Ocean Action Hub

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Mauritius oil spill puts spotlight on ship pollution

28 August 2020 - Small island nations face an existential and developmental threat from ship-source pollution endangering their vulnerable marine ecosystems and ocean economies.

28 August 2020 - Small island nations face an existential and developmental threat from ship-source pollution endangering their vulnerable marine ecosystems and ocean economies. An effective international legal regime can help.

Often close to world shipping lanes, small island and coastal nations are at particular risk from oil spills.

Reliant on the marine environment and its biodiversity for tourism, fishing and aquaculture, islanders face an existential threat when oil spills happen in their waters.

This is why the environmental crisis unfolding in Mauritius is of grave concern.

It also brings into focus the international legal framework in place to provide support when ship-source environmental disasters strike, a new UNCTAD article says.

The seas and their use are governed by several international conventions. But some are not ratified by all countries that might benefit, and others are yet to enter into force.

This creates murky waters when oil spills happen, as not all parties have the same liability and compensation recourse, depending on which kinds of ships are responsible for the pollution and whether they have signed up to existing conventions.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2453

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Belize seeks to diversify, add value to seafood exports

16 Dec 2019 - UNCTAD helps craft a strategy to reduce the country's reliance on basic fishery commodities and move up the value chain.

16 Dec 2019 - UNCTAD helps craft a strategy to reduce the country's reliance on basic fishery commodities and move up the value chain. Belize has exported seafood commodities such as spiny lobster and conch for decades. In 2018, it racked up US$18.6 million in fishery exports.

Now the country is casting its net wider as it embarks on sustainable export expansion, diversification and value addition, with an emphasis on the oceans or blue economy.

In doing so, Belize is developing an oceans economy and trade strategy under the oceans economy and trade strategies project implemented by UNCTAD and United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), in cooperation with the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The project aims to support developing countries to reap economic benefits from the sustainable use of their marine resources.

“There are trade opportunities in diversifying seafood species and exports, in increasing value addition, especially through services and technology, and in expanding domestic, tourism and international markets,” said David Vivas Eugui, an UNCTAD legal officer working on the project. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2265

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Costa Rica on course for a vibrant and inclusive blue economy

11 Nov 2019 - Costa Rica seeks to optimize the potential of a sustainable wild capture fisheries sector.

11 Nov 2019 - Costa Rica’s ambitious blue economic development journey is firmly on course, driven by its recently drafted first-ever oceans economy and trade strategy that seeks to harness two fisheries – big pelagics and coastal fish.

UNCTAD and the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) brought together more than 50 government representatives, key fisheries actors and other development partners to discuss and validate the strategy during a workshop held 30 and 31 October in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

The strategy was formulated under the Oceans Economy and Trade Strategies (OETS) project implemented in Costa Rica by UNCTAD and DOALOS in cooperation with UNDP.

The project aims to support developing countries in realizing economic benefits from the sustainable use of marine resources.

“There is immense potential to use resources more sustainably, scale up value addition and enhance social inclusion in these two fisheries,” UNCTAD’s legal officer David Vivas Eugui said.

“In the past five years, Costa Rica’s trade balance surplus for coastal fish has ranged between US$10 and $25 million, which could be increased,” he added.

Making waves

Relatively well integrated into global value chains, Costa Rica is making waves by leapfrogging into activities with strong sustainability and technology content.

It has gained significant traction through its booming coastal and biodiversity-based tourism sector. It has also earned an international reputation for its unique marine natural assets and developed an ambitious, specificity-driven country brand.

Within the oceans economy’s emerging vibrant sectors, fisheries and aquaculture are becoming a key component of the country’s development policy, with strong links to tourism and employment creation.

They represent an important source of food security, social inclusion and wealth generation in many coastal communities.

The fisheries and aquaculture sectors accounted for 1.53% of the country’s national gross domestic product over the 2010-2015 period, generating more than 8,000 direct jobs.

UNCTAD’s research shows that the potential of big pelagics and coastal fish remains only partially exploited, with multiple opportunities to further develop value chains.

Huge potential in sustainable fishing

“Facilitating sustainable fishing will allow the sector to compete in international markets and develop coastal regions. This is one of the country’s highest public priorities,” said Víctor Umaña, general coordinator in the country’s Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX).

