Saturday, March 24, 2018 | ePaper

How politicians help ocean destruction

  • Print
Baher Kamal :
(From previous issue)
More than three billion people rely on fish for critical animal protein, while 300 million people depend on marine fisheries, the vast majority being linked to small-scale fisheries that are the backbone of marine and coastal social and ecosystems in many developing countries, he on June 8 added.
"Unsustainability poses many risks and a heavy price," said Graziano da Silva. "Today many fisheries around the world are characterised by excessive fishing effort, low productivity and inadequate profitability."
That exacerbates pressures that have led to almost a third of all marine fish stocks being exploited at biologically unsustainable levels, a threefold increase in 40 years, he said. Annual fishery production would increase by around 20 per cent -worth an extra 32 billion dollars each year- if partners collaborate to rebuild overfished stocks, he added.
FAO is playing a leading role in pursuing a core target of Sustainable Development Goal 14, which calls for ending the scourge of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing by 2020. The IUU fishing accounts for up to 26 million tonnes of fish a year, one-sixth of all the fish caught at sea and worth 23 billion dollars. It also directly undermines efforts to make sure marine resources are sustainably used.
International efforts to crack down on IUU fishing made a major step forward in 2016, when the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) entered into legal force. The international treaty brokered by FAO now has nearly 50 parties, including the European Union, Indonesia, the United States of America and - soon - Japan as well as many Small Island Developing States. The PSMA gives new powers to port officials to verify that any visiting ship is abiding by all relevant fishing rules - including having the proper permits, respecting quotas and avoiding at-risk species.
The treaty also requires parties to support effective implementation by making sure all parties have the technical capacity to fulfil their obligations. FAO has already devoted more than 1.5 million dollars to this effort, which Graziano da Silva described as "seed money" while awaiting voluntary contributions from donors.
"IUU fishing activities are a threat to marine life and impede the development and prosperity of vulnerable countries and must be completely stopped," for his part said Sven Erik Bucht, the Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, who announced officially Sweden's contribution of 5.4 million dollars to FAO to combat IUU fishing. Alongside with Fiji, Sweden has promoted and co-chaired the Oceans Conference.
The funding will also help support this UN specialised body's on-going work on what to do about discarded fishing gear -which constitutes both ocean rubbish as well as killing fish- and on the Global Record on Fishing Vessels, a platform aimed at providing essential and transparent information to those in charge of fisheries management.
The UN specialised agency is also leading work on Catch Documentation Schemes that enables fish to be tracked from source to shop - something consumers increasingly want. And, through its Blue Growth Initiative, the agency is also strongly focused on promoting sustainable development among coastal fishing communities in general.
Overfishing occurs when more fish are caught than the population can replace through natural reproduction, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) , one of the world's leading conservation organisation. "Gathering as many fish as possible may seem like a profitable practice, but overfishing has serious consequences. The results not only affect the balance of life in the oceans, but also the social and economic well-being of the coastal communities who depend on fish for their way of life."
Billions of people rely on fish for protein, and fishing is the principal livelihood for millions of people around the world, WWF adds. "For centuries, our seas and oceans have been considered a limitless bounty of food. However, increasing fishing efforts over the last 50 years as well as unsustainable fishing practices are pushing many fish stocks to the point of collapse.
According to WWF, more than 85 per cent of the world's fisheries have been pushed to or beyond their biological limits and are in need of strict management plans to restore them."
Meanwhile, UN concerned agencies -FAO; UNCTAD and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)- have announced their commitment to cutting harmful fishing subsidies. The issue is "complicated and thorny," they said. The commitment likely involves requesting countries to provide information on what subsidies they provide and prohibiting those that contribute to overfishing, as well as potentially giving differential treatment to developing countries.
(Baher Kamal is Senior Advisor to IPS Director General on Africa & the Middle East. He is an Egyptian-born, Spanish-national, secular journalist, with over 43 years of experience).

More News For this Category

Before recapitalisation of Farmers Bank the looters must be punished

MEDIA reports on Friday said depositors in Farmers Bank have filed complaints with the Bangladesh Bank for failing to repay their deposits on maturity to the tune of around

Protection to wildlife

ACCORDING to media reports, the government lack of initiative and even enough interest to conserve existing forestland is causing rapid loss of forestland in the country making wildlife vulnerable

Readers’ Forum

To the Mayors of City Corporations :Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Mohammad Sayed Khokonon on March 19 warned the homeowners of the city about eliminating Aedes mosquitoes' germs. He

A pledge for parity

Ann-Kathrin Pohlers  :With March marking Women's History Month, the debate over gender-based discrimination couldn't have reached its new peak at a more critical time.Speaking on International Women's Day, UN

Time to end the pesticide merry-go-round

Dave Goulson :Humans need bees. Nearly a third of our food supply would disappear without the work of domestic honeybees, wild bees and other pollinators. The vital importance of

Ending TB epidemic among youth

David Bryden :A good education for every child is an urgent global imperative, but what if entering schools puts children at serious health risks? Tuberculosis (TB), the single biggest

Donald Trump can't be a friend of Muslims, Muslim countries must learn to act together

US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have discussed military deals, investment in the US, and security cooperation, during the prince's first visit to the

Right conditions are to be created to sustain graduation process

ECONOMISTS have asked for easing the cost of doing business and implement massive regulatory reforms to create a business friendly environment in the country to sustain the graduation process

Time to resolve the water problem

Vladimir Smakhtin : "You cannot manage what you do not measure" is a long-familiar saying to many, nowhere more so than in professional water circles at almost every level.Just as you

Homeless people caught in conflicts

Alice Debarre :Devastating violence and conflicts in many regions have resulted in millions of people fleeing violence, whether in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, or Syria. States have