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6.2.1 Healthy Oceans for a sustainable development FINAL BEFORE PLENARY

1 Healthy Oceans for a sustainable development


3 Background

4 Life on Earth began in the oceans and life will always depend on them. They cover two thirds

5 of the planet’s surface and they contain 99% of the living space on the planet. Every second

6 breath we take comes from oxygen produced by the seas.

7 Human activities on the oceans’ life support systems have reached unsustainable levels.

8 Today the oceans face threats of overexploitation, pollution, declining biodiversity, climate

9 change and acidification. These threats affect not only to the oceans themselves but also

10 mankind and the entire planet.

11 Action is needed. This year, 2017, we have a unique opportunity to engage in an

12 international process to improve global governance of the oceans. For the first time in

13 history the UN has dedicated one stand-alone goal to conservation and sustainable use of the

14 oceans, seas and marine resources. It is goal number 14 of the UN 2030 agenda of

15 Sustainable Development Goals.


17 Food security and livelihood

18 3 billion people rely on fish as their main source of protein and millions of people depend on

19 the oceans for livelihood. Small-scale fisheries provide work to 90 % of the people employed

in capture fisheries1 20 . Fish continues to be one of the most-traded food commodities

21 worldwide. More than half of fish exports by value originate from developing countries.

22 Women are essential contributors to the seafood industry, representing over half of the

23 workforce. They are often key actors in processing, local sale and different support roles in

24 fisheries. Their work is essential for the local economy, employment and food security. Yet,

25 these jobs are less recognised and less paid – in some cases even unpaid. An FAO study from

20152 26 shows that women are severely underrepresented in decision-making levels of

27 seafood industries and have very little access to credit and financial resources allowing

28 developing their industry.

29 The state of the world’s marine fish stocks has not improved. More than 31% of fish stocks

30 are fished at biologically unsustainable levels. Continued overfishing is a serious threat to

31 entire marine ecosystems but also to jobs and income.

32 Marine resources are a public good. Yet more and more fishing opportunities are being

33 transformed into private transferable fishing-rights that are bought by industrial fishing

34 companies or non-fish-related businesses. Local coastal communities get squeezed out and

35 many fishermen lose their livelihood.


1 FAO 2016, The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA), Rome

2 FAO Globefish – the role of women in the seafood industry, May 2015


37 Climate change and Blue Sustainable Economy

38 Climate change is a fundamental threat to global food security, sustainable development and

39 poverty eradication. Ocean acidification caused by increasing levels of carbon dioxide has

40 huge negative impacts on many marine organisms. It reduces the ability of shellfish to

41 produce their shells and corals to form skeletons. Many of these organisms are the basis of

42 the whole food chain.

43 The warming of the oceans will create new fish migration patterns, destroying local fishing

44 communities. Extreme and unpredictable weather with heavy storms and rainfall can

45 damage coastal ecosystems. Rising sea levels will cover wetlands and other low-lying

46 habitats where fish reproduce, and destroy mangroves, the nurseries for many commercially

47 important fish species.

48 At the same time humans are affected by climate change. Most vulnerable are people in

49 developing countries. When arable land is decreasing and droughts hit the inlands, many

50 seek new livelihoods as fishermen in coastal areas and increase the pressure on marine

51 resources.

52 A rapidly growing world population and dwindling resources on land has turned many eyes

53 towards the oceans as saviour in the absence of a planet ”B”. Blue economy has become the

54 new concept to meet increasing needs. But oceans only have the potential to fulfil this wish if

55 they are restored and maintained to healthy and productive state. Blue economy must

56 become blue sustainable economy.

57 Oceans have long been treated as a means of free resource extraction and waste dumping.

58 This has caused severe degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems. In 50 years there will

be more plastic than fish in the oceans3 59 . Five huge islands of plastics float in the oceans. The

60 plastic breaks up into tiny pieces and becomes the smog of the Oceans. Among the most

61 wasteful plastics are small plastic beads in cosmetics products, causing death of basic marine

62 organisms and working their way up in the food chain to human consumption.


64 Resolution

65 The world’s oceans are a public trust and as such are our common heritage that we have a

66 responsibility to conserve and hand over to the next generation.

