Events on Last Day of Conference Address Marine Litter, Arctic Resilience, SeaBOS Initiative
Photo by IISD/Francis Dejon
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On the final day of the UN Ocean Conference, side events addressed: marine plastic litter in SIDS; Arctic ocean resilience; the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship Initiative; and governance to accelerate SDG implementation.

The Secretariat of the CBD and the Fisheries Agency of Japan co-organized an event on ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Fisheries for Human Well-Being'.

9 June 2017: On the final day of the UN Ocean Conference, side events addressed, inter alia: marine plastic litter in small island developing States (SIDS); Arctic ocean resilience; the Seafood Business for Ocean (SeaBOS) Stewardship Initiative; and governance to accelerate SDG implementation. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Fisheries Agency of Japan co-organized an event on ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Fisheries for Human Well-Being.’

At the event on ‘Solutions to Land-based and Sea-based Marine Litter combined with Marine Plastic Litters in SIDS,’ participants shared experiences addressing marine litter, and supported upstream solutions that focus on keeping plastic from entering the oceans. European Parliament Member Marco Affronte shared recent European Union (EU) initiatives addressing marine litter, including an European Commission (EC) communication on ocean governance with an action point on marine litter, a package of four proposed EU directives on the circular economy and a forthcoming EC proposal for an EU plastics strategy. Marcus Eriksen, 5 Gyres Institute Co-Founder, said microplastics are a bigger problem than trash gyres on the ocean surface, as they create a “plastic smog” that circulates with currents and carries microplastic clouds from one continent to another. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) highlighted its regional strategy, ‘Cleaner Pacific 2025,’ which features integrated waste management. João Sousa, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), stressed the importance of research, noting that an IUCN global assessment of plastics in ocean found that clothing and tires are bigger culprits than the commonly targeted cosmetics industry. Participants further highlighted: efforts to promote dialogue between producers and waste managers; and a report on ‘Marine Plastic Litter on SIDS: Impacts and Measures.’

The event on ‘Arctic Ocean Resilience: Can Tipping Points Still be Avoided?’ focused on the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, including record low sea ice levels, warmer ocean temperature and ocean acidification. Thomas Armstrong, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, presented findings showing that current levels of ocean acidification are unmatched in the last 25 million years, emphasizing resulting impacts such as the migration of fish stocks and degradation of shells. WWF Finland Secretary-General Liisa Rohweder suggested measuring progress on implementing Arctic Council commitments through a scorecard. Participants called for, inter alia: greater attention on the location of marine protected areas (MPAs); and integration of scientific and indigenous knowledge.

An event titled ‘Engaging the Private Sector in SDG 14: The Seafood Business for Ocean (SeaBOS) Stewardship Initiative’ discussed efforts by companies participating in SeaBOS, a science-based sustainability initiative involving nine of the world’s largest seafood companies. Several participants stressed the importance of strong partnerships between national governments and the seafood industry as critical to achieving sustainability. Henrik Österblom, Stockholm Resilience Centre, explained that 13 companies account for up to 16% of global catches and harvest up to 40% of the most valuable stocks. Nutreco CEO Knut Nesse, SeaBOS Chairman, stressed the role of seafood in food production and in rural development, while noting challenges related to depleted fish stocks and antibiotics overuse in aquaculture. He described SeaBOS taskforces on: eliminating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries; traceability; regulation; and strategy and governance. Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s Minister for International Development and Climate, highlighted the strong link between SDGs 14 and 12 (responsible consumption and production), and stressed the importance of the consumer’s perspective. Participants further emphasized: opportunities for SeaBOS to stimulate global seafood industry collaboration for achieving SDG 14; challenges related to traceability and transparency; and the role of NGOs in raising awareness among consumers.

The event titled ‘Polycentric Ocean and Coastal Governance to Accelerate the Implementation of SDGs’ focused on incorporating local ocean management actions into national and regional management frameworks and developing and implementing local actions in alignment with regional and national priorities. Participants shared tools and initiatives that aim to help local communities participate in environmental and ocean governance and support local implementation, such as a partnership between a local community in Indonesia and the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) that promoted community management of local coral reefs, mangroves, fishing zones and tropical forests. Yoko Watanabe, SGP, said these examples show how SGP can play a catalytic role in engaging communities to help achieve larger goals in protecting oceans, and suggested the experience can be replicated and used in other areas, such as landscape management.

At an event on mainstreaming biodiversity in fisheries, Jihyun Lee, CBD Secretariat, highlighted the CBD’s Sustainable Ocean Initiative’s (SOI) Global Dialogues with Regional Seas Organizations (RSOs) and Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs) on Accelerating Progress Towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the SDGs. She said this effort facilitates dialogue among RSOs and RFBs to identify opportunities to enhance cross-sectoral collaboration, with a view to supporting their member countries in achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the SDGs. Johán Williams, Norway’s Ministry of Trade, stressed that eradicating extreme poverty and ending hunger are essential to saving the environment, including through implementing and achieving SDGs 1 (no poverty) and 2 (zero hunger). Participants further highlighted: links between the SDG 14 targets and the Aichi Targets; the ecosystem approach to fisheries; collaboration among the CBD, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and others on policy instruments and operational guidance for fishers; synergies between conservation of marine biodiversity and utilization of fisheries resources, especially through co-management; and consideration of land tenure, gender, migration, and other issues in marine conservation.

The UN Ocean Conference convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 5-9 June 2017. [ENB on the Side (ENBOTS) Coverage] [ENBOTS Coverage of CBD Special Events] [SeaBOS Initiative Webpage]

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