Ocean Action Hub

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Ocean Innovation Africa 2019

Ocean Innovation Africa 2019 gathered the key regional players of the ocean economy and tech ecosystem to start shaping Africa’s first ocean impact hub.

Ocean Innovation Africa 2019 took place on 27 November 2019 in Cape Town. This event gathered the key regional players of the ocean economy and tech ecosystem to start shaping Africa’s first ocean impact hub, based in Cape Town: OceanHub Africa.

International and local experts were invited to the event to share and participate, alongside selected delegates, in designing the future of the OceanHub Africa initiative: a platform to inspire, develop and support more ocean-minded businesses in Africa.

This event provides the platform to:

  • Build the beginning of an Ocean-impact ecosystem for the Western Cape & into Africa
  • Incorporate stakeholders input for legitimacy and commitment, to improve our capacity to implement high-impact ocean-minded developments
  • Provide strategic focus and materials to design OceanHub Africa’s KPIs and roadmap for 2020, in a bid to place Cape Town as a pioneer of a decidedly more sustainable and innovative ocean economy

TO LEARN MORE, VISIT: https://ocean-innovation.africa/

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Malawi gets $13 million to boost its Blue Economy

11 Oct 2019 - Africa’s vision for the “Blue Economy” got a boost from African Development Bank Group (AfDB) this week, with the announcement of US $13.2 million in financing for fisheries and aquaculture in Malawi.

11 Oct 2019 - Africa’s vision for the “Blue Economy” got a boost from African Development Bank Group (AfDB) this week, with the announcement of US $13.2 million in financing for fisheries and aquaculture in Malawi.

The country’s government will add another $1.38 million for the Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture Development, and Watershed Management project designed to protect Malawi’s water resources while leveraging them to create jobs, improve health and strengthen climate resilience.

It will be implemented in 14 districts, all but three of them along Malawi’s lakeshores. The districts cover all of the Lake Malawi and Chilwa basins, sections of the Shire River system, and some upland areas.

“The project is expected to directly benefit 20,000 residents around the surrounding lakeshore and inland areas, as well as 250,000 fish processors, vendors, retailers, and interns, many of whom are youth and women along the value chain,” said the AfDB in announcing the financing decision.

The benefits extend beyond Malawi and into the wider region, while aligning with the African continent’s wider goal of developing ocean and water-based economies while protecting against climate change. Seventy-five percent of transboundary watersheds are in Malawi and they are critical fish breeding and nursery grounds, the AfDB said.

CONTINUE READING: https://africatimes.com/2019/10/10/malawi-gets-13-million-to-boost-its-blue-economy/

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Cleaning up marine litter across eastern and southern Africa

31 Jul 2019 - An inaugural female-led beach clean-up exercise has helped raise awareness of the problem that marine litter poses to the environment.

31 Jul 2019 - An inaugural female-led beach clean-up exercise has helped raise awareness of the problem that marine litter poses to the environment. In Kenya alone, the beach-clean up collected 337 kg of rubbish, generated from land-based activities. The day was led by members from the IMO-supported Association for Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa region (WOMESA), together with industry and local communities. Organized in celebration of the African Day of Seas and Oceans, the clean-up on 27 July also served to highlight the important role of African women in marine conservation for sustainable livelihoods.

IMO has adopted an action plan to address marine litter from ships and is committed to supporting the achievement of targets to prevent and reduce marine pollution of all kinds, including marine debris, set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.

Human carelessness and pollution, such as the dumping of plastic in waterways, has devastating consequences on marine life and this is a particular problem in the marine and coastal areas in Africa  - which are also are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in the world, mainly attributed to the low adaptive capacity in the continent. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.imo.org/EN/MediaCentre/WhatsNew/Pages/default.aspx

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Indian Ocean Ocean governance initiative meets in South Africa

12 Jul 2019 - 7 out of 9 National Focal Points of the SAPPHIRE project are women.

12 Jul 2019 - 7 out of 9 National Focal Points of the SAPPHIRE project are women. Nairobi Convention states, the GEF and UNDP are committed to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment as a core element of improved ocean governance. Read about more progress:

On 25-27 June 2019, Focal Points for the Western Indian Ocean Large Marine Ecosystem Strategic Action Programme Policy Harmonization and Institutional Reforms (SAPPHIRE) project met for the first-ever Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting in Durban, South Africa. The GEF-funded SAPPHIRE project, executed by the Nairobi Convention and implemented by UNDP, is designed to promote ocean governance by supporting necessary policy and legal reforms, investments and capacity building requirements.

