The Sea Connects All Things...

Another voice, say you, in an ocean of voices....

It is with predictable trepidation that I launch this vessel for communication about the future of the ocean, a topic as infiinite as the ocean itself. But it seems clear that public awareness about ocean issues remains diminished, erratic, and frequently confused. In 1998, the Independent Commission of the Future of the Oceans, a global committee of ocean experts chaired by Mario Soares of Portugal, observed "The problems of the oceans are multi-faceted. They have many dimensions, including moral and ethical ones. These find tangible expression in the inequalities of opportunity existing between rich and poor nations and in the absence of mechanisms to ensure that all nations and peoples benefit equitably from the uses of the oceans and the exploitation of their resources. They are also manifest in the failure to safeguard the interests of future generations."

The Commission went on to observe that public awareness of the ocean and, hence political will for its protection, is critically low and to recommend the creation of a World Ocean Observatory, the host for this Forum, as an imperative strategy for building understanding of ocean issues through information and educational services. The Observatory defines the ocean as "an integrated global SOCIAL system," and therefore attempts to relate ocean systems to other key human needs such as fresh water, food, energy, trade, transportation, public health, labor practice, international finance, governance, culture, and community development. It does so through the provision of organized informational services such as a news service, monthly letter on provocative ocean issues, downloadable exhibits, and key links, as well as educational events designed to connect classrooms worldwide with ocean experts in the field. The Observatory came on-line in January 2006 and now includes a Directory of 13,500 ocean organizations, a subscription list of 6,000, and visitors (December 2006) from 116 nations. Many new programs are planned for 2007.

I realize the ambition of such an endeavor, its many impracticalities and challenges. Nonetheless, the Observatory is committted to responsible, independent perspective and to the provision of all services at NO cost to the users. It will not compromise content with commercial advertising, sale of product, or pleas for donations.

What is the purpose of this Forum?

My hope is to engage you in a global dialogue about ocean issues, as animated and difficult as that may be. My role will be to post questions or to make observations that will challenge participants to pursue particular issues, to offer additional information and opinion, and to become a part of a new ocean commons: a community of articulate ocean activists who through individual and collective action worldwide will work to sustain the oceans "for the benefit of all mankind."

I invite you to join the World Ocean Forum.