President Tommy Remengesau is reiterating that ocean protections play a crucial role in fighting climate change.

Remengesau in his remarks during  the United Nations’ annual international climate conference  which kicked off  this week  in Bonn, Germany stated that climate change – and the greenhouse gas emissions that drive it – “is becoming increasingly destructive to marine ecosystems, compounding the damage already caused by other human activities on land and at sea.”

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Palau and smaller island nations are pushing to persuade climate change negotiators that protection for ocean life should go hand in hand with the national and international plans for combating the impacts of climate change.

“I would like to begin by thanking Fiji for continuing to highlight oceans as a critical issue and also to thank the sponsors, partners and organizers of this ocean day.  The links between a healthy ocean, a safe climate, and the communities that depend on both must remain high on the international agenda,” Remengesau said during the COP23 Ocean Action Day on Saturday in Bonn.

Remengesau said that the leaders should listen to  science and local fishermen who  have been saying that there has been  decline in fish stocks and biodiversity has been apparent for some time now.

“For the great majority of us who understand the practical and moral imperative to listen to what the scientists — and the fisherman — are telling us, we need to take immediate and decisive action to rescue and restore our ocean.  And those in this room are taking action,” he stated.

He also pushed that leaders at the global level  must work together to establish, by 2020, an effectively managed and well-connected system of marine protected areas within and beyond areas of national jurisdiction, covering at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas worldwide.

Remengesau countries should increase ambition and protect at least 30% of  marine areas by 2030 including designating marine protected areas, including reserves, beyond national jurisdiction.

Palau is closing off 80% of its marine zone to an ocean sanctuary with 20 percent designated to domestic fishing zone.

“We need to go further, faster and together on climate action and on oceans. Progress will not come easy. But today — among friends and allies on Ocean Day — let us re-energize our efforts,” Remengesau stated. [/restrict]