As this was the first-ever PSC meeting, members were active in reviewing terms of reference of committees, annual work plans, multiyear budget allocations, project result framework, and project management and coordination structures at national and regional levels. By the end of the two-and-a-half-day session, the PSC had approved the Terms of Reference for itself and the project’s National Intersectoral Coordination Committee (NICC), whose roles will be to coordinate the implementation of project activities at the national level. PSC members also approved the 2019 Annual Work Plan and multi-year project budget. Additionally, PSC members reviewed the project result framework and recommended developing new outcome indicators, giving a mandate to the Nairobi Convention Secretariat to do so.


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Africa Blue Economy Forum 2019

Africa Blue Economy Forum 2019 takes place from 25 to 26 June in Tunisia.

Africa Blue Economy Forum 2019 takes place from 25 to 26 June in Tunisia.

Africa Blue Economy Forum (ABEF) is about bold new thinking to accelerate Africa’s structural transformation and create jobs for a young population on the rise.

It offers an ideal opportunity for businesses and policy makers to understand, explore and invest in the blue economy, harness its potential and create a sustainable business model for the future.

Africa’s maritime industry is estimated at around US$1 trillion per year, covering a large variety of sectors including fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transport, oil and gas, ports and trade, energy, seabed mining and so on.

ABEF’s objective is to explore the unique investment potential of the continent’s growing ocean economy and the synergies between traditional and new emerging industries, whilst promoting the Blue Economy sustainability principles to secure long-term prosperity and inclusive growth across the continent.

Why attend ABEF2019?

  • Insider access to government leaders and ocean and sustainability experts
  • Cutting-edge dialogue assessing today’s pressing issues to achieve SDG 14
  • High-level insights from thoughtful leaders and action-oriented discussions
  • Case studies sharing practical experiences and solutions from the field
  • Presentation of investment opportunities in traditional and emerging ocean industries
  • Introductions facilitating partnerships with African and international experts to achieve sustainable best practices
  • Expanded networking opportunities

TO LEARN MORE AND REGISTER, VISIT: https://abef2019.com/

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East Africa: Marine-Based 'Blue Economies' Offer Massive Potential

23 May 2019 - Developing ocean-based resources in areas such as fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, transport and ports, mining and energy, could generate U.

23 May 2019 - Developing ocean-based resources in areas such as fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, transport and ports, mining and energy, could generate U.S. $20.8 billion a year for the 220 million people of the western Indian Ocean region, according to a recent report. But coastal and marine ecosystems will have to be preserved, and the adverse effects of climate change combatted if this potential is to be realised.

Emma-Jane Fuller and Romy Chevallier of the South African Institute of International Affairs set the scene for an important conference on the region's "blue economy" which begins in Mozambique on Thursday.

Uniting around a global call to see oceans managed more sustainably, more than 500 people are gathering in Maputo this week to attend an international oceans conference hosted by the Government of Mozambique.

Envisaged to become a biennial event, this international dialogue will explore opportunities to expand the " blue economies" of countries in the western Indian Ocean region.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://allafrica.com/stories/201905220803.html

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Africa: How Fishing Subsidies Hurt the Ocean - And Us, Too

8 Apr 2019 - OPINION - Tom Dillon - Ask people what's most important to them and there's a good chance they'll say, "Staying healthy - and keeping my family healthy." But they

8 Apr 2019 - OPINION - Tom Dillon - Ask people what's most important to them and there's a good chance they'll say, "Staying healthy - and keeping my family healthy." But they might not realize that the health, economic well-being, and safety of their families and communities very much depend on the health of our oceans, which cover 70% of the earth and face threats ranging from warming waters and diminishing fish stocks to plastics pollution and dying reefs. Protecting this ecosystem is critical to human health: The ocean filters our air, controls the weather, and provides food for billions of people. Yet, collectively, global leaders have not done nearly enough to ensure the long-term sustainability of the marine environment.