Under the OETS project, Costa Rica is seeking to identify new ways to capitalize on the booming international demand for fisheries’ products, such as those of tuna, mahi mahi, sword fish, croakers and red snappers.

It’s also seeking to increase domestic productive capacity, while building more resilient links with export markets in a climate-friendly manner. 

“We believe access to international markets brings greater benefits when carried out sustainably,” said Daniel Carrasco, president of the Costa Rican Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA).

Research by UNCTAD and DOALOS found that big pelagics and coastal fish accounted for roughly 30% of domestic landings between 2011 and 2015.

By comparison, species such as swordfish and croaker sold at high market prices, resulting in higher profits for actors involved in the value chain.

CONTINUE READING: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2224

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No exit plan for small islands on climate crisis frontlines

13 Sept 2019 - Small island nations are calling for global help to cope with the climate crisis unfolding in their backyard, as their ability to respond is curtailed by lack of finance.

13 Sept 2019 - Small island nations are calling for global help to cope with the climate crisis unfolding in their backyard, as their ability to respond is curtailed by lack of finance.

Small island developing states (SIDS) need urgent help. After a visit to Abaco and Grand Bahama in the Caribbean last week, Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, returned to deliver a keynote address at the United Nations’ European headquarters in Geneva to open the first United Nations Trade Forum on 9 September.

His message: “Our extinction is imminent.”

“The climate crisis has taken away from us the ability to control our own destiny,” Mr. Chastanet told a gathering of the trade and international community.

“There are not many more storms that we can sustain and remain viable. Therefore, the urgency is now for us to be able to build resilience.”

He emphasized that the world needs to decide whether they want SIDS to exist and to offer an investment to match it.

“What am I speaking about is drains, rivers, and bridges. These are civil engineering matters; it is not going to the moon. This (investment) is not, in relative terms, a huge amount of money, but relative to the size of our economies, for us it is a mountain too far. I speak to you as a human to say the SIDS need your help.”

“Climate change is not our responsibility. The SIDS represent less than 1% of global emissions. We can’t control our destiny through mitigation. The fact is, the only thing available to us is adaptation,” Mr. Chastanet said.

Adaptation costs money. Under the Paris Agreement on climate, countries have committed to jointly mobilizing US$100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries, including SIDS.

But this funding has not yet reached the SIDS, said Mr. Chastanet.

To mobilize the required billions to help SIDS survive the climate emergency, Mr. Chastanet called for both a revisioning of the classification of SIDS using a vulnerability index and a type of Marshall Plan.

He was joined by fellow island representatives from the Maldives and Jamaica, and the climate and trade community on the opening day of a weeklong forum.

Forum participants explored the linkages between trade, climate change, oceans economy and biodiversity. They exchanged innovative ideas and approaches on how global trade policies may support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

CONTINUE READING: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2186

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UNCTAD, FAO and UN Environment launch inter-agency plan to protect the ocean

26 Jun 2019 - Three UN agencies seek $8.2 million to help countries harness sustainable use and trade in seafood and other ocean-based sectors.

26 Jun 2019 - Three UN agencies seek $8.2 million to help countries harness sustainable use and trade in seafood and other ocean-based sectors.

UNCTAD, UN Environment and the Food and Agriculture Organization have crafted a joint action plan to help save our oceans and seas.

The three agencies are appealing for US$8.24 million to help countries achieve the trade-related targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which seeks to advance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans.

The five-year plan is based on a roadmap agreed to by member states and the three organizations at the United Nations Ocean Conference in 2017.

“We have a window of opportunity to accelerate actions to meet the trade-related targets of SDG 14,” said UNCTAD’s director of international trade and commodities, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, while presenting the plan to member states in Geneva on 13 June.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2130

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UNCTAD, Mauritius open fisheries regional centre of excellence

9 May 2019 - Centre will bring together experts, researchers and policymakers from least developed countries and other African and Asian countries to develop their fisheries sectors.

9 May 2019 - Centre will bring together experts, researchers and policymakers from least developed countries and other African and Asian countries to develop their fisheries sectors.

