Ocean Action Hub

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118 organizations make sustainability appeal for global tuna fisheries

18 May 2018 - A wide consortium of global tuna buyers, NGOs, and fishing industry associations have issued a call to regional fishery management organizations that they adopt more stringen

18 May 2018 - A wide consortium of global tuna buyers, NGOs, and fishing industry associations have issued a call to regional fishery management organizations that they adopt more stringent rules on harvest strategies, fish-aggregating devices, bycatch limits, catch monitoring and control, and surveillance.

The letter, issued by a diverse, global group of 118 commercial and nonprofit organizations calling for “immediate action by tuna RFMOs to address critical tuna sustainability priorities.” The missive was sent to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

The initiative was organized by the NGO Tuna Forum, which seeks to bring together organizations that work comprehensively on tuna sustainability issues globally, with the goal of “elevating inter-NGO engagement and increasing market partner engagement where possible on issues and opportunities that fall within one or more of the following core focus areas: RFMO management & advocacy; market-based mechanisms for improving sustainability; and on-water research, activities, and improvements.”

The letter, dated 7 May, 2018, calls for accelerated action on the following global tuna fishery priorities:

  • The development and implementation of comprehensive, precautionary harvest strategies 
  • Effective monitoring and management of fish aggregating devices (FADs)
  • Strengthened monitoring, control and surveillance tools, including increased observer coverage in purse seine and longline fisheries, and of at-sea transshipment activity, through human observers and electronic monitoring
  • Greater focus on the implementation of bycatch mitigation best practices broadly, with an emphasis on longline fisheries

“Tuna fisheries represent not only a high-value protein source but also an important economic driver for countries and communities around the globe. As a highly migratory, global species, the health of tuna stocks is of global concern – as witnessed by the breadth of signatories to this appeal,” the NGO Tuna Forum said in a press release. “The organizations believe these measures are needed to positively impact the long-term sustainability of tuna stocks and the overall health of the marine ecosystem.

Specific actions that IOTC, IATTC, ICCAT and WCPFC are being asked to address in 2018 include:

1. Develop and implement comprehensive, precautionary harvest strategies with specific timelines for all tuna stocks, including the adoption and implementation of target and limit reference points, harvest control rules, monitoring strategies, operational objectives, performance indicators, and management strategy evaluation;

2. Adopt a 100 percent observer coverage requirement for purse seine vessels where it is not already required, and require the use of the best-available observer safety equipment, communications and procedures;

3. Increase compliance with mandatory minimum five percent longline observer coverage rates by identifying and sanctioning non-compliance, and adopt and implement a 100 percent observer coverage requirement – human and/or electronic – within five years for longline fisheries;

4. Adopt and implement a 100 percent observer coverage requirement for at-sea transshipment activities, as well as other measures that ensure transshipment activity is transparent and well-managed, and that all required data is fully collected and sent to the appropriate bodies in a timely manner;

5. Develop and implement science-based recommendations for the effective management of FADs, and integrate FAD-based information into stock assessments to reduce uncertainties;

6. Adopt effective measures for the use of non-entangling FAD designs as a precautionary measure to minimize the entanglement of sharks and other non-target species, and support research on biodegradable materials and transition to their use to mitigate marine debris;

7. More effectively implement, and ensure compliance with, existing RFMO bycatch requirements and take additional mitigation action, such as improving monitoring at sea, collecting and sharing operational-level, species-specific data, and adopting stronger compliance measures, including consequences for non-compliance for all gear types.

“While the signatories recognize that RFMOs have made progress to-date on some these priorities, accelerated action is required on all fronts to ensure the long-term sustainability of tuna fisheries,” the NGO Tuna Forum said in its release.

The full letter and the list of signatories can be viewed at the NGO Tuna Forum website.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/environment-sustainability/118-organi...

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Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles may shape future ocean investment

27 Mar 2018 - With the goal of preserving and increasing the value generated by the world’s oceans, corporate, environmental, non-profit and other participants in the Economist World Ocean

27 Mar 2018 - With the goal of preserving and increasing the value generated by the world’s oceans, corporate, environmental, non-profit and other participants in the Economist World Ocean Summit, held in Mexico from 7 to 9 March, created a new set of voluntary guidelines for institutional investors to create a path toward greater aquatic sustainability.

