Over the water. What if the ocean becomes a common good of mankind?

The Atlantic Ocean, Landes beach, in Hossegor in September 2019.
The Atlantic Ocean, Landes beach, in Hossegor in September 2019 (ALEXANDRE BROCHARD PHOTOGRAPHIES / MOMENT RF / GETTY IMAGES)

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Along the water today, the sailor and MEP Catherine Chabaud. In Brussels, she fought for the ocean to have real status, but it was at sea, a long time ago, that the sailor became aware of the dangers threatening the big blue.

“In my first years of navigation, in the 80s / 90s, I myself threw metal cans into the sea, telling myself that the rust would inevitably make them disappear, recognizes Catherine Chabaud. I also threw cigarette butts overboard! “

Everything changed in 1991, when the sailor crossed the Atlantic alone. During this first mini-deckchair, she discovers polystyrene cakes in the middle of the ocean. It’s the click! “We must absolutely avoid this”, she thought to herself, while admitting that at the time, she was quite incapable of knowing what to do.

Catherine Chabaud recognizes that the fight for the ocean is an everyday battle. The texts debated at the European Commission speak of the ocean, but insufficiently.

When it comes to climate law, there are a few lines on the ocean, whereas it would take three pages.

Catherine Chabaud, sailor and MEP

The same goes for the circular economy or the biodiversity strategy. The international convention on the law of the sea, signed in 1982 under the aegis of the United Nations, created exclusive economy zones in which states are sovereign. “This is a good thing”, explains Catherine Chabaud, but if we have given legal status to the seabed, we have forgotten what is called the “water column”.

The richness of the seabed is recognized today, but the moral notion of
The richness of the seabed is recognized today, but the moral notion of “common good” should be enshrined in the future international treaty of the high seas. (AMITH NAG PHOTOGRAPHY / MOMENT RF / GETTY IMAGES)

Today we are discovering all the riches of the ocean, but we must place above this moral notion of “common good”. A concept that we want to see included in the preamble of the High Seas Treaty, currently under discussion at the United Nations.

At COP 21, we managed to include the ocean in the preamble to the Paris Agreement, and today, we are trying to do the same for the High Seas Treaty.

Catherine Chabaud

Catherine Chabaud believes that today the various actors, political and economic, have understood that it is necessary to push the cursor of sustainability, but she is convinced that we can still do better. “We have to change the paradigm, she says, change his way of seeing things! “

The development of marine energies is a promising axis but Catherine Chabaud believes that it is necessary to take advantage of offshore wind farms to create reserve areas, develop aquaculture and promote the “reef” effect of these infrastructures, by using certain materials and by playing on the geometry of the feet of wind turbines.

“We can even find biodiversity in ports, she adds. I am absolutely certain that if all the players are convinced of the need to know the sea better in order to preserve it, it will be a pledge of development. “

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