UNCTAD and Mauritius signed a memorandum of understanding on 6 May in the western Mauritian town of Quatre Bornes to open a new centre of excellence for the fisheries sector in developing countries. 

The centre will serve as a practical site for putting policy recommendations for least developed countries (LDCs) into action.

“This includes providing support to training activities and building institutional, as well as regulatory capacities of developing countries,” said Paul Akiwumi, director of UNCTAD’s division for Africa and least developed countries.

The centre will host training and capacity-building events for African and Asian countries, with an eye towards harnessing the potential of their fisheries and aquaculture sectors for sustainable growth, transformation and poverty alleviation.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2072

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Learning to scale fisheries for better livelihoods from Viet Nam

23 Jan 2019 - Least developed countries are finding out from Viet Nam how fisheries sector opportunities can transform their economies.

23 Jan 2019 - Least developed countries are finding out from Viet Nam how fisheries sector opportunities can transform their economies.

“If only we could have this in our country,” says Manding Saidykhan from the Gambia in West Africa, referring to an industrial shrimp farm he visited in Viet Nam to see new aquaculture technology and fisheries management techniques.

“Our country needs this type of aquaculture, so we can have food security and reduce pressure on the seas.”

Perceptions of the potential of the fisheries sector to support some of the world’s poorest nations – the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – are changing.

Mr. Saidykhan was among more than 50 participants of an UNCTAD-led workshop at the Regional Centre of Excellence at Nha Trang University from states as diverse as Cambodia, Comoros, Mozambique, Myanmar and Uganda.

Another participant, Paul Omani, who is the regulatory head of inspection services at Uganda’s agriculture ministry, says Viet Nam’s success as a leading exporter of high-value fish products is an inspiration to LDCs.

“We have learned about the high production systems from Viet Nam and their export-orientated focus on high-value fish species,” he says.

“We saw their production systems, highly intensive, for shrimp. This is one of the main fish species being exported to the market. It is making a very big contribution to Viet Nam’s economic development.”

Indeed, the shrimp business is one of the biggest industries in Viet Nam.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1983

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"90% of fish stocks are used up – fisheries subsidies must stop" - UNCTAD's Mukhisa Kituyi and Amb. Peter Thomson

7 Aug 2018 - UNCTAD - The subsidies that do harm to fisheries, and which have underpinned the dramatic decrease of fish stocks in the last 40 years, must be withdrawn by 2020.

7 Aug 2018 - UNCTAD - Mukhisa Kituyi and Peter Thomson - The name of our planet is misleading. We call it Earth. Yet, over 70% of its surface is covered by the ocean. Sometimes we forget how essential the ocean is for the water we drink, the air we breathe, for human activity and for life.

Year after year, we have been pushing the boundaries of the ocean’s sustainability, and in so doing we have been challenging our own.

The list of ocean’s troubles is long, but there is one item that demands immediate attention: harmful fisheries subsidies.

It is sobering to consider that nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or depleted, and there is no doubt that fisheries subsidies play a big role. Without them, we could slow the overexploitation of fish stocks, deal with the overcapacity of fishing fleets, and tackle the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

This is important because fish accounts for 17% of all animal protein consumed in the world; at 26%, this share is even higher in the poorest and least developed countries. The ocean is also an important source of income. Nearly 60 million people work in fisheries and aquaculture, and it is estimated that 200 million jobs are directly or indirectly connected with the fisheries sector.

Fish also remains one of the most traded food commodities worldwide, and 54% of this trade comes from developing countries. For these countries, the fish trade generates more income than most other food commodities combined.

For all these reasons, the sustainability of fisheries is therefore essential for the livelihoods of billions of people in coastal communities around the world, especially in developing countries, where 97% of fishermen live.

But if we stay on our current course, we will push one of the planet’s prime food sources to the limit and compromise our ambitions for a better world by 2030.

The subsidies that do harm to fisheries, and which have underpinned the dramatic decrease of fish stocks in the last 40 years, must be withdrawn by 2020. Only that way can we begin to achieve the targets that the international community signed up for when it endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals.

