Hyderabad, October 17: On the eve of the high level segment meetings at the UN conference on biodiversity ( COP11)  in Hyderabad that will see heads of state decide on measures to safeguard the oceans and wildlife that inhabit them, Greenpeace has gone to the sea floor to one of the most biodiverse areas of the Indian Ocean to send a message to the Indian government that they must protect the oceans and the communities whose livelihoods are dependent of the fruits of the seas.

Diving to a depth of 65 feet or nearly 20 meters just off the coast of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner reading: "India, Protect our oceans now". 

Greenpeace chose the location because of the Andaman Islands unique marine ecosystems, and highlights what is at stake if protection measures are not taken urgently.

Commenting on India’s status on protected areas, Areeba Hamid, Oceans campaigner, Greenpeace India said, “India currently has less than 2% of its marine areas protected. Outside of these areas, unsustainable destructive activities—from large ports to industrial fishing are threatening India’s rich marine bounty, and the many people who depend directly on it for its livelihoods.”

 “The proof of pudding is in the eating. If India is serious about priortising marine and coastal conservation in the country then our leaders should begin by devising comprehensive means of protecting our offshore waters. With the necessary scientific information in hand[i], they must then consult with communities, civil society and industry to ensure that effective but equitable measures are put in place.”

At the CBD COP10 in Japan, governments agreed on a new target on protected areas committing States to conserve 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Commenting on what Greenpeace International hopes from the Indian Government as chair of the of the CBD over the next two years, Veronica Frank, campaigner, Greenpeace International said:

“At the CBD COP11, the Indian government should take a leadership role in promoting strong outcomes on oceans. India could help generate the necessary global momentum to protect the world’s oceans and the millions that depend on them for their food, health and livelihoods.”