Pope emphasises need to care for oceans in message to Malta conference

Pope Francis calls oceans "the common heritage of the human family" in letter to participants of 'Our Ocean' conference being held in Malta

In a letter addressed to the participants of the ‘Our Ocean’ conference, which is currently underway, Pope Francis encouraged efforts to deal with various pressing issues which directly affect the welfare of a great number of people.

The conference is in its fourth edition and is being hosted by the European Union in Malta.

The Pope mentioned human trafficking, slave labour and inhumane working conditions in the fishing and commercial shipping industries, coastal communities’ and fishermen’s families standard of living and development opportunities, and the reality of island which are being threatened by rising sea levels, as the most pressing problems.

The Pope said that these issues necessitate that we recognise we have a duty to care for our oceans as part of our overall vision of human development. There is also a need for multilateral governance with the purpose of pursuing the common good, equipped to operate at international and regional levels, under the guidance of international law and following the principle of subsidiarity and respect of human dignity.

The letter calls the oceans “the common heritage of the human family”, echoing the words of Maltese Ambassador Arvid Pardo, who was one of the founders of the international law concept of “the common heritage of mankind”. Caring for this common inheritance, the Pope added, required that we do not ignore the problems of ocean pollution, or the loss of coral reefs, both of which were devastating for human and marine life.

His Holiness noted that “everything is interconnected”. The oceans are thus an important resource in the fight against poverty and climate change, both of which are inherently linked. He called for new technology for proper governance of the oceans, and new models of production and consumption to promote human development that values good governance.

It is now time to work more responsibly to safeguard our oceans and humanity, and to train young people to care for our oceans  and appreciate their grandeur. Humanity has to stop seeing the oceans as so vast that toxic waste can be disposed in them without concern, and to start giving consideration to the serious detrimental effects on marine and coastal ecosystems caused by the extraction of minerals from the seabed. Moreover, the causes of crime and human tragedy at sea should also start to be adequately addressed. Such causes are usually found on land, the Pope added.


Ministry for Tourism announce new government body to safeguard our seas

In an address to the ‘Our Ocean’ conference participants, Minister Konrad Mizzi announced a commitment to establish a new government body within the Ministry for Tourism, the purpose of which would be to study, protect, preserve and manage the care, exposition and appreciation of the underwater cultural heritage of Malta. It will have a budget of €1.6 million.

Protecting the seas around us will lead to the creation of new diving sites around the Maltese island, enhance Malta’s maritime tourism product  together with its exposure on a worldwide level, and help achieve ocean sustainability for current and future generations, Mizzi said.