Note: A complete summary of today’s Ocean Conference meeting will be available after its conclusion.
Partnership Dialogue I
In the morning, the Ocean Conference held a partnership dialogue on the topic “making fisheries sustainable”. Moderated by Anthony Long, Director, Ending Illegal Fishing Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and co-chaired by Dominic LeBlanc, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard of Canada, and Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, it featured a panel discussion by Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Director of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture, Monterey Bay Aquarium, United States; Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); and Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Secretariat.
Mr. LEBLANC said Canada was a proud maritime nation, with fisheries and aquaculture contributing $9 billion to its economy each year, generating countless jobs in rural, coastal and indigenous communities. The fisheries sector provided the backbone for many national and small-scale economies. Noting that sustainable fisheries were key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said “we need to make a more concerted effort to tackle such things as illegal fishing, underreporting and harmful subsidies that result in over-capacity.” With international action as the common goal, the WTO provided the venue and means to achieve enforceable fisheries subsidies rules. Fisheries management played an important role in conservation and had led to positive biodiversity outcomes, with a range of measures that protected to single stocks and the ecosystems upon which they relied. Those conservation objectives must be incorporated into fisheries management plans. Marine protected areas were an essential component of sustainable fisheries management. Canada had adopted a milestone to conserve 5 per cent of its waters by the end of 2017, as a sign of its commitment to conserving 10 per cent by 2020. Describing Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change as “unwavering”, he also underscored the importance of its partnerships with provincial and territorial governments, indigenous peoples, environmental groups and industry in advancing the marine conservation agenda.
Mr. GUÈYE said Senegal was a country of fisheries, with 6,000 actors working in that sector and 75 per cent of people’s animal protein needs coming from fish and marine life. “Senegal is very interested in sustainable fisheries,” he said, pointing to a law that reserved space for artisanal fisheries, within which large industrial fisheries were prohibited. In the south, all vessels were banned from approaching the coast. Senegal also had revised its fisheries code, which now allowed for trout to be fished at 40 centimetres, rather than 20 centimetres, with the greater depths allowing more time for the fish to multiply. Underscoring the need to combat large-scale fishing, he said another aspect was to combat illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, which should be addressed in the most appropriate manner by a global coalition. Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million, and seizing repeat offenders. The Government also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas, acceded to a forum that ensured transparency in the fisheries industry, and ratified the FAO Port State Measures Agreement. “We have high hopes for this meeting,” he said, and for strong measures to be taken.
Mr. MATHIESEN said fisheries today faced many different problems. Three, however, stood out, and if they were tackled and solved, other problems would be easier to resolve. Those three problems included illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; the difficulty of managing migrating fish stocks on the high seas and in sovereign coastal waters; and improving the status of coastal fishing communities in developing countries, including small island developing States. Several factors drove those problems, including an estimated $35 billion in harmful subsidies, population growth, poverty, economic and forced migration, climate change and unprecedented levels of climate events. Solutions would include improved science-based local, national and regional fisheries management, while illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing could be addressed through existing instruments. Strong regional management models were in place, but they required political, scientific and financial support. Harmful subsidies could be stopped through the WTO. A multi-stakeholder and targeted approach to support coastal communities and get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that the FAO was prepared to help develop a blueprint to rebuild fisheries.
Ms. KEMMERLY said that, about 20 years ago, non-governmental organizations launched a movement that sought to create market demand for sustainable seafood which involved, among other things, encouraging businesses to use their market leverage to improve policy, traceability and social responsibility. For the non-governmental organization community, sustainability was not just an environmental matter, but also a question of social responsibility. While mainly focused so far in the United States and the European Union, the sustainable seafood movement was growing in other places, such as Brazil, Japan and South-East Asia. She went on to describe efforts being made with regard to tuna, with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation engaged in reporting, conservation and traceability measures, and with shrimp, a sector that would require making sustainability profitable for hundreds of thousands of smallholders in South-East Asia.