In his opening remarks to the meeting by the state parties to UNCLOS on June 17, Guterres cited a number of challenges that the world's oceans are facing, including the loss of half of the living coral in the past 150 years, the 10-fold increase of plastic pollution in the sea in the last four decades and the over-exploitation of one-third of the world's fish stocks.
He also pointed to the problems of ocean acidification and sea level rise.
The consequences of these pressures are already being felt by low-lying coastal states, small island developing states and coastal communities, he said, adding that declining ocean health ultimately affects all.
In battling these pressures, Guterres said the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda are the guide and UNCLOS is the legal framework.
In this regard, he said that the 2030 Agenda commits the international community to the implementation of the legal regime under UNCLOS, as it specifically calls for enhancement of the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the convention.
The UN Secretary-General said through implementing the provisions of UNCLOS, many challenges facing the oceans can be addressed, thus calling on the countries that have not yet ratified or acceded to the convention to do so.