Chile Reelected as Member of the Oceanographic Commission’s Executive Council
By Nastasia Barceló/Diálogo July 27, 2017Chile was elected for the second time as a member of the Executive Council of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The South American nation was reelected thanks to the work it did over the course of its previous two-year term, and because of its contributions on issues such as climate change and environmental management. Since 2015, Chile has been one of eight countries to develop a national oceanic policy whose objectives are in line with those of IOC. Founded in 1960, the goal of IOC is to promote cooperation among its members for carrying out scientific research activities geared towards ocean conservation. There are 148 member states in IOC, 39 of which comprise its governing body, the Executive Council (EC). Membership on the council is rotated through general elections held every other year. The General Assembly is the main body of IOC, and its function is to establish a general set of policies for the organization, to draft a working agenda for each term, and to elect a group of countries to sit on the EC. Its decisions are adopted by a simple majority during ordinary meetings held every two years. The commission is guided by a set of principles that include respect for the environment, the preservation of life and the marine environment, and promoting sustainable development. The XXVIII General Assembly was held from June 18th-25th in Paris, France. In addition to electing the new EC members, the meeting dealt with issues related to risk mitigation and marine research. Chile, an oceanic country The 48th Meeting of the IOC Executive Council was held just days before the General Assembly. Rear Admiral Patricio Carrasco, the director of the Chilean Navy's Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (SHOA, per its Spanish acronym), participated along with other Chilean authorities. “For the defense of Chile's maritime interests, and especially for SHOA, having been reelected as members of the IOC was more than important,” he said. “During our term, we strengthened our association with IOC with the upgrade of the Seismic Sea Wave Warning System, which evaluates and communicates possible tsunami threats in the event of a high-magnitude earthquake off the Chilean coast, to the authorities.” “During these years of cooperation between IOC, SHOA, and the Chilean National Oceanographic Committee, the number of studies which have helped us get to know and understand the behavior of the bodies of water in our territory has increased, allowing for sustainable use of our marine space and for the safeguarding of our national sovereignty,” Rear Adm. Carrasco added. “Chile is an oceanic country, therefore the creation of a serious and committed set of politics should be a priority. Approximately 80 percent of Chile's economy moves by sea, where more than 40 million metric tons of products are transported every year,” he said. Chilean Navy Rear Admiral Otto Mrugalski Meiser, the director of Maritime Interests and Aquatic Environment, explained that it is essential for IOC to have a country like Chile among its ranks. “With a long-term view in mind, our country has been developing a national oceanic policy. Only eight countries around the world have policies specially created for dealing with its seas, and Chile is one of them,” he explained. The Chilean Navy and Ministry of Defense have central roles in supervising national oceanic policies which were first drafted in 2015. “Their objectives coincide, in large part, with those of the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission,” Rear Adm. Mrugalski added. Based on the 1995 New York Fish Stocks Agreement, and the Agreement of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on Port-State Measures, Chile aims to mitigate the risks caused by illegal fishing in its Exclusive Economic Zone, as well as to reduce marine pollution and the effects of climate change on the oceans. That’s why the creation of new protected marine areas is planned. “One of our achievements was the creation of the Nazca-Desventuradas marine reserve because it will help depleted fisheries recover in the Southern Pacific zone. In September 2016, a total area of 300,000 square kilometers fell under protection, including the islands of San Félix and San Ambrosio,” Rear Adm. Mrugalski concluded.