Remarks by Ambassador Blake at Jakarta Fisheries University, Jakarta

Coordinating Minister Maritime Affairs Indroyono Soesilo,
Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti,
MMAF Director General of Human Resource Development  Dr. Sukoyono,
President Jakarta Fisheries University Tatang Taufiq Hidayat,
Mr César Grillón, Paraguay Ambassador
Jakarta Fisheries University Cadets &Teachers,
JFU Students dialing in from Sidoarjo (East Java), Bitung (North Sulawesi), Sorong (Papua), and colleagues from Mississippi State.

I am delighted and honored to be invited to speak before this distinguished audience.  I want to extend a warm welcome to Coordinating Minister Soesilo and Ibu Susi with whom we work closely and have become good friends.

I also want to congratulate Jakarta Fisheries University on its important mission to educate the next generation of fisheries experts and learn about sustainable fishing so that we can all work to protect the oceans and derive sustainable livelihoods from them.

Today we’re also marking the opening of JFU’s Indonesian American Network, a resource center with books and other resources on the United States.

We are also celebrating the partnership between JFU and Mississippi State University.  This is part of our strategic priority to establish partnerships between education institutions in Indonesia and America.  I am pleased that JFU is putting into place new partnerships with Oregon State University, University of Washington, and San Diego State.

We hope such partnerships will complement and support America’s commitment to work with Indonesia to protect our oceans by conserving marine biodiversity, protecting food security for millions of people through sustainable fisheries, and assisting Indonesia in reaping maximum economic benefits through deterring illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

A commitment to protecting the ocean, is not only a priority of the United States, but of my own personally.  I am an enthusiastic diver and have had the great pleasure of diving in Raja Ampat, Labuan Bajo and Bunaken, which are some of the greatest dive sites in the world and a testament to Indonesia’s unique marine biodiversity.
Benefits of the Ocean

I learned very early on to appreciate the vast expanse of our oceans, so vast that three quarters of our planet is actually ocean.   Because there is only one interconnected and interdependent ocean, our ocean is the greatest of all of our shared assets. Millions of people depend on it for their livelihoods – supporting up to 12 percent of the world’s population.

The Ocean is an indispensable resource for global food security, given that more than 3 billion people – 50 percent of the people on this planet – in every corner of the world depend on fish as a significant source of protein.

The ocean is essential to maintaining the environment in which we all live. It’s responsible for recycling things like water, carbon, nutrients throughout our planet and throughout the ecosystem so that we have air to breathe, and water to drink. And it is home to literally millions of species, particularly here in Indonesia.

But our ocean is also under threat.  Pollution and unsustainable fishing in one quarter of the ocean, matter to those living thousands of miles away. The connection between a healthy ocean and life itself for every single person on Earth cannot be overstated.

Our ocean is experiencing degradation at an unprecedented rate and most people are not aware of it:

  • A third of the world’s fish stocks are overexploited, too much money chasing too few fish, and nearly all the rest are being fished at or near their absolute maximum sustainable level on a planet that has 6 billion people today and will rise to 9 over the next 30 to 50 years.
  • Part of the problem is something called bycatch, where up to half or two thirds of the fish in a particular catch are not actually what the fisherman was looking for and they’re simply thrown overboard.
  • And when people go swimming or surfing along the coast, often they don’t realize that pollution has led to more than 500 dead zones in the ocean, areas where life simply cannot exist any longer.
  • According to a recent ground-breaking study published in the journal Science, the world has lost 40% of its coral reefs, which are the breeding grounds and nurseries for 4,000 species of fish and serve as coastal buffers against storms.
  • When tourists snorkel and dive in Indonesia, they often don’t realize that our coral reefs are decreasing at an unprecedented rate due in part to climate change, which is warming the oceans and causingocean acidification.
  • Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has absorbed nearly 30 percent of human-generated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As ocean water absorbs carbon dioxide, it becomes more acidic.
  • This rapid rate of carbon dioxide uptake means that the chemistry of the ocean is changing 10 times faster than at any other time in the past 50 million years. Such a rapid change in ocean chemistry will likely have broad and significant impacts on marine ecosystems, the services they provide, and the coastal economies that depend on them.
  • A marine biologist from Rutgers, Dr. Malin Pinsky put it well recently:  “If you cranked up the heater in your aquarium and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy.  In effect, that’s what we are doing to our oceans.”

The bottom line is that most people don’t realize that if the entire world doesn’t come together to try to change course and protect the ocean from unsustainable fishing practices, unprecedented pollution, or the devastating effects of climate change, then we run the risk of fundamentally changing or destroying entire ecosystems.

Which is why what you are studying is so integral to the survival of generations to come. If we don’t begin to change the way we do things, how we fish, where we fish – and increase the awareness of such issues as destructive fishing practices or marine pollution – there will be no ocean for us to enjoy and benefit from in the future.

This is a critical priority to the United States.  I’d like to share with you what the US has done to protect our oceans as well as how we’re collaborating directly with Minister Soesilo and Minister Susi to ensure the protection of Indonesia’s oceans.

US Actions Towards Oceans Conservation:

National Oceans Policy: President Obama launched our National Ocean Policy early in his first term. The  Policy seeks to streamline more than 100 laws that govern our oceans and create a coordinated, science-based approach to managing the many resources and uses of our coasts and oceans. National Ocean Policy initiatives range from voluntary marine planning to releasing more federal data to supporting offshore renewable energy projects to making our ports more resilient to sea level rise.

