What is the One Ocean Summit, which opens today in Brest?

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Placing the ocean at the heart of concerns is the ambition of the “One ocean” summit which brings together scientists, NGOs, politicians and entrepreneurs from today until February 11 in Brest, hoping to give a boost accelerator on several crucial international files around the seas.

The oceans occupy 70% of the surface of the globe and play an essential role in the fight against global warming. They feed the populations, shelter many species. However, they remain poorly known and poorly protected.

“We have no idea what the ocean is,” assures Françoise Gaill, emeritus research director at the CNRS.

This summit, wanted by French President Emmanuel Macron, will be the first in a series of international events around the ocean: a UN meeting on the environment at the end of February which will address the issue of an international agreement on plastic, negotiations in March at the UN on a treaty for the high seas, biodiversity and climate COPs and a UN conference on the oceans in Lisbon in June.

Workshops and forums

Today and tomorrow will be held workshops and forums, online and face-to-face. On Friday, 18 heads of state and government, whose names the Elysée has not yet given, will be present in Brest with Emmanuel Macron. The commitments made will be carried by 41 countries, according to Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, ambassador for the poles and maritime issues.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel are announced.

On the business side, leaders of European container shipping giants CMA CGM, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd and MSC are scheduled. “The French presidency of the European Union is an opportunity that should not be missed,” Olivier Poivre d’Arvor told AFP. “Rather than organizing a classic European summit, we have chosen to take on a group of committed leaders,” he continues.

Fight against illegal fishing

France hopes that new countries will ratify the Cape Town Agreement, intended to strengthen the safety of fishing vessels and to combat illegal fishing, so that it can enter into force.

The NGOs hope for strong announcements, while regretting that issues as essential as overfishing are not on the agenda.

France has the second largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world, which covers waters up to 200 nautical miles off its coast, thanks to the overseas territories. With 23% of its waters protected, but only 1.6% under strict protection, “France is not necessarily a model”, commented Jérôme Petit from the NGO Pew.

He hopes that the government will confirm the extension of the national nature reserve of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) over one million km2, including a strong protection zone of 250,000 km2.

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