The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Nathaniel Blama, has said the hosting of the Blue Oceans Conference (BOC) in Liberia is directly in line with the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development which seeks to improve the lives of Liberians.
Speaking at the official opening of the Blue Oceans Conference on Wednesday at a local hotel in Monrovia, Blama said to have an improved quality of life everyone must make a sustained and universal commitment to keep moving forward in every aspect of society.
Like other conferences, he added, the gathering is not just about talking, but it is about outlining specific steps that everyone will take.
“We are here to discuss real, concrete actions that can make a difference,” Blama noted.
Blama also stated that discussions at the conference will surround new ways to monitor and address climate change and issues about the ocean.
“We are here to examine innovative means for mitigating the flow of pollution from land to the ocean, and we will continue to outline further plans for the West African community to come together in preserving our fish stocks and preventing illegal fishing,” Blama pointed out.
The EPA official said that the bottom line is that the current effort is not beyond their capacity, however, it is geared towards making the right choices, setting the right priorities and responding in a timely manner to the same understanding that saving the ocean is not just an option but an absolute necessity.
He conveyed gratitude to all participants and partners of the two-day conference and expressed optimism of a good outcome in mitigating marine pollution in Liberia and the region at large.
For his part, the Deputy Commissioner for Technical Services of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), Charles A. Gono disclosed that more than 4,000 vessels are flying the Liberian flag over oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and other water bodies.
Deputy Commissioner Gono stated that the Blue Oceans Conference is vital to Liberia because the country is the second largest ‘Flag State’ in the world.
According to him, Liberia is also a ‘Port State’ with four ports that cater to international and local vessels, a ‘Coastal State’ with local and international vessels trading along its coast and blessed with inland waterways.
He asserted that this is a clear manifestation of the benefits of the Blue economy.
Commissioner Gono explained that Liberia is aware of the importance of combating and mitigating marine pollution, reducing emissions to limit climate change and ocean acidification in its critical role in setting and implementing policies to reach national target.
“The blue economy is a vital area in any nation that is blessed to possess the resource being a major asset to a nation and major investment in national development, it plays a critical role in the productivity and growth of a nation,” he added.
Gono stressed that the blue economy emphasizes the economic potential of ocean resources, ranging from fishing, natural resource extraction, to ecotourism.
Commissioner Gono maintained that the blue economy is not only about economic growth, but also about the importance of striking a balance between blue growth, ocean health and sustainability.
He noted that the ocean economy has not been given the needed recognition that it deserves, especially in some coastal countries where most natural resources are taken for granted, noting that this is so because of the ignorance of the people or the degraded recognition of its importance to the nation.
He pointed out that in the Liberian circumstances, where the blue economy contributes more meaningfully to the national development there should be proper and adequate policy regulation, investment in inland waterways development, serious investment in maritime industry and security and enough funding to facilitate the protection and security of the territorial oceans.
“The protection of our oceans, seas, rivers and lakes are some of the key pillars towards the growth of revenues, environmental protection and ecotourism as well as human being” Commissioner Gono stressed.
He cited that Liberia has an ocean terrain that makes use of commerce, industry, science and technology for present and future generations and that fits well with LMA’s vision to build a vibrant domestic maritime program that is financially self-sustaining, internationally compliant and effective in protecting the maritime domain.