Business should do more to save oceans: World Bank

OSLO (REUTERS) - Businesses should play a bigger role in helping to save depleted fish stocks as part of efforts to prevent irreversible damage to the oceans, a World-Bank backed report said on Wednesday.

The study, by 21 experts including government ministers, academics, conservationists and company leaders, said policies for protecting the oceans from over-fishing, pollution and climate change were often ineffective and fragmented. It recommended more public-private partnerships involving companies, governments, local communities and others to protect ecosystems that are the main source of protein for a billion people, mainly in the developing world.

"A paradigm shift is needed in how we use and conserve ocean resources to address current inadequacies," the report said.

The panel, set up by the World Bank, is one of several groups trying to find ways to deal with threats to the oceans. A separate Global Ocean Commission, for instance, is looking at how to safeguard the high seas, outside national jurisdictions. There have been many failures despite past calls for action; a UN summit in Johannesburg in 2002, for instance, set a goal, set to be missed, of restoring world fisheries to health by 2015.

The 29-page report provides an outline for action for a group of 140 nations who have signed up to seek solutions to the problems.

"It is vital to have the CEOs of major seafood companies around the table," Mr Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, chair of the panel and director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia, told Reuters by telephone.

He said that management would make it easier to apply lessons from one part of the world elsewhere.

"The same problems that are occurring for coral reefs in Thailand are occurring in Tanzania," he said. "This is about creating that platform where you could swap ideas and develop technologies as a global community."