The star of the hit Aquaman film series on Sunday called for the world’s oceans to be protected, on the eve of a long-delayed UN conference on the issue.
“The ocean needs us,” Jason Momoa said. “Without a healthy ocean life, our planet as we know it would not exist.”
Hawaiian-born Momoa, who portrays Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe movies, was speaking at a youth gathering outside Lisbon.
They were joined at the Carcavelos beach by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is Portuguese.
Guterres said the world was “moving too slowly” to rehabilitate the oceans.
“It’s time for the behaviors to be seriously condemned,” he added.
Guterres yesterday addressed the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, co-organized by Portugal and Kenya.
Humanity needs healthy oceans. They generate 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe and provide essential protein and nutrients to billions of people every day.
Absorbing about one-quarter of carbon dioxide pollution — even as emissions increased by half over the past 60 years — has turned sea water acidic, threatening aquatic food chains and the ocean’s capacity to pull down carbon.
Soaking up more than 90 percent of the excess heat from global warming has spawned massive marine heat waves that are killing off precious coral reefs and expanding dead zones bereft of oxygen.
“We have only begun to understand the extent to which climate change is going to wreak havoc on ocean health,” said Charlotte de Fontaubert, the World Bank’s global lead for the “blue economy.”
Making things worse is an unending torrent of pollution, including a garbage truck’s worth of plastic every minute, the UN Environment Programme said.
Microplastics — found inside arctic ice and fish in the ocean’s deepest trenches — are estimated to kill more than 1 million seabirds and more than 100,000 marine mammals each year.
Solutions range from recycling to global caps on plastic production.
Global fisheries are also to be under the spotlight during the five-day UN Ocean Conference, originally slated for April 2020.
“At least one-third of wild fish stocks are overfished and less than 10 percent of the ocean is protected,” said Kathryn Matthews, chief scientist for US-based non-governmental organization Oceana.
“Destructive and illegal fishing vessels operate with impunity in many coastal waters and on the high seas,” she said.
Another major focus would be “blue food,” the new watchword for ensuring that marine harvests from all sources are sustainable and socially responsible.
If properly managed, “wild ocean fish can provide a climate-friendly, micronutrient protein source that can feed 1 billion people a healthy seafood meal every day — forever,” Matthews said.
Meanwhile, delegates attending the conference might take inspiration by looking out of the venue’s windows at Portugal’s longest river, where frolicking dolphins delight locals and tourists.
The number of dolphins swimming from the Atlantic into the mouth of the Tagus at Lisbon has increased significantly as pollution has fallen.
“In the past 10 years, with the water improvement, we started seeing wildlife much more frequently,” said local sailor and guide Bernardo Queiroz, who organizes trips to see bottlenose and common dolphins in the river.
“We used to see [the dolphins] 10 times a year and now we have [them] 200 days a year,” he said.
Queiroz’s tour business aims to create awareness about the importance and the benefits of nature preservation.
“We must seek to right the wrongs we have done against our children and grandchildren, turn the tide on our irresponsible stewardship and build a moment for a future where humanity can once again live in harmony with nature,” Momoa said.
Additional reporting by AP
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