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U.S., China Agree to Protect Oceans

Secretary of State John Kerry, right, shakes hands with China's Vice Premier Wang Yang. (June 25, 2015)

The ocean needs protection, and the United States and China have agreed to work together to do just that.

The world’s ocean produces 50 to 70 percent of our oxygen. It regulates our climate, absorbs carbon dioxide, supplies us with much of the protein we consume, and supports the greatest abundance of life on our planet. If the ocean were to disappear today, nearly all life on earth would soon follow. Nonetheless, our ocean is under attack.

U.S., China Agree to Protect Oceans
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As much as 40 per cent of it is heavily affected by human activities that result in pollution, over-fishing, and loss of coastal habitats.

The ocean needs protection, and the United States and China, two of the top maritime nations in the world, as well as two of the global leaders in ocean science, have agreed to work together to do just that.

“On the marine environment, there is an urgent need for our countries to step up and help lead,” said Secretary of State John Kerry during his closing remarks at the Strategic Track Oceans Meeting. We have a real opportunity to deal with conserving and protecting the ocean, and we are already working together to address this, he said.

During the meeting, Secretary of State Kerry and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi agreed to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; expand cooperation among both countries’ coast guards and maritime enforcement authorities; develop a “Green Ports” initiative to reduce marine pollution; better monitor changes in the ocean and climate; and develop sister city and third country cooperation to reduce marine litter. Secretary of State Kerry, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and leaders of U.S. and Chinese maritime agencies also discussed the importance of establishing a Marine Protected Area in the Antarctic Ross Sea – one of the world’s last remaining pristine marine environments.

The United States and much of the international community has long sought to create a marine protected area in the Ross Sea.This 1.34 million square kilometers area, often referred to as the "Last Ocean", is home to over 10,000 unique species, including penguins, whales and colossal squid.

“The oceans are part of us, all of us, every country that borders the ocean and so many countries that depend on fish for the protein that feeds their people,” said Secretary Kerry.“We need to heed carefully the responsibilities that we have.”