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Global Oceans Action Summit Focuses on Identifying Solutions for Healthy Oceans

23 April 2014

NETHERLANDS - Urgent coordinated action is needed to restore the health of the world’s oceans and secure the long-term well-being and food security of a growing global population. That is a key message of an international summit that opened 22 April in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Ministers and senior representatives from governments, the fishing industry, coastal communities, science and civil society are coming together at the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth (22-25 April) which aims to bring global attention and increased investment into addressing the three key threats to ocean health and food security: overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution. The summit will culminate in a high-level roundtable on Thursday 25 April.

“Urgent joint action of the global community is needed to address the threats facing our oceans”, said H.E. Sharon Dijksma, Minister for Agriculture of the Netherlands, which is hosting the summit.

“Local innovations to balance ecology and economy at sea must be identified and put into practice in other regions. The Global Oceans Action Summit in The Hague provides the opportunity to make a difference.”

On average, 17 per cent of global animal protein intake comes from fisheries and aquaculture, and demand for fish protein is expected to double in the next 20 years, yet some 28 per cent of global stocks are already overfished.

At the same time, climate change is threatening biodiversity, altering habitats and changing the productivity of our fisheries.

“Healthy oceans have a central role to play in solving one of the biggest problems of the 21st century – how to feed nine billion people by 2050,” said Árni M. Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“However, we need to act now at the speed and scale necessary to meet the challenges we face by joining forces with all stakeholders, fostering partnerships and spurring sustainable growth.

Over 500 delegates are expected to attend the Summit, including more than 60 ministers, CEOs and leaders from civil society.

Hosted by the Government of the Netherlands, the Summit is co-organized by the World Bank, FAO and the governments of Grenada, Indonesia, Mauritius, Norway and the United States of America.

Balancing acts

The Summit will focus on some of the underlying causes that have led to the overfishing, increased marine pollution and loss of critical habitat as well as potential solutions.

This means balancing the demand for growth with the need for conservation of marine areas; addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the high seas and within national exclusive economic zones; and ensuring private sector growth does not come at the expense of protecting the livelihoods of local communities.

“Solutions exist that balance the ecological and economic demands on the ocean,” said Juergen Voegele, Director of Agriculture and Environmental Services at the World Bank, a co-organizer of the event.

“We have the opportunity to align all our efforts and bring solutions to scale locally. With public-private partnerships and shared approaches we can restore ocean health and provide food and jobs for communities worldwide.”

In exploring solutions, emphasis will also be placed on the finance mechanisms and governance structures needed to ensure that actions have the impact and longevity to respond to global demands.

Among the approaches discussed, inclusive partnerships that bring together public, private, community and civil society actors will be highlighted.

Blue growth

Coming out of the 2012 Rio+20 Conference, the blue economy comprises the food, jobs and opportunities for development provided by ocean and coastal assets.

Blue growth emphasises conservation and sustainable management of aquatic resources and equitable benefits to the coastal communities that rely on them.

TheFishSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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