Saturday, July 22, 2017 | 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

People affected by flood and river erosion need immediate help

RIVER erosion in many parts of the country is making countless people homeless across the country as floodwater started receding. Media reports said monsoon rains caused havoc to flood

Disturbing Human Rights situation

ACCORDING to several past reports published by Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and Swedish Media, there has been a rise in incidences of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings in

Extreme weather wiping out hard-won GDP gains

Kenton X. Chance :With Antigua and Barbuda joining St. Kitts and Nevis as the two eastern Caribbean nations to attain middle-income country status, a senior diplomat has identified climate

Dysfunctional BFF

Bangladesh U-23 National team lost to Jordan by 0-7 goals in the qualifying round of the AFC Under-23  Championship in Palestine on Wednesday. Before that,  Bangladesh team lost to

Sleeping hockey federation

In the eighties, hockey was the 2nd most popular discipline  in this country. The sleeping hockey federation drafts a long chart of league and tournaments in the beginning of

Digitizing family planning to achieve the goals

Stella Paul :Online shopping may have its pros and cons, but when it comes to buying products that have an invisible morality tag, it's the safest possible option, believes

Rice from govt. godowns entering black market

LAW enforcers have seized a total of around 3,039 tons of rice packed in bags with writing of Directorate General of Food loaded in 12 trucks in the Port

Havoc from waterlogging, traffic jam in city life

EXPERTS at a seminar on 'Development Options for Dhaka towards 2035' on last Wednesday voiced grave concern over the worsening traffic jam in Dhaka city streets at a time

High growth rates always not good for countries

Barry Eichengreen :China's focus on economic targets reflects the same mistakes that led to Asian crisis 20 years agoThis month marks the 20th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis -

Putin gets what he wants from Trump

Masha Gessen :While American news media offered differing interpretations of the meeting between US President Trump and President Vladimir V Putin of Russia, debating whether Trump had shown resolve or