Our Oceans Conference: In June of last year, Secretary Kerry hosted the “Our Oceans” conference, an international conference on sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. The conference resulted in $1.8 billion in pledges from governments globally towards the protection of our oceans.

New protections for world-class marine areas. Last spring, President Obama announced a commitment to use his authority to protect some of our most precious marine landscape. As an example of this commitment, in September of this past year, the President signed a declaration creating the largest marine reserve in the world – the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Commercial fishing is prohibited in this 490,000 square mile area. Originally designated as an 83,000 sq mile protected area by President Bush in 2009, this is an example of how the U.S has used existing foundations to expand our conservation efforts – just as we know Indonesia can do as well.

In addition, the US has taken multiple steps to protect coastal communities from the impacts of climate change, improve domestic aquaculture, and provide research to better understand the challenges facing our oceans. We prioritize the role of science and technology in forming the foundation for policy and regulation development.

For example, the Department of Interior announced $102 million in competitive grants funding science based solutions to restore flood plains and natural barriers, such as marshes and wetlands along the Atlantic Coast. The funded projects will help deliver on the Administration’s Climate Action Plan commitment to make local communities more resilient against future storms.

Combating IUU. As an output of the Oceans Conference, President Obama last June announced the creation of an IUU task force to develop a comprehensive program for combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and addressing seafood fraud.

As Indonesia well knows, black market and illegal fishing constitutes up to 20 percent of the wild marine fish caught each year around the world, and drains up to $23 billion from legitimate fishing enterprises.

  • After 6 months of analysis, this task force just recently in December released its recommendations to President Obama for addressing IUU fishing.
  • Many of the recommendations address the same challenges that countries all over the world face, including Indonesia, such as how to better collect and manage data to adequately trace and monitor seafood, standardizing rules for the identification of fish species, enhancing collaboration among national, state and local governments, and increasing enforcement collaboration among all pertinent agencies.
  • And let me applaud the Indonesian government for recently creating its own task force to combat IUU fishing.

Last and perhaps most important, the US is taking a leading role to combat climate change.  President Obama and Secretary Kerry understand that as one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, we have to contribute more to the solution and lead the global response.  And we are doing so.

  • We’re going straight to the largest source of pollution by targeting emissions from transportation and power sources, which account for roughly 60 percent of the dangerous greenhouse gases that we release.   The President has put in place standards to double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks in the American roads.
  • We’ve also proposed regulations that will curb carbon pollution coming from new power plants, and similar regulations to limit the carbon pollution coming from power plants that are already up and running, and we plan to take many of them out of commission.
  • Since President Obama took office, the United States has tripled our wind energy production, and increased solar energy production more than tenfold.
  • We’ve also become smarter about the way we use energy in our homes and businesses. And as a result, we’re emitting less overall than we have at any time in the last 20 years.

This is by far the most ambitious set of climate change actions that the United States has ever undertaken. And it’s the reason we were able to recently announce our post-2020 goal of reducing emissions from 26 to 28 percent, from 2005 levels, by 2025. That will put us squarely on the road to a more sustainable and prosperous economy.

It is important that Indonesia and all other countries make similar ambitious pledges to ensure the success of the UN climate conference in Paris and the future health of our planet and oceans.

U.S.-Indonesian Cooperation

The partnership here today between Indonesia and the United States reflects this evolving necessity – that the solutions to the challenges threatening our oceans require commitments and contributions from everyone.

And the good news is that we are working together:

  • Our USAID program has contributed $35 million over the past years and is about to provide another $33 million for the upcoming five years towards the protection of marine resources and promotion of sustainable fisheries in Indonesia. Protection matters because 40% of the world’s yellow fin tuna, for example, spawn in Indonesian waters.
  • US businesses with a presence in Indonesia are also actively involved in supporting Indonesia’s marine sustainability. For example, MARS – one of the world’s leading manufacturers of pet food supplies with factories here in Indonesia has created an innovative coral reef restoration sites in Pulau Badi, South Sulawesi.
  • We have been working very closely with Minister Susi and her staff to determine how the United States can support Indonesia in its maritime sovereignty priority through combatting IUU fishing.
  • One of those ways is happening right now as we speak. Representatives from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are here this week working with KKP staff to provide a new satellite technology that detects lights on fishing boats at nighttime.
  • The US has been a significant supporter of the establishment of the Coral Triangle Initiative and we plan to continue our support to Indonesia as the host of Regional Secretariat in Manado so that it can successfully fulfill its regional leadership potential.
  • And we encouraging partnerships such as this with Mississippi State and others such as those with the University of Rhode Island to build partnerships and capacity.

The fact is we as human beings share nothing so completely as the ocean that covers nearly three quarters of our planet. And because we share nothing so completely as our ocean, each of us also shares the responsibility to protect it.

You as students here at the Jakarta Fisheries University have the knowledge and power to make a difference – to ensure that Indonesia has enough fish to sustain its population as a source of protein, to promote greater conservation of Indonesia’s unparalleled marine resources, and to work towards guaranteeing that those to come after you – your children and your grandchildren can enjoy and benefit from the ocean as much as we do today.

You will find in the United States a strong and committed partner.  Thank you!
As prepared.