Where we stand now, the cost is great: harmful fisheries subsidies are estimated to total more than $20 billion a year. Not only do they fuel overexploitation, they disproportionately benefit big business. Nearly 85% of fisheries subsidies benefit large fleets, but small-scale fisheries employ 90% of all fishers and account for 30% of the catch in marine fisheries. The value of these subsidies could be used instead to invest in sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and coastal community livelihoods to reduce the pressure on fish stocks.

Fisheries subsidies come in many forms, and sometimes they are not easy to identify, but one of the main sources is fuel subsidies. Thanks to subsidies, the retail price of marine gas oil varies wildly across countries and regions, with many countries selling below the global average price.

Sustainable Development Goal 14 – which concerns the ocean – contains a target that calls on World Trade Organization members, “to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies” by 2020.

Global leaders adopted this goal by consensus in 2015, but for too long now, potential solutions have been postponed. Harmful fisheries subsidies have been on the table for nearly two decades, since the WTO Doha Round was launched in 2001; and in 2017, at the WTO 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, it was again agreed “to continue to engage constructively”.

But no agreement was reached. The new WTO target is to do so in 2019. WTO members have since redoubled efforts and have been negotiating throughout 2018.

CONTINUE READING: http://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1812

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2nd Oceans Forum on Trade-related Aspects of SDG 14
19 Jul 2018 - Aimed to take stock, exchange experiences and present options for the implementation of trade-related targets of SDG 14 (Targets 4, 6, 7 and b).

16-17 July, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

Read UNCTAD's update from the meeting: http://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1819

Background

Fish and seafood is one of the most traded food commodities in the world. Some 38 per cent of world production enters international trade, of which more than half originates in developing countries. Global exports reached 153 US$ billion in 2017, slightly up compared to 2016. The net trade income for developing countries (export – import), valued at US$ 36 billion in 2016, is greater than all other agricultural commodities combined. Around 58 million people are directly employed in fisheries and aquaculture, with some 200 million direct and indirect employment opportunities occurring along the value chain from harvesting to distribution. Hence the livelihoods of some 660 to 880 million people depend on the sector. However, the basis of this prosperity is fragile, as wild stocks are under increasing pressure, and improvements are necessary to more effectively harness the power of trade within value chains and their related services.

In 2016, global capture fishery production consisted of 81.5 million tonnes from marine waters and 10.3 million tonnes from inland waters. Since the early 2000s, despite a relatively steady total capture, the state of the world’s marine fish stocks has not improved, although notable progress has been observed in some areas or species. The share of fish stocks below biologically sustainable levels (overfished) increased from 10 per cent in 1974 to 31.4 per cent in 2013. The fully fished stocks represented 58.1% in 2013 and require effective management regimes to ensure they don’t become overfished. Given this trend, the role of aquaculture in meeting current and future demand will be significant, as estimates indicate that by 2030 around two third of the total seafood output will be farmed.

Global value chains (GVCs) in the fishing and seafood sector (including other marine species such as crustaceans, mollusks and seaweed) tend to be vertically integrated, as in the case of food and agricultural commodities. However, the associated activities of trade within GVCs are diverse, including fishing harbours, landing sites, refrigeration and processing facilities, maritime and logistical services, insurance, financial services, maintenance and repair of fishing vessels, and related hotel and restauration services. Although such activities provide significant employment and economic benefits to both countries at large and local coastal communities, they are not always effectively harnessed to enhance value addition. Opportunities exist to extend current value chains in capture fisheries and aquaculture, both upstream (e.g. vessel support services or support services to farms) and downstream (e.g. processing output into higher-value products).

A systems-wide approach is required, which situates fish and seafood value chains within the context of a broader oceans/blue economy, in recognition of the linkages between sectors. Participating in multiple value chains which service different sectors can enhance the diversification of inputs (e.g. seaweed) and outputs (e.g. nutraceuticals). Coastal and insular developing countries need to ensure that interlinkages between the seafood sector and other key sectors such as transport, logistics and tourism services are a key priority in their oceans/blue economy strategies to increase value addition, as has already been demonstrated for Mauritius, Seychelles and Cape Verde. UNCTAD, FAO, UN Environment, UNECE, Commonwealth, the ACP Group and the IOI are ready to support other countries to develop their own oceans economy and trade strategies to improve value addition, market access, diversification and environmental and social sustainability.

