“It is time to listen to the oceans” – will be one of the messages at the first ever Oceans Conference to be hosted in Uruguay, where marine specialists will invite an open debate about how best to tackle pollution, overfishing and climate change, and how to truly protect the rich marine life of the South Atlantic Ocean.

We depend on healthy oceans – they generate more than half of the oxygen we breathe, they regulate the climate, and they are the source of food, medicine and sustenance for millions of people around the world.

On 26 July, in Montevideo, the Oceanosanos (‘Healthy Oceans’) project, supported by Oceans5, will host international guest speakers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Spain, and some of Uruguay’s leading voices on ocean conservation. It will be a unique opportunity for government officials, the fishing industry, marine specialists, Presidential candidates, legislators, journalists, civil society and youth to discuss the future of Uruguay’s seas.

To reserve a place or find out more, click here: oceanosanos.org/eventos

Off the coast of Uruguay, the convergence of a warm ocean current from Brazil and the cold Malvinas (Falklands) current creates one of the richest aquatic systems in the world. This natural habitat is a South Atlantic migratory route for whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, fish and birds, including more than 100 threatened, vulnerable or critically endangered species – making Uruguay a strategic country for marine and coastal protection down the coast of Latin America, from Brazil’s northeast coast to the tip of Argentina.

Top of the agenda for Uruguay’s first ever Oceans Conference will be the pressing issues of how to protect marine and coastal ecosystems, including: how to establish effective Marine Protected Areas while ensuring that local fishermen can maintain sustainable livelihoods based on the sea; how to combat plastics and other marine pollution; and how to eradicate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Huge fleets of vessels, from China, South Korea and Spain, among other countries, are responsible for the (mostly uncontrolled) depredation of marine fauna, in their search for squid, hake, rays and sharks. The situation is worsened by transshipment on the high seas, which can camouflage a multitude of activities related to illegal fishing: the “laundering” of undeclared fish, corruption, and even the trafficking of drugs, weapons and people. – Milko Schvartzman, Oceanosanos Coordinator, talking about IUU fishing.

Internationally-renowned marine experts, who will share both experience and recommendations for protecting the South Atlantic Ocean, include:

  • Maximiliano Bello, from Chile, advisor for the Pew Bertarelli Oceans Legacy project, worked with the Rapa Nui community on Easter Island and the Chilean government to create one of the biggest marine protected areas in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Claudio Campagna, from Argentina, President of the regional Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea, and strategic lead on ocean protection for Wildlife Conservation Society.
  • Purificación Canals, from Spain, President of the Mediterranean network of Marine Protected Areas (MedPAN), a sought-after science and conservation advisor for Europe and internationally.
  • José Truda Palazzo Jr., from Brasil, environmental activist, writer and explore, fonder of a successful Southern Rights Whales conservation project, and instrumental in establishing two of the largest Marine Protected Areas in the world.
  • Andrés Milessi, from Uruguay, marine biologist and member of the Inter-Governmental Oceanography Commission, with more than 25 years’ experience in research into fisheries and marine ecosystems.

Rodrigo García, Director of OCC (Organización para la Conservación de Cetáceos), Gaia’s local partner, is a key figure in making the conference happen. He hopes it will also be a starting point for actions within Uruguay to ensure the health of oceans for future generations, and mindful of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14:

“To conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

Rodrigo is delighted that Uruguay’s first Oceans Conference has been declared of national interest by the Ministry for Housing, Territorial Ordering and the Environment (MVOTMA – Ministerio de Vivienda, Ordenamiento Territorial y Medio Ambiente).

Take part, join the conversation – and listen to the oceans!

  • Free Entry – registration required at: oceanosanos.org/eventos
  • When?  Friday 26 July – 5.30pm-8.30pm
  • Where?  Kibón Avanza (Rambla Charles De Gaulle), Montevideo, Uruguay

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