‘‘This issue is bigger than all of us, and we cannot wait for the next generation to solve it. We are running out of excuses to not take action, and running out of time,’’ the president said from a manned submersible 400 feet below the waves, on the seabed off the outer islands of the African nation.
’’ It made him more determined than ever to speak out for marine protection, he said. ‘‘We just need to do what ne to be done.
The oceans’ role in regulating climate and the threats they face are underestimated by many, even though as Faure pointed out they generate ‘‘half of the oxygen we breathe.
Small island nations are among the most vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change, and some have found creative ways to express their concerns.
Faure’s speech came a decade after members of the Maldives’ Cabinet donned scuba gear and used hand signals at an underwater meeting highlighting global warming’s threat to the lowest-lying nation on earth.
Land erosion, dying coral reefs, and the increased frequency of extreme weather events threaten such countries’ existence.
During the expedition, marine scientists from the University of Oxford have surveyed underwater life, mapped large areas of the sea floor, and gone deep with manned submersibles and underwater drones.
Little is known about the watery world below depths of 100 feet, the limit to which a normal scuba diver can go.
5 square miles of seabed using high-resolution multibeam sonar equipment.
The initiative is important for the country’s ‘‘blue economy,’’ an attempt to balance development ne with those of the environment.
‘‘From this depth, I can see the incredible wildlife that ne our protection, and the consequences of damaging this huge ecosystem that has existed for millennia,’’ Faure said in his speech.
‘‘Over the years, we have created these problems. We can solve them.
Researchers hope their findings also will inform ongoing United Nations talks aimed at forging the first high seas conservation treaty, scheduled to conclude this year.
Environmental groups argue an international treaty is urgently needed because climate change, overfishing, and efforts to mine the seabed for precious minerals are putting unsustainable pressure on marine life that could have devastating consequences for creatures on land as well.
Oceans will be one of the seven main themes of this year’s United Nations climate summit in Chile in December.
While scientists with the Nekton mission are nearing the end of their expedition, much of their work is just beginning. In the next few months, researchers at Oxford will analyze the samples and video surveys and put them together with environmental data.
‘‘When we pull them together we can understand not just what we see in the areas that we’ve visited but what we might expect in other regions in the Seychelles,’’ said Lucy Woodall, the mission’s chief scientist.