In line with the values already ascribed to within the Commonwealth Charter, the Commonwealth Blue Charter for sustainable ocean development establishes guiding principles for its members in relation to sustainable oceans economy development. The advancement of a regenerative development process - as opposed to regressive trajectories and vicious growth cycles – which encompasses the oceans economy is, solution-orientated.

Objectives

The Oceans Forum is a unique global platform to take stock, exchange experiences and present options for the implementation of trade-related targets of SDG 14 (Targets 4, 6, 7 and b) through the involvement of leading United Nations Agencies, regional bodies, government institutions and civil society organizations. The second Forum will seek to identify challenges and opportunities that sustainability and further integration of the seafood value chain and related services may present within the framework of the oceans/blue economy. The Forum will provide state of the art analysis, share country experiences and identify public and private best practices towards generating policy recommendations and proposing specific actions to meet the trade-related targets of SDG 14, building upon existing United Nations Conference outcomes, FAO, UNEP and UNECE agreements and instruments, soft law and other trade-related instruments.

Co-organized with: FAO, UN Environment, UNECE, the Commonwealth, ACP Group and IOI
Language(s): English
Contact:

UNCTAD
Mr. David Vivas Eugui David.VivasEugui@unctad.org
Graham Mott Graham.Mott@unctad.org

FAO
Mr. Marcio CastroDeSouza, Marcio Marcio.CastroDeSouza@fao.org 

UNEP
Ms. Anja von Moltke anja.moltke@un.org

Commonwealth Secretariat
Ms. Jodie Keane j.keane@commonwealth.int 

ACP
Mr. Peter Wekesa wekesa@acp.int

IOI
Ms. Awni Behnam awnialex@behnam.ch

UNECE

Ms. Maria-Teresa Pisani  Maria-Teresa.Pisani@unece.org

WTO

Ms. Clarisse Morgan jesse.kreier@wto.org
World Trade Organization
+41 22 739 5508

Related Sites:

http://unctad.org/en/pages/MeetingDetails.aspx?meetingid=1831


Oceans Economy and Fisheries
http://unctad.org/en/Pages/DITC/Trade-and-Environment/Oceans-Economy.aspx 

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Register: UNCTAD Briefing on the fisheries regulatory framework at the multilateral level

Briefing on the main obligations and functioning of the multilateral legal framework applicable to fisheries and The Ocean Conference process. Register by 16 March >

On 20-22 March 2017, The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will be organizing in cooperation with other partners two multi-stakeholder events in Geneva with the purpose of fostering debate and developing specific policy options and novel ideas to feed into the processes of two upcoming inter-governmental Conferences: The Ocean Conference (New York, June 2017) and the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (Buenos Aires, December 2017).

The first will be a Briefing on "The fisheries regulatory framework at multilateral level and preparations to the U.N. High Level Ocean Conference 2017" in order to provide clarity on the main obligations and functioning of the multilateral legal framework applicable to fisheries and the development of the process leading to The Ocean Conference. This event is the result of a request made by participants during a previous briefing on the conference on 16 January 2017.

The second event will be the Oceans Forum on trade-related aspects of SDG14, which will seek to discuss policy and regulatory options for advancing the implementation of trade in fish related targets under SDG 14 by drawing on global, regional and cross-country experiences, sharing lessons, sensitizing development partnerships and designing more effective support measures.

See video: A Man-made Tragedy: The Overexploitation of Fish Stocks

Participation

The Briefing and Forum will be attended by Member States of UNCTAD, specialized agencies and other inter-governmental bodies. Civil society organizations interested in oceans and fisheries related issue wishing to participate should register online as soon as possible and by 16 March. To do so, please use the following link: Briefing on the fisheries regulatory framework at multilateral level and Oceans Forum on trade-related aspects of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

For all other enquiries, please contact:

Mr. David Vivas Eugui, tel.: +41 22 917 56 42; e-mail: david.vivas.eugui@unctad.org

Mr. Graham Mott, tel.: +41 22 917 57 79; e-mail: graham.mott@unctad.org

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