United Nations: The illicit exploitation of oceans undermines the peace and security of small island countries, Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon told the UN on Saturday.
"Illicit exploitation of natural resources, maritime piracy and other criminal activities threaten and undermine the peace and security of our countries," Xinhua quoted Maumoon as saying at the annual high-level debate of the UN General Assembly.
"Oceans are intimately linked with our lives and livelihoods," she added.
"Oceans and their wealth are the drivers of our economy, they are the source of our food, and the backbone of our heritage and traditions."
Maumoon said that for this reason, her country has taken specific steps to protect their ocean environment, including banning turtle poaching in the early 1980s and declaring the entire Maldives a shark sanctuary.
Maumoon also emphasized on the danger of rising sea levels due to climate change to small island developing countries -- including the Maldives.
She called for the UN member states to reconsider climate change as a security threat.
"For us in the Maldives, climate change is a security threat. It damages our economy, deprives us of our rights, of our land, and our way of life. It is a threat to the very existence of our nation."