Barbados Hosts Training Sessions on Law of the Sea and Principled Ocean Governance

A 5-day joint-training session is being hosted from May 17 to 22, 2010, by the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies and the Caribbean Law Institute Centre of University of the West Indies-Cave Hill, in collaboration with the International Oceanographic Institute of Canada and the Marine Affairs Program and Marine Environmental Law Institute of Dalhousie University. The training program—International Oceans Institute Training Module: Law of the Sea and Principled Ocean Governance—calls for Caribbean people to pay more attention to the relevant principles for sound ocean governance.

Senator Haynesley Benn, Barbados Minister of Agriculture, who gave the feature address on Tuesday morning at the official opening of the training session, emphasized that “in making ocean policy, we have had to confront the traditional views that the oceans were inexhaustible and impervious to use by humans” and that “fishery resources can, and often are over-exploited [and] in addition to depleting stocks, fishing was having a direct and indirect effect on the ecosystems in which it was taking place.” Benn listed many ways in which people are degrading the oceans, for example, by construction in coastal areas and through land-based projects that impact watersheds and coasts. He acknowledged the many challenges relating to sustainability of use, scale and accessibility, and jurisdiction/ownership of resources.

Benn emphasized that in the Caribbean, “Our very survival as inhabitants of small islands and low lying countries depends on [ocean governance] and our intervention and involvement must be at all three critical levels: national, regional and global.” He pointed out that Barbados has been active in this arena for a long time, taking ocean governance seriously: “We have, therefore, worked to build an effective system of ocean governance, based on a solid scientific base from its very inception. Our small geographic size did not allow us the luxury of a second chance if we failed to make good decisions using sound scientific principles.”

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