World Health Day, on April 7, is an opportune time to make the health of the oceans a top priority for governments around the world. One achievable first step would be ending the subsidies that enable overfishing and illegal fishing. Today, one-third of all fished stocks are exploited at unsustainable levels and another 60 percent are fished to capacity, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. A significant part of this overfishing is driven by subsidies - most of which go to the owners of large-scale fishing fleets to help pay for fuel, gear, and boat construction.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://allafrica.com/stories/201904040140.html

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No fishing allowed in Ascension Island’s new marine protected area (MPA)

25 Mar 2019 - Ascension Island, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, is getting a new MPA to safeguard green turtles, swordfish, sharks, tuna, marlin, frigatebirds and terns.

25 Mar 2019 - Ascension Island, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, is getting a new MPA twice the size of the United Kingdom (UK).

Full protection of 443,000 square kilometres of ocean around the British overseas territory will safeguard green turtles, swordfish, sharks, tuna and marlin as well as frigatebirds and terns.

UN Environment Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh hailed the move: “I'm delighted to hear that the UK has heeded our call to fully protect the waters around Ascension Island, a jewel in the Atlantic Ocean. Protecting 30 per cent of the world's oceans need not be a dream.” Currently, marine protected areas cover 7.6 per cent of the global ocean.

Pugh visited Ascension Island as a young boy and says he will never forget watching sharks circling his boat, green turtles laying eggs, and the teeming wildlife.

“Ascension Island is a rare survivor of extraordinary abundance in a sea of decline,” he says, thanking the Blue Marine Foundation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Great British Oceans Coalition, non-governmental organizations, scientists, civil servants and politicians for making this happen.

Conservationists have hailed the United Kingdom Government’s support for designating all the remote island’s waters as a marine protected area.

United Kingdom Chancellor Philip Hammond used his spring statement to announce the government’s support to the Ascension Island Council’s call to designate all its waters as a marine protected area, with no fishing allowed.

The move is part of the country’s Blue Belt programme to protect millions of square kilometres of oceans in its overseas territories. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “With a marine estate stretching across the globe, the UK is uniquely positioned to lead the way in protecting the world’s oceans and precious marine life.

“Today’s progress towards fully protecting all of Ascension Island’s waters is an important step forward in expanding our Blue Belt and protecting a third of the world’s ocean by 2030. I hope countries around the world will follow suit.”

Marine protected areas are an important tool in conserving the biodiversity of the world’s oceans.

“Ambitious interventions to protect marine and coastal ecosystems like those of Ascension island are extremely useful,” says UN Environment marine specialist Ole Vestegaard, “not only for the unique underwater biodiversity they host, but also for their valuable contribution to ocean health and function, underpinning food-security and resilience—in essence, a cost-effective nature-based solution to climate change.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/no-fishing-allowed-ascension-islands-new-marine-protected-area

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Protecting Africa’s oceans to secure our futures - Blue Oceans Conference, Liberia

21 Mar 2019 - This week, Conservation International is co-hosting the Blue Oceans Conference to bring attention to ocean conservation issues in Africa, with the Governments of Liberia and Sweden.

21 Mar 2019 - Editor’s note: This week, Conservation International is co-hosting the Blue Oceans Conference in Monrovia with the Governments of Liberia and Sweden to bring attention to ocean conservation issues in Africa, where they have been historically undervalued. Jessica Donovan-Allen, country director of Conservation International Liberia, spoke at the conference. Here is an edited version of her prepared remarks. 

I know personally the value of coastal conservation. I grew up the daughter of a fisherman in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a child of the ocean. My family’s livelihood rose and fell with the tide, but it was — and remains — the action or inaction of businesses, governments and policymakers that most affect the relationship between oceans and the people connected to them through their livelihoods.

That’s why it is our goal at the Blue Oceans Conference — the first major environmental and marine conference in Western Africa — to confront the challenges of marine pollutionclimate change and sustainable fishing.

