-judging from its rich maritime history, and urges participants of the conference to translate the political will of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2050 Africa’s integrated Maritime Strategy into funding commitments.
He maintains that Liberia is committed to providing integrated, coordinated support for the implementation of relevant agreements on the ocean, including Sustainable Development Goal 14, while calling on Member States to engage in dialogue necessary to define a new model for the future governance of seas and oceans of Africa.
Also speaking, Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) deputy boss urges the conference to make crucial contribution in creating awareness on the importance of the Blue economy, limiting Climate Change, Marine Pollution and Sustainable Fishing.
For his part, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Nathaniel Blama,notes that having the Blue Ocean Conference in Liberia demonstrates a strong commitment from the Government of Liberia under the leadership of President George Mannah Weah to ensure protection for the country’s marine ecosystem.
Other speakers include CarinJamtin of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; Helen Agren, Ambassador for the Global Oceans, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Executive Vice President of Conservation International, Dr. Sabastian Troeng, Madam Jessica Donovan, Country Director, Conservation International; National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) Deputy Director General, Augustine Manoballah, and the representative of Africa’s Ocean, among others.Editing by Jonathan Browne