UNITED NATIONS – What if the blue fades away as seawaters become brown, coral reefs become white as marine grasslands wither and life below water vanishes?

This is already happening at a staggering rate. It’s a lose-lose: for all people and for the planet.

Fish stocks are declining. Around 80 percent of fishing is either collapsing or just fully exploited. The ocean is also being polluted at an alarming rate. Fertilizer run-off and 10 to 20 million metric tons of plastic debris enter the oceans each year and destroy biodiversity and ecosystems. At this rate the number of dead zones will increase and by the year 2050 the oceans could contain more plastic than fish, measured by weight.

If we don’t take action now this trend may become irreversible. Recognizing this urgency, country representatives will gather at the Ocean Conference, 5 to 9 June at the UN headquarters in New York to address marine pollution, declining fisheries, loss of coastal and marine habitat and the vanishing of life below water.

The Conference will focus will be on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. This SDG along with 16 others compose the sustainable development agenda globally adopted in 2015. While several of the goals are to be achieved by the year 2030, most of the ocean-related targets must be attained by 2020 if we are to save our.

Government commitments are crucial now. They range from sustainably managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts to effectively regulating harvesting and end overfishing and unregulated fishing. Governments also need to conserve at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas; and, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – PANOS Caribbean has expressed deep disappointment at news that the United States is to turn its back on the historic Paris Agreement.

“There is no question that Panos Caribbean — an organisation that has worked tirelessly in the interest of advancing public education on climate change and enabling communities to have an informed response to the phenomena — is deeply disappointed at the U.S. decision,” said Panos Jamaica Country Director Petre Williams-Raynor.

“However, it is hardly a surprising decision, given past statements made by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made no secret of being a climate sceptic. Thursday’s statement has simply made it official and the rest of the globe must carry on; we cannot afford not to, there is too much at stake,” she added.

Still, Williams-Raynor said there remains the possibility of a slowing of the momentum to combat climate change.

“The U.S. has been a major financial contributor to particularly climate change research and in particular the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the overall international effort — especially in the developing world — to combat climate change,” she said.

“At the same time, in recent years, the U.S. has taken significant steps nationally to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions while promoting similar action abroad. Any step back from these things could slow the momentum of global efforts to combat climate change. Ultimately, however, the gains of recent years will carry as countries adjust to the loss of U.S. support — whatever that looks like in the coming months and years,” Williams-Raynor added.

BASSETERRE, St Kitts – Opposition parliamentarians have joined public outrage denouncing plans by the Team Unity Government to construct a new Basseterre High School on lands of the Basseterre Aquifer.

St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party chairperson, Marcella Liburd, MP for Central Basseterre said it was “a callous and irresponsible act to build any high school on the water table”.

“We cannot take any chances. It has to be an uncaring government to do that bearing in mind that you have chances of contamination of a water system,” Liburd said.

She called on the nation, including students, teachers, parents, residents in the Basseterre area who will be affected, hotel and restaurant owners, to speak out and protest to avoid contamination of our drinking water source.

Meantime, Caretaker for St. Christopher 8, Dr Terrance Drew lamented that the students continue to suffer at the temporary facilities which are in separate locations without the necessary chemistry, physics, biology and computer labs and home management centers.

“The Christian Council, the Evangelical Association, the Bar Association, the Hotel Association and other NGO’s which were active before the change of government are now silent and stand by and watch while the students and teachers are suffering.”

BELMOPAN, Belize – The US Embassy here has cancelled the diplomatic and tourist visas of Transport Minister Edmond Castro.

But Prime Minister Dean Barrow has brushed aside calls for him to dismiss Castro over the cancellation.

Barrow told reporters that he had seen a letter sent to the minister by the US Embassy and that “there is no indication of any reason for the revocation of the visas, except that the minister declined to come in when invited to do so to discuss the whole issue of renewal of the visas since those visas were about to expire.

“As the minister has said, and that’s clear from the letter that what he said was confirmed by the letter, he refused to go in because he’s saying that he’s not interested.  In other words, had the visas not been revoked, had they been allowed to expire in the next couple of months he would not have sought any renewal,” Barrow added.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) Thursday night passed a motion of no confidence in Chief Justice Ivor Archie in a move that could have further ramifications for the judiciary.

Archie, who became the youngest Chief Justice here after he was appointed in January 2008, had come under criticism following the controversy over the appointment and subsequent resignation of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar to the High Court earlier this year.

LATT president Douglas Mendes, SC, told reporters that while the vote was merely the legal fraternity expressing its opinion on the issue, the motions did not constitute impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice, which can only be initiated by the Prime Minister.

But Senior Counsel Martin Daly told reporters following the historic vote that he expected Archie and other members of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) do the “honourable thing” and immediately resign.

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