“If the pollution of the seas, of the oceans and of the rivers is not stopped, we will leave a heavy legacy to the next generation, and we have the moral obligation to protect them, also in regard to the safety of the food present in the waters,” stressed Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development and at present the Holy See’ Permanent Observer at the United Nations Office and Specialized Institutions at Geneva, Switzerland, at the conclusion of the conference entitled “Oceans: Caring for a Common Heritage,” organized at Rome last July 4 at the University of the Holy Cross by the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, together with the Embassies of France, Monaco and the Low Countries to the Holy See.
“The objective of the congress was very simple, that of making the point of the situation to the International Community regarding the health of the oceans; how to prevent the pollution and remedy the so-called acidification of the oceans. What to do so that the three billion people who in some way are connected to the sea and the oceans for their survival, can continue to enjoy the benefits that come from them: be it in what concerns food, be it in what concerns fishing and the various activities connected to the world of water,” explained Archbishop Tomasi in an interview with ZENIT.
The Prelate also warned against the “progressive pollution due to the great quantity of plastic thrown into the seas, the oceans and the rivers, which brings acidity and alters the waters themselves.”
“According to several scholars, if the present tendencies continue, by 2050 the presence of plastic in the oceans will be greater than that of fish. An aspect, naturally, not to be underestimated, because the plastic and rubbish often thrown <into the oceans> is not biodegradable, and much of it becomes food for the fish themselves, thus entering the food chain,” continued Archbishop Tomasi.
Therefore, Archbishop Tomasi said “we have the moral obligation, together with the whole International Community, to protect and guarantee for the next generations the availability and productivity also for what concerns the safety of food present in marine waters.” In sum, effective remedies must be found for the pollution of the environment.
One begins, of course, from the idea of prevention, avoiding polluted waste, seeking to work for this purpose with all the interested actors, from governments to international organizations and NGOs, and counting at the same time on the sensitization of the public.
Finally, concluded Archbishop Tomasi, when these subjects are addressed “it is good never to forget that man is at the center – men are, always <at the center>. For instance, according to recent FAO estimates more than 58 million people work today in the fishing sector, most apparently in developing countries. However, it is precisely in fishing where the greatest number of deaths are recorded of incidents during work, and numerous violations of human rights, in particular, of minors. Moreover, how can one forget the people that drown in the sea – one thinks of the Mediterranean – while fleeing from wars, hunger and persecutions; the many rescue operations that are transformed into disasters a few steps from reaching the goal. Our attention to man must never fail: it is a mission of the Church and of the whole world.”