FAO’s Rome headquarters illuminated in blue to mark World Oceans Day.

8 June 2017, Rome – FAO is illuminating its Rome headquarters in blue at sunset today as part of a World Oceans Day campaign to raise awareness of the critical role played by the world’s marine resources in combating, hunger, poverty and in ensuring sustainable development.

New York’s Empire State Building will also turn blue to mark World Oceans Day, celebrated annually on 8 June.

These initiatives “are a reminder of the importance of oceans and seas. They cover 70 percent of the surface of our planet, provide half the world’s oxygen, and serve as home to 80 percent of life” on earth, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, in a video message.

He noted that fish provides 3 billion people around the world with at least 20 percent of their total animal protein intake.

“We are very proud that many of the key instruments designed to safeguard our oceans have been negotiated and adopted at FAO Headquarters,” he added. These include the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the FAO Port State Measures Agreement to tackle Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Small-Scale Fisheries.

World Oceans Day this year coincides with the United Nations Ocean Conference which aims to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on ensuring the health of the world’s oceans and seas.

These bodies of water host 80 percent of all biodiversity, provide food, nutrients, and as fish are among the most widely traded food commodities, provide important sources of income. Yet the world’s oceans and seas are under great pressure, not least with overexploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification.

FAO experts are involved or leading several of the Ocean Conference’s Partnership Dialogues and side-events. These include topics such as: Making fisheries sustainable; Increasing economic benefits to Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries and providing access for small-scale artisanal farmers to marine resources and markets; and, Implementation and Application of the Port State Measures Agreement to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing.

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