The annual economic value generated by the world’s oceans is estimated to be at least USD 2.5 trillion (EUR 2 trillion), making it the equivalent of the seventh-largest economy on the planet.  The summit reviewed the numerous stresses being placed on the world’s oceans, including declining biodiversity, degrading habitat, increasing water acidity, accumulating plastic and other wastes, and rising temperatures and participants came to a consensus that concerted action is required to protect and restore ocean health to avoid stunting the fast-growing global blue economy. The summit closed with the unveiling of 14 Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles intended to guide the path to sustainable ocean development.

“Reconciling economic development aspirations with ocean ecosystems that are already showing great stress is one of the great challenges facing humanity,” WWF International President Pavan Sukhdev said. “The role of the finance and investment community to find a pathway to genuine sustainability is vital, which is why the new principles were created. We welcome additional signatories to this critical initiative as well as strong partnerships to ensure their success.”

The blue economy principles emerged out of a partnership between the European Commission, WWF, the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, and the European Investment Bank (EIB), which in 2017 set out to look at how the finance and investment community could play a strong role in driving change. They found that for financiers investing in this complex and risky environment, there was little guidance available on how to act. 

The new coalition’s first formal act, initiated in May 2017, was to commission a study by Accenture Development Partnerships on existing green and blue economy finance initiatives. This was followed by EIB-led consultations with a broad range of private and public financial institutions, insurance companies, NGOs, and other interested parties, that resulted in the idea to develop a set of principles that reflected the needs of as many stakeholders as possible.

The newly released principles, which include seven focused on sustainable investment and seven principles specific to the blue economy, are designed to foster cooperation and communication on ocean health, scientific research, data collection, and technical innovation, according to the coalition.

The principles complement existing frameworks in sustainable finance, and recognize the importance of compliance, transparency, and disclosure, the coalition said. They were designed to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, a set of international development objectives adopted in 2015 aimed at poverty elimination, environmental stability, and global peace and prosperity. One of those goals calls for conservation and sustainable use of the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources. In addition, the principles are compliant with International Finance Corporation Performance Standards and EIB’s Environmental and Social Principles and Standards.

“Harnessing global investment and ensuring investor confidence through transparency and disclosure are key to increasing support for the blue economy and strengthening sustainable development in coastal communities,” EIB Vice President Jonathan Taylor said. “The European Investment Bank is pleased to support the Blue Finance Principles, which will help to optimize the use of scarce public resources and crowd in private sector investment. New investment in the blue economy is essential to diversify economic activity in communities most at risk from a changing climate and to enhance resilience to extreme weather events.”

The partnership now hopes that the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles will become more widely adopted, and aims to build an international coalition of financial institutions that endorse them. The result would be a transformation in the way in which humanity manages ocean resources, and become a testament to how profitability can go hand-in-hand with environmental and social stewardship, Taylor said.

Several big names have already signed up, including Althelia Ecosphere, Aviva Investors, the EIB, The Nature Conservancy, Rockefeller Ocean Strategy, Sky, the U.N. Principles for Sustainable Insurance, and the World Bank. 

The principles have also received endorsement in the final report of the European Union High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, which was published in January 2018. In its report, the group recommended the broad adoption and implementation of the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles by the finance community.

“One sector’s activity can have unintentional consequences on other industries, or on ocean ecosystems and the communities that rely on them for food security and livelihood,” Taylor said. “The full value of the ocean’s natural capital asset therefore depends on our ability to protect, maintain and restore it where necessary, for future shared use.”

CONTINUE READING: https://www.seafoodsource.com/features/sustainable-blue-economy-finance-...

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Philippines promises fishery reforms by 2022

31 Oct 2017 - The Philippines is partnering with the conservation group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to reform fishery management policy and is investing in enforcement, the government

31 Oct 2017 - The Philippines is partnering with the conservation group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to reform fishery management policy and is investing in enforcement, the government announced at the Our Ocean conference in Malta earlier this month.

