8 May 2019 - It’s easy to lose sight of good news amid the barrage of negative stories about the threats facing the ocean—everything from growing plastic pollution to dying coral reefs. However, there is a lot to celebrate when you look more closely at ocean-related developments.
Over the past few years, the ocean has been rising rapidly on the international agenda, powered by the recognition that we need major change to secure ocean health as a basis for generating ocean wealth (in other words, sustainable development). People are increasingly realizing that the ocean is essential to life on this planet, providing oxygen and food, controlling the weather, absorbing excess carbon emissions and supporting entire industries and millions of jobs.
Now, governments and industries are joining forces for ocean solutions. New approaches to the ocean are allowing production and protection to operate together. Here are just a few recent positive developments:
1. Indonesian Government and Partners Tackle Plastic Pollution
The Indonesian government, which in 2017 pledged $1 billion a year to reduce marine debris 70 percent by 2025, recently teamed up with the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) to take an innovative and data-driven approach to solving the ocean plastic crisis.
Hosted by the World Economic Forum, GPAP aims to redesign the global "take-make-dispose" economy into a circular one.
The GPAP team in Jakarta is collecting local waste management data and building a model that evaluates solutions such as reducing overpackaging, substituting materials, creating new recyclable plastics, increasing recycling rates and improving waste collection rates.
For each solution, the model will estimate the investment needed, timeline, environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the impact on people's lives. The partnership aims to deploy solutions that could eventually be replicated in other countries.
2. Electric Ferries Help Decarbonize Maritime Transport
The operators of Norway's first all-electric ferry, the Ampere, reported impressive statistics after two years of operations. The all-electric ferry cut carbon dioxide emissions by 95 percent and reduced operating costs by 80 percent compared to traditional diesel-powered ferries.
Cruise liners, ferries, tankers and freighters are a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants. To reduce reliance on diesel and heavy fuel oil that power these vessels, shipbuilders are turning to hybrid and electric ships.
3. A Turning Point for Africa in the Fight Against Illegal Fishing
The Southern African region loses an estimated $500 million per year through illegal fishing. Namibia recently became the seventh signatory to a charter establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordination Center.
The Center, to be based in Mozambique, will strengthen regional efforts in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Signatory countries will create joint law enforcement operations, reform legislation, and build small fisheries’ capacity to more effectively manage fish populations.