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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Opening ceremonies at Marseille - Achieving Oceankind

By Kim Wright

Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseilles
The ocean, ever changing, is like the civilizations of humanity. It is mortal and it too could perish. This sentiment was shared in the opening ceremonies of the International Marine Protected Area Congress. With 1,300 participants from 19 nations participating, the congress opening plenary day aimed to create a cohesion between us and bring out our creativity.

Most of the day was spent grappling with the concept of ‘oceankind’ and how we might achieve it. Oceankind is the state society will achieve when it becomes aware of the link that binds each person to the ocean's future, wherever they may live.

The town of Marseille is overlooked by the monumental chapel Notre-Dame de la Garde, named for the Virgin Mary who has guarded the city since 1214. There are also many other military fortifications that have more literally guarded the city at the mouth of the port and on nearby islands since Marseille was founded. The need for both a guard of force and a guard of spirit, presented by these two approaches, is at the heart of oceankind. Our need to regulate, monitor and measure the sea through scientific and legal means is necessary on the one hand, but on the other, our deeper connection to the mother ocean— covering 71 percent of the planet's surface and the source of 80 percent of Earth's biodiversity—is the spirit that will carry us through to the greater appreciation for why we must protect the ocean: so she can keep us alive.

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