The country committed to establish reforms for major commercial fisheries by 2022.

“Healthy fisheries are critical to the well-being of all Filipinos, and we are committed to making fishing sustainable nationwide,” Eduardo Gongona, undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture for Fisheries, said in a statement. “By building our policy reforms on science and investing in reliable enforcement, we can ensure healthy fisheries for the future.”

More than five million Filipinos make a living from fishing, while millions more rely on it for a food source. Ninety percent of fish caught in the Philippines is consumed locally.

But 10 of the country’s 13 major fishing grounds are overfished, according to EDF, with some facing collapse if reforms aren’t implemented. A fishery collapse would devastate fishing families, who are already poorer than the rest of the Filipino population. Without changes, the Philippines will have to rely on other countries for seafood by 2040, EDF says.

EDF promotes fishery management mechanisms in which fishermen have an ownership stake in fisheries but must adhere to sustainable catch limits. Such fishing practices in the Philippines could quadruple fish populations and feed an additional 25 million people by 2050, with fishing profits rising 500 percent, EDF says. Most fisheries could be healthy within a decade.

The Philippines is setting “an example for the region and the rest of the world for how to build policies that improve food security and provide economic development, while at the same time recovering fisheries, John Mimikakis, the vice president for Asia for EDF’s Oceans program, said in the statement.

High-level officials have already indicated willingness to pursue reforms. President Rodrigo Duterte declared September as the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month.

Meanwhile, law enforcement in Tanon Strait was recently bolstered after regulators required all commercial fishing vessels to have vessel monitoring measures. A special prosecutor from the Department Justice was designated to handle fisheries and conservation cases in the Strait.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/environment-sustainability/philippine...

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WTO working on agreement to eliminate fisheries subsidies

17 Aug 2017 - Elimination of government subsidies deemed harmful by the World Trade Organization will be high on the agenda at an upcoming meeting of WTO member states in Argentina.

17 Aug 2017 - Elimination of government subsidies deemed harmful by the World Trade Organization will be high on the agenda at an upcoming meeting of WTO member states in Argentina.

Member states are hoping to reach a firm agreement on reducing and eliminating fisheries subsidies by December 2017, when they will convene at the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The topic was discussed at a WTO members meeting earlier this month at which members submitted their proposals for subsidies reduction.

Seven proposals were received at that meeting, many of them joint proposals involving multiple nations. All aim to reduce or eliminate subsidies on fisheries that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, as well as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The proposed rules also oblige member states to refrain from introducing new subsidies that might have such effects.

The proposals exclude subsidies granted for aquaculture and inland fishing, as well as subsidies meant to support small-scale and artisanal fisheries from being eliminated or reduced. The proposals also make provision for granting least-developed countries and developing countries a longer deadline for applying the rules on eliminating maritime subsidies.

The proposals are in line with the 2030 United Nations’ Agenda for Sustainable Development, to which the member states are signatories, and have as their objective “restoring fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics,” according to a WTO document.

Member states of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) submitted one of the seven proposals presented this month. The Caribbean Community, or Caricom, whose members are part of the ACP, “has been studying the various proposals, including the ACP proposal, and has also developed its own position in order to negotiate for an improved ACP proposal,” Susan Singh-Renton, the deputy executive director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, told SeafoodSource.

Stressing that she was responding to questions in her personal capacity and not on behalf of Caricom, Singh-Renton said that Caricom member states typically give subsidies for fuel and gear to the fishing industry. She said that the elimination of subsidies would help “make room” to develop the fisheries of developing states.

“Only those operations considered to be unsustainable are being targeted for reduction/elimination...Caricom is striving to negotiate for provisions that secure livelihoods for developing fisheries and fisheries operating at a sustainable level,” Singh-Renton said. “Some fisheries subsidies, especially those granted by developed countries, have led to situations of excessive fishing capacity and hence depleted fish stocks. These subsidies need to be reduced and eliminated in order to guarantee long-term economic benefits for all.”

CONTINUE READING: https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/supply-trade/wto-working-on-agreement...