It is a pleasure to be here today at the opening of this event celebrating what has been achieved through the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance since the Galway Statement was signed in May 2013. I also welcome the chance to celebrate the European Commission’s announcement of the new Horizon 2020 – Blue Growth projects that will further the implementation of the Galway Statement.
I want to thank Commissioners Carlos Moedas and Karmenu Vella and my esteemed colleagues from Canada and the European Parliament here today who I know place great importance on ocean research.
I am excited to see the number of scientists, managers, policy makers and representatives from the European Union, Canada, the United States, Brazil, South Africa and other countries that are gathered here for this event.
I am proud to note President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry both share your appreciation of the critical importance of ocean research, and its role in informing ocean stewardship and policy.
Underscoring this, when President Obama early in his first term established within the White House the U.S. National Ocean Council, he named as co-chairs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy—the White House’s top research policy official, alongside the head of the Council on Environmental Quality—the White House’s top environmental stewardship official.
The U.S. National Ocean Council is in turn advised by the Ocean Research Advisory Panel, which includes representatives from the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine, and leading ocean scientists.
The White House also released a Presidential Memorandum on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud, which depletes fish stocks and costs legitimate fishermen around the world billions of dollars annually.
The memorandum establishes a Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud within the National Ocean Council. With extensive input from stakeholders within the United States and our international partners, the Task Force finalized its action plan just last month. We are excited to work with you to implement these concrete steps to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, including by working to build the capacity for science-based fisheries management in all nations, and the plan to create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into U.S. commerce.
Secretary Kerry has his own longstanding passion for ocean stewardship and research. Last June he hosted a very successful oceans conference at the Department of State that included representatives from more than 80 countries as well as NGOs, private companies, foundations, and science and research communities. In his remarks to that conference, Secretary Kerry highlighted the critical role that science has in calling attention to the vulnerability of our oceans. The conference resulted in resulted in commitments from government and private sources valued at more than $800 million to conserve the ocean and its resources for future generations.
The Atlantic Ocean connects us and sustains us. It is a source of food, energy, recreation, and even inspiration. It regulates our climate and sequesters our carbon emissions. The Atlantic Ocean also provides significant economic benefits, from the sustainable harvest of seafood to the exchange of commercial goods between our hemispheres.
I welcome the importance that the EU is placing on the Atlantic Ocean and the efforts that have been made to ensure the success of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and the implementation of the Galway Statement.
2014 was a productive year for bilateral efforts to promote and implement ocean research activities between the European Union, Canada, and the United States in support of the Galway Statement. Agreements on areas for collaboration, assessments of existing activities and decisions on joint activities to be implemented were completed and we developed an international Science Plan for the North Atlantic-Arctic Coupled System.
I have been interested to learn of research collaboration in aquaculture, ocean observations, marine microbial ecology, ocean stressors, acidification, and ocean literacy. And now new areas for joint research are being explored, including seabed mapping.
Research efforts so far have focused on the North Atlantic with a keen interest in understanding the linkages between a changing Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic – its circulation, chemistry, ecosystems and fisheries – each of profound importance to the health and sustainability of the Atlantic Ocean and the resources it provides.
The Brazil-Europe-South Africa Southern Atlantic Marine Science Workshop held yesterday illustrates the strong interest by Brazil and South Africa in exploring opportunities for collaboration in the Southern Atlantic and joining the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. We hope that the discussion that began yesterday will continue and that collaborative opportunities can continue to be explored and identified.
The Atlantic Ocean is, as the title of this event reminds us, “A Shared Resource.” We all have a stake. By working together to increase our understanding of this complex resource, we can ensure that the best science and information is available to support critical management decisions in the future. And that, after all, is why we are all here today.
I hope you will enjoy the event and wish you all success as you work together to implement the Galway Statement. Thank you.