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Immediately after 5 days of debates in Marseille, Mr. Philippe Martin, French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, gathered in Ajaccio 19 ministers of nations representing the world's oceans.
This Ministerial Conference, held in the presence of numerous representatives of governments, international institutions and NGOs, was structured around three roundtables, on the following subjects: the benefits and urgency of conserving the oceans, promoting the regional scale as the appropriate framework for effective action, and international initiatives needed to protect the high seas.
Exchanges paved the way for a common declaration, based on the outcomes delivered by experts who met in Marseille over the course five days. Its signatories reaffirmed their determination to reach the target of covering 10 percent of the oceans with marine protected areas by 2020 (Aichi 11). Today, only 3 percent are protected. They committed to leveraging the means necessary to do so.
The Ajaccio Ministerial message underscores the urgency of conserving and managing the high seas sustainably. It calls for the international community to adopt before the end of 2014 the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations allowing for the launch of negotiations on an implementing agreement of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable management of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdictions (ABNJs).
ABNJs represent 64 percent of the oceans. Far from being barren expanses, they contain an extraordinary wealth of biodiversity, particularly on seamounts and in underwater canyons.
Aside from France, French Polynesia and New Caledonia, the ministers in attendance in Ajaccio represented the following countries: Albania, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, the Comoros, Bahrain, Cyprus, Dominica, Guinea, Italy, India, Monaco, Nicaragua, the Samoa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Tunisia.
The signatories warmly thanked all who took part in IMPAC3 in Marseille, from Oct. 21 to Oct. 25, for their conclusions which provided the foundation for the exchanges in Ajaccio.