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Our Ocean Conference Garners Over $800 Million in Ocean Conservation Commitments

our-ocean17 June 2014: US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US State Department's 'Our Ocean' conference resulted in more than US$800 million in government and private sector commitments to conserve the ocean and its resources. The conference aimed to develop strategies for protecting oceans through three pillars focused on: sustainable fisheries; marine pollution from land-based and ocean-based sources; and ocean acidification, as addressed in the ‘Our Ocean Action Plan.'

In a video presentation, US President Barack Obama announced a program to deter illegal fishing and prevent illegally caught fish from entering the US marketplace. He said his administration will begin planning to expand marine reserves in US waters in the south-central Pacific Ocean. The US also announced the mFish public-private partnership to provide small-scale fishers in developing countries with mobile devices for accessing market and weather information and reporting catch data, among other commitments.

President Tong of Kiribati announced the full closure of commercial fishing in the Phoenix Island Marine Protected Area by 2015. President Remengesau of Palau described a proposed national marine sanctuary that would cover most of Palau's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Cook Islands announced its intention to expand the Cook Islands Marine Park to cover its EEZ. The United Kingdom and the Bahamas also announced intentions to establish additional marine conservation zones and MPAs, respectively.

Norway committed to allocate US$1 billion to climate change mitigation and adaptation assistance, including to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Norway also announced: US$150 million to promote fisheries development and management abroad; and US$1 million to combat pollution from marine plastic wastes and microplastics. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced US$460 million in funding to conserve and restore marine biodiversity, strengthen coastal management and foster sustainable fisheries.

Additional commitments focused on: monitoring ocean acidification; improving management of the world's tuna stocks; supporting coastal communities; and mapping and understanding the ocean. Chile said it would host a follow-up conference in Chile in 2015, and Secretary Kerry suggested an annual conference to review progress towards goals and targets.

The two-day conference, which took place in Washington, DC, US, from 16-17 June, drew Heads of State, Ministers, policy makers, environmentalists, scientists and entrepreneurs from nearly 90 countries. [US State Department Press Release] [Our Ocean Conference Website] [Action Plan] [Our Ocean Initiatives]