67 Responding to the international process to improve global governance of the oceans, The

68 Global Greens demand:

69 1. that the UN develops a central registry of oceans commitments which would provide a

70 transparent basis for tracking the efforts of States and stakeholders to achieve the SDG

71 14.


3 Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The new plastics economy, 2016

72 2. that an intergovernmental scientific panel on oceans is established by the UN with the

73 task of providing the world with an objective, scientific review of the state of oceans and

74 marine ecosystems;

75 3. that an ecosystem-based and precautionary approach is respected in global fisheries

76 management, so as to rebuild and maintain exploited fish stocks above levels that can

77 produce the maximum sustainable yield by the latest at 2020. Despite the world’s

78 commitment to curb overfishing by 2015, made at the World Summit on Sustainable

79 Development in Johannesburg, more than a third of the world’s fish stocks are still

80 overfished;


82 4. that at least 10% of coastal and marine areas shall be established as Marine Protected

83 Areas by 2020;

84 5. that the moratorium on exploitation of Antarctic resources as enshrined in the Antarctic

85 Treaty is respected and a moratorium on exploitation of oil, gas and fish in previously

86 un-exploited areas of the Arctic is established;

87 6. that the right to exploit marine resources should be allocated according to criteria

88 ensuring that fishing contributes as far as possible to the public interest. Marine

89 resources are a public good, not a private resource. The right to fish should be based on

90 environmental, social and economic criteria. Priority should be given to fishing

91 techniques with reduced environmental impact, less consumption of costly, polluting

92 fuel and fisheries that contribute to jobs in local coastal communities;


94 7. that states respect the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale

95 Fisheries published in 2014. The guidelines aim to improve the equitable development

96 and socio-economic condition of small-scale fishing communities alongside sustainable

97 and responsible management of fisheries in the context of food security and poverty

98 eradication;


100 8. that a better gender balance in seafood industries must be installed. Women in fisheries

101 and processing industry should enjoy fair remuneration and have better access to public

102 support and financial resources;


104 9. that impacts of aquaculture on the environment must be minimised by ensuring

105 sustainable sourcing of feed, avoiding escapes by adopting technical standards and

106 reducing the impact of chemicals and medicine use;


108 10. that all kind of harmful subsidies in fisheries are ended, including fuel subsidies and

109 others which contribute to excess fishing capacity, overfishing and accelerated climate

110 change;


112 11. that states cooperate regionally in fisheries management for a sustainable and equitable

113 exploitation of migratory species, especially regarding scientific stock assessments,

114 monitoring, surveillance and control of fishing activities as required by the UN Fish

115 Stocks Agreement of 1994. Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) with

116 increased powers to efficiently enforce management decisions and sanctions should

117 cover all the world’s oceans and all commercially exploited species;


119 12. that allocation of access to fisheries resources within RFMOs must take into account the

120 environmental and social impact, food security needs and developing countries’

121 aspiration to develop their own fisheries;


123 13. that a unique international system for registering all vessels sailing in international

124 waters is developed and made publically available. Transparency is key to an efficient

125 governance of our oceans;


127 14. that all states become parties to the FAO Compliance Agreement which entered into

128 force in 2003 and the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate

129 Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) that came into force in 2016, while

130 encouraging states to also go further and adopt more stringent measures to curb illegal

131 fishing methods;

132 15. that the Blue Economy is steered towards rebuilding resilience of coastal communities to

133 restore the productive potential of fisheries, in order to support food security, poverty

134 alleviation and sustainable management of living aquatic resources. Blue Economy must

135 contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal number 14 on oceans

136 and marine resources;


138 16. that before any activities of the Blue economy sectors are adopted, an information and

139 consultation process according to the rules of the Aarhus convention shall take place;

140 17. that the precautionary and polluter pays principles shall apply to Blue Economy sectors;


142 18. that a zero-waste circular economy based on renewable resources is adopted, in order to

143 avoid reliance on deep-sea mining and to prevent marine litter;


145 19. that global measures are taken to halt the escalating problem of micro plastics in the

146 oceans, such as a global mapping of sources to micro plastics and immediate global bans

147 for use of micro plastics in already known sources, such as micro plastics in cosmetic

148 rinse off products


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