Thursday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the Our Ocean summit in New York City about the next steps needed to promote sustainable fishing and marine protected areas. It’s a particularly necessary message to deliver to the international community, considering the U.N. completely left oceans out of the conversation at last week’s Climate Summit — you know, the oceans! Those things that cover nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface, and are a significant food source for much of the world’s population, and since population is rising and marine life is slowing dying, that presents a HUGE problem for global food supply? I mean, how could you POSSIBLY forget those things?!

Phew. Anyway, back to Kerry.

After a slow-burning start to his speech — complete with nostalgic stories about children on fishing trips, taking in the-beauty-of-it-all — Kerry threw down the gauntlet.

We cannot come together, share a lot of words, good aspirations, but then it sort of vanishes into the atmosphere without the kind of follow-up that makes things happen. So that’s why being here this morning is so important.

Actually, today’s meeting was a follow-up to a previous Our Ocean summit back in June. Both were organized to address three primary issues: overfishing, pollution, and acidification. Kerry touched on all of those subjects this time around, too, citing current problems, work currently being done to temper them, and needs that are still being overlooked. To sum up in Kerry’s words:

So our mission here is clear. We need to put an end to overfishing by ensuring that every fish that makes it to market is caught legally in a way that’s reported and traceable. And we need to do a better job of protecting our ocean’s fish stocks, which play a critical role in economic security for millions of family and in food security for millions more.

He didn’t just talk about the issues and let them hang in the air — he actually presented a vague plan for enforcement. And he wants international leaders on deck to make it happen:

Agreements won’t matter if no one’s enforcing them. And MPAs are not going to be effective if no one’s monitoring them. And the kind of enforcement that we’re going to need is going to take training; it’s going to take resources. So one of the things that I’d like to focus on today, which I think is important, is how can we build the capacity on a global scale to know what’s happening?

Then he really let ’em (well, all of us) have it.

This really is a matter of stewardship. It’s also a matter of generational responsibility. We have a responsibility to make sure our kids and their families and the future has the same ocean to serve it in the same way as we have — not to be abused, but to preserve and utilize.

So thanks, Kerry, somebody needed say it (we’re looking at you, U.N.).