Conservation International is bringing our global expertise to work in 10 coastal communities to create sustainable livelihoods, fisheries and mangrove conservation. We are working to reverse harmful cycles and find sustainable alternatives.

Because when fisheries are poorly managed, they collapse.

When sea levels rise, coastal businesses disappear.

When coasts erode, houses crumble.

When species disappear, the whole composition of the ocean changes.

And when poor regulation is the enabler, local fishermen like my father are out of a job.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://blog.conservation.org/2019/03/protecting-africas-oceans-to-secure-our-futures/?utm_campaign=General&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&s_src=twitter&s_subsrc=General_2017Mar20

PHOTO: Coast of Liberia. (© Trond Larsen)

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Impacts Kerala wakes up to ghosts of plastics haunting the Arabian Sea

Marine plastic debris has emerged as a problem in the coastal areas of Kerala, endangering fishes, birds and ecosystems, and threatening the livelihood of fishers

On a thin strip of land between the Arabian Sea and a lagoon 30 km north of Thiruvananthapuram, capital of the southern state of Kerala, artisanal fishers are finding a menace — plastic debris from the ocean. “The other day, some colleagues caught two sacksful in their net, and we had to bury it in our sandy seashore,” said Soosa Melkias, a fisherman of Anchuthengu, a coastal village near the state capital.

In this crowded village struggling with its own solid waste, the quick solution that the fishers found was to bury the debris for now, till the shore gets inundated in a high tide next time. “We sometimes find debris in the sea and on our reefs and it affects fish growth and fishing,” Melkias told indiaclimatedialogue.net. Reefs are ridges made of rock, corals or sand just above or below the waterline making up rich fishing grounds.

Closer to the city centre in the capital, while diving in the coastal waters, citizen scientist Robert Panipilla and his colleague Aneesha Ani Benedict, a marine biologist, found a virtual underwater dump yard. Later, with six scuba divers working in three teams off the shore of the tourist village Kovalam, they scooped up 71 kg of debris comprising bottles, caps, food packaging, sanitary products and other discarded items. “The labels suggested they came from nearby places,” said Panipilla, who heads and NGO called the Friends of Marine Life (FML).

FML prepared a set of photographs and a presentation for the Conference on Marine Debris (COMAD 2018) held at Kochi on April 11-12. “We thought we need to share our findings with the larger scientific community,” Panipilla told indiaclimatedialogue.net. COMAD provided a forum to share such local experiences and innovations along with scientific findings, said V. Kripa, principal scientist of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi.

Scientists of the Marine Biological Association of India that hosted COMAD is finding marine debris as an emerging issue of the 21st century, “worse than any other problem faced by aquatic ecosystems”, a concern shared worldwide. Marine debris is anything that is dumped on the shore or the sea and persists. It can be plastic, glass, metal, or paper, though plastic is the most abundant and widely reported debris.

Plastics explosion

Plastics explosion since the 1950s saw production increasing from about two million tonnes to 380 million tonnes a year by 2015, according to a 2017 analysis in Science Advances. We produce more plastics than any other human-made material, except cement and steel. The numbers are nightmarish. So far, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced, half of it in the past 13 years. Only 9% of it has been recycled, 12% incinerated, and the remaining 79% was discarded in landfills or the natural environment.

What happens to the plastic discarded in the environment? As a UN Environment Programme study says, while the global production of plastics stood at 311 million tonnes in 2014, an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastics found their way into our oceans.

Plastic debris persists and travels great distances. Like ghosts in a storybook, they float around or lay buried beneath the surface with uncertain but bad impacts, largely unseen till they make occasional appearances of high drama. A classic case is that of an albatross that was found in 2006 with plastic from an aircraft shot down in 1944. Plastic cargo lost from ships has been found 4,000 km away.

A large share of plastic debris comes from ships and fishing vessels. They include lost cargo, dumped waste and discarded fishing gear that become ghost nets, trapping and killing fish underwater. FML has recently recovered 400 kg of discarded nets from Vizhinjam, a fishing village south of Thiruvananthapuram. Panipilla believe boats that escaped Cyclone Ockhi, which hit the Kerala coast in December last year, would have abandoned their nets and there could be more from sunken boats and earlier incidents — miles and miles of ghost nets.

