Protecting the Seas: “France must set a strong example for others to take the same steps,” insists Surfrider

“France must set a strong example for others to take the same steps”, said Antidia Citores, spokesperson for Surfrider Foundation Europe, an NGO that fights to protect the oceans and their users. She welcomes Emmanuel Macron’s announcements on Friday, September 3, at the opening of the congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, but “behind these words, there will have to be political acts”. Antidia Citores is particularly concerned about a “shark kill”, a species “on top of the chain” Food.

franceinfo: Do ​​Emmanuel Macron’s announcements about marine protected areas and the organization of an environmental summit in a few months give you hope?

This is Surfrider’s first achievement. During the Biarritz G7, we called for this kind of international summit dedicated to the ocean. Behind these words, there must be political acts, that is, a mobilized international society, maritime transport actors but also energy actors mobilized to reduce impacts and preserve biodiversity and the environment. Climate, as it is this cooperation between climate, biodiversity and the ocean that allows for regulation.

Enlarging Marine Protected Areas by 5% in the Mediterranean, what exactly does that mean?

There are more than 27 types of marine protected area regimes, so it depends on the determination of countries to establish restrictions in terms of exploration or use. Therefore, we will pay special attention to ensure that this definition of protection is “strong”, meaning we have very restrictive uses. It is not about sanctuary, but the cohabitation of uses that would have no impact on these marine areas. In the Mediterranean, we start from afar, there is practically nothing in terms of protection. There, it will have to materialize even more with the countries of the North Coast, the South Coast, but also with all the commitments to reduce plastics. It will have to be done in cooperation with other states, as we cannot protect a marine area on our own, we are not the only ones sailing, we are not the only ones fishing, for example. Therefore, France must be a strong example for others to also take the same measures and behave in an exemplary manner in these marine protected areas.

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What are the threats to the seas today?

The threats are multiple: chemical pollution, fishing, there are certain areas that become “anoxic”, that is to say lifeless, because we explored excessively or polluted too much in these areas there is “underwater noise”, the fact that there are more and more activities creates discomfort , it can even cause injuries in cetaceans and we see disturbed migrations. In the end, the threats are the same as on land. On the other hand, we make mistakes in managing these threats on land, we must try not to replicate them in the ocean.

One third of species on the planet are threatened with extinction by human activity, according to the IUCN report published this Saturday, is this situation irreversible?

For some species it is irreversible, for others there are possibilities. For corals, we hope to be able to rebuild nurseries, precisely with these marine protected areas we hope to rescue this biodiversity. What’s more alarming is that these animal murders, we can’t see them, they’re not visible. We don’t see animal corpses everywhere, but we have terrible population reductions, without sometimes extinction. It is our duty to respect this biodiversity by making the right choices, including as consumers, avoiding packaging, reducing plastic, because we see turtles that still ingest plastic and are threatened with extinction. There really is an entire chain, both of consumer companies and public authorities, that needs to make a change.

According to the IUCN Red List, one third of sharks are threatened with extinction. Is this particularly bad news for the sea?

Yes, that’s bad news, because it’s one of the top predators in the chain, it also means it’s going to destabilize the entire marine ecosystem. It is an indicator of the state of good or bad health of the marine environment. This killing of sharks and all marine species shows that we have put our finger on the process of destabilizing ecosystems and that it is up to us to be responsible. There have been many complaints, we have no choice but to act. We must not wait for a new IUCN list.

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