(OCEAN CONSERVATION/MARINE LIFE) WASHINGTON D.C. — In a video statement released by the U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State John Kerry announced his plans to host a global “Our Ocean” conference focused on overfishing, marine pollution, and ocean acidification.

 “The ocean fuels our trade. It provides much of the food we eat, the air we breathe. It is home to vast, extraordinary ecosystems from the coral reefs to the kelp forests,” Kerry said.

“But today, this incredible resource is threatened. It’s threatened by unsustainable fishing, by pollution, by climate change. Indeed, how we respond to these challenges is literally going to help determine the future of our planet.”

Dolphins, ocean, new species, humpback, water
Marine mammals will benefit from the “Our Ocean” Conference. Photo Credit: The Guardian

The conference, which takes place June 16 and 17 in Washington D.C., will announce new funding initiatives and policy targets while bringing together 400 senior government officials, industry representatives, scientists, environmentalists, and foundations from more than 80 countries.

The goal of “Our Ocean” is to create discussion while encouraging individuals and governments to take more action. For instance, people will be asked to sign pledges to know where the fish they eat comes from. Governments, on the other hand, have the opportunity to come together in order to establish marine protected areas.

Photo Credit: Society For The Advancement Of Animal Wellbeing
Photo Credit: Society For The Advancement Of Animal Wellbeing

“Protecting the ocean requires broad engagement from the global community to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the marine environment. It is imperative for the United States and countries around the world to work together to protect and sustain it, as no one person or one country can use it or protect it alone,” the State Department maintains in a press release.

Kerry, who prides himself on his environmental activism, has worked with issues such as climate change as well as curbing drift net fishing and shark finning.

“No senator since Al Gore knows as much about the science and diplomacy of climate change as Kerry. He would not only put climate change in the top five issues he raises with every country, but he would probably rethink our entire diplomatic approach to the issue,” David Goldwyn, who served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, told the National Journal.

This initiative for a more sustainable, healthy ocean is the latest sign of the Obama administration taking on a more environmental agenda during its second term.

The “Our Ocean” conference is intended to be an important start to a much larger effort because, as Kerry puts it, “if we’re going to pass on a liveable ocean to the next generation we need to act much more forcefully now.”

Click here to watch John Kerry speak in the Department of State’s video clip, or read the transcript here.

— Israel Igualate, exclusive to Global Animal