Another part of the waste comprises sand-like microplastics less than 5 mm in diameter, such as the microbeads in face wash and detergents, as well as fragments from weathering and decomposing plastic goods

Marine organisms can be affected by plastic debris in many ways — by eating, getting entangled, rafting to new places or finding new habitat in the debris itself. A study published by the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) reports impacts of marine debris in 663 species. Over half of these cases involved eating or getting entangled in debris, which shows a 40% increase since 1997, when 247 species were affected.

All known species of sea turtles, half of all species of marine mammals, and a tenth of sea bird species were affected by entanglement or ingestion of marine debris, about 15% of all the species affected being on the IUCN Red List denoting threatened species. Over 80% of the impacts were associated with plastic debris while paper, glass and metal accounted for less than 2%.

“Of particular concern are the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal Monachus schauinslandi, endangered loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta, and vulnerable northern fur seal Callorhinus ursinus and white chinned petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis,” the CBD report noted.

Closer to home, a study in Mangalore has found nylon and plastic rope debris on the beaches, and in the guts of oil sardines and mackerel. Elsewhere seabirds, tuna and dolphins were found with plastics — including bottle caps and bags — in their belly. Kripa says plastics enter the food chain easily. Scientists are concerned that toxic persistent organic pollutants can piggyback on microplastics to enter the food chain, though its impact is still debated.

Tackling marine plastic pollution

As plastic production, use and waste mount, UN agencies are looking at ways control marine plastic pollution. CBD recommends a set of reuse and reduce strategies. The strategies suggested include packaging and plastics reduction, eco-labels to mark the environmental performance of different production, procurement of environment-friendly products, and a preference towards biodegradable products.

Kerala government has banned plastic bags and bottles below the thickness of 50 microns (millionth of a metre). However, a complete ban on plastic carry bags cannot be imposed in the state, as the government recently argued in the state high court as making available biodegradable alternatives to plastic needed time. In villages such as Anchuthengu and elsewhere, thin plastic bags are still the norm in shops and takeaway restaurants.

Locally, fishers of Thiruvananthapuram are looking at their own local solutions. FML advocates better awareness of the marine debris problem. Divers associated with the group regularly scan the seabed for changes and promote a campaign for clean coasts.

In Kollam district north of Thiruvananthapuram, two major fishing harbours at the neighbouring Neendakara and Shanktikulangara villages are showing a way forward for big fishing vessels. The fishers here have started collecting all the plastic that they trawl from the sea bottom and handing them over to a point for safe disposal or recycling.

In Anchuthengu, a former British colonial post with a fort that dates back to 1695, Melkias and his small boat colleagues are pushing for more responsible fishing especially around reefs. One of the local reefs comprises the wreck of a Dutch ship that sank in 1754. Traditionally fishers are not supposed to engage in intense fishing using nets around reefs, respecting the rights of hook and line fishers who find abundant fish here. “Still fishers use the wrong kind of nets in such places, even with lights to attract more fish,” Melkias told indiaclimatedialogue.net. “Their nets get entangled in the reef and they become a menace, killing fish and blocking future fishing.”

Threatening livelihoods

Scientists are calling for better assessment and appreciation of the problem of marine debris, especially in the coastal waters. A. Biju Kumar,  professor at the Aquatic Biology and Fisheries department of Kerala University, noted that huge quantities of plastic waste reach the sea from storm drains, canals and sewage. “It may be not float, and remain invisible escaping people’s attention,” he told indiaclimatedialogue.net. “So it is not readily identified as a problem, whereas it can threaten fishing livelihoods, especially in inshore waters.”

Marine debris has not affected the aesthetics of Kerala’s pristine coasts yet, thought it might wash up one day — as it did in Bali last Christmas — and spoil state’s reputation as God’s Own Country, as the state Tourism Department calls it. Scientists have called for a scientific assessment of the extent of marine debris before the ghosts of plastics makes more scary appearances.