UN chief warns oceans are ‘under threat as never before’

In this 2016 photo provided by NOAA, a bluefin trevally swims on a reef off Hawaii's island of Kahoolawe. U.S. officials say the first-ever assessment of Hawaii's reef fish shows that 11 of 27 species are experiencing some level of overfishing. Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center announced in a statement Monday, March 6, 2017 that 11 species including ulua, five surgeonfishes, two goatfishes, and three parrotfishes are being overfished. (Jeanette Clark/NOAA Fisheries via AP)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has opened the first-ever U.N. conference on oceans with a warning that the lifeblood of the planet is “under threat as never before,” with one recent study warning that discarded plastic garbage could outweigh fish by 2050 if nothing is done.

The U.N. chief told presidents, ministers, diplomats and environmental activists from nearly 200 countries on Monday that oceans are being severely damaged by pollution, overfishing and the effects of climate change as well as refuse.

Guterres said the aim of the five-day conference is “to turn the tide” and solve the problems that “we created.”

He said competing territorial and fights over natural resources have blocked progress for far too long.

“We must put aside short-term national gain to prevent long-term global catastrophe,” the secretary-general said.

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