MONDAY - OCTOBER 17, 2022
The Track Two Conference, Oceans 22, organized by Track Two and Masha Vorontsova, opened yesterday at Esalen Institute in Big Sur. A group of 30 oceanic experts and citizen diplomats gathered to embark upon five days of discussion on the state of the Ocean. With experts from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, China and the US, we endeavor to better understand the most critical human-generated ocean degradations. We aim to imagine how fault lines in international efforts to protect the massive areas of the oceans that fall under no nation's jurisdictions, otherwise known as the high seas, may be sealed.
After a warm welcome by Dulce Murphy and
a body breather offered by Joe Orrach, Genevieve Pons and Pascal Lamy opened the Oceans 22 discussion with a description of a new, tangible and evocative framework for multi-lateral ocean protections.
Mac McQuown and Minna Epps introduced us to the significant impact of climate change on the Ocean - and of the carbon damage that we have imposed through exploitation of fossil fuels including ocean de-oxygenation. We discussed direct human threats as well: illegal and over-fishing, deep sea mining, marine pollution, and shipping.
Ocean groups have established an aspirational goal: achieve protection for 30% of the ocean by 2030. Claire Christian and Evan Bloom offered insight into some of the frameworks for protection. as well as some of the obstacles to enactment of protections. Ingo Gunther shared a series of data-driven images that dramatically depict various ocean conditions, John Weller presented two tender and stunning short films on the need for ocean protections.
As Pascal Lamy, the former Director General of the World Trade Organization and an expert on ocean treaties commented, the guiding 27-member CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) is subject to consensus decision-making, meaning all 27 parties must agree to rules advancing preservation of Antarctica’s environment. Since the creation of the Ross Sea MPA in 2016, it has been unable to create new MPAs (agreed upon previously) due to the constant opposition of two countries, China and Russia.
Genevieve Pons, co-chair with Pascal Lamy of Antarctica 2020 explained that the aim of this coalition of ocean champions from varied disciplines and countries is to advance the creation of these MPAs, all necessary to safeguard this unique environment and crucial for the health of our planet.
Key leaders and protagonists in these efforts emerged. Some treaties and conventions have proven successful: gill-fish netting is globally prohibited, for example. Others have failed or have stymied amidst cross-border tensions. But the urgency to act is building.
David Victor asked us to consider alternate approaches, to imagine, invent and adapt other "tools" for negotiation and implementation and to consider the notion of adaptive experimentation as a means for getting all parties to participate in earnest.
Tomorrow we look at the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic where ocean protections are not moving forward, despite the will of most interested parties.