A conference on overfishing in the world’s oceans
Protecting the world’s oceans and its resources could come closer to reality as countries gather this week in China for the United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity.
Nations are expected to start delivering on their pledges to protect 30% of the world’s oceans, including implementing or pledging support for the implementation of more marine protected areas in the world. the world.
The conference, to be held in Kunming, China from Monday, follows a collective commitment by more than 100 countries to protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Climate change has been a major theme at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September, and the target remains high although environmentalists remain hopeful.
The Global Atlas of Marine Protected Areas which covers some 18,000 MPAs shows that only 2.7% of the ocean is fully or highly protected from the impacts of fishing. A previous target of protecting 10% by 2020 has been missed.
And although some countries are expected to increase their coverage of MPAs, management was still an issue, according to University of Hawaii marine researcher Alan Friedlander.
Friedlander was part of a group of marine experts who called for more effective management strategies – a model for future MPA management – because there was a wide range of interpretations and “not all MPAs are created. equal ”.
Management was of equal importance to designation, he said.
“It’s a big difference between what is heavily protected and what is declared protected,” Friedlander said. “We really need strong protection if the goal is biodiversity.”
The separation of ocean areas has generally annoyed fishing organizations, although studies show that the implementation of MPAs could in fact have a positive impact on their catches. Protected areas lead to bigger fish, which have exponential impacts on populations. A study published last year suggested a A 5% increase in protected areas would lead to a 20% increase in future catches. Conversely, staying on the current path would have magnified impacts on biodiversity across the world’s oceans.
“It seems a bit counterintuitive that by setting areas aside you will have better fishing,” Friedlander said.
But the reality was that the bigger the fish, the more they spawn, and since fishing boats often lingered outside protected areas, they would get bigger fish and more money.
Designating an MPA does not necessarily mean closing it off from all activities, extractive or not. Rather, it should be viewed the same way land zoning regulations work, says Aulani Wilhelm, senior vice president for oceans at Conservation International.
In the past, MPAs had been put in place to manage tourism or conflicts between different parties. Others may be for restorative purposes or simply to keep areas that are already healthy.
“What’s difficult is when a community or a country creates and has intentions for one thing, and has expectations for something else,” Wilhelm said.
Wilhem, who played a central role in the implementation of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, believes that when implementing MPAs, objectives must be set and management strategies must be adapted to them.
New MPAs could be announced at this week’s conference, Frieldander said.
“There are places that go up. The CBD conference is going to make a strong commitment, ”he said.
Much of the discussion on MPAs has focused on Exclusive economic zones, waters that extend 200 miles from a country and are considered under the control of that country. Corn negotiations are also underway for the protection of international waters.
During the United Nations General Assembly, several Pacific countries called on the global community to act on climate change. While nations have called on world powers to speed up their climate responses, some are also leading the way in their own work.
Masha Kalinina, international head of conservation at The Pew Trusts, said that despite expressions of support, monetary or otherwise, world powers should take more of a leadership role – especially the United States – in addition to national commitments. There have been notable exceptions in South America, such as Argentina, and several in southern Africa, Kalinina added.
“It’s great to see the Pacific Island countries really speak up for marine protection,” she said. “While we don’t see global leadership, we see these local leaders conveying messages of particularly increased marine protection. “
Three Pacific countries have made notable commitments to protect and conserve their waters.
While Palau’s waters are completely off-limits to outside extractive industries, the Cook Islands has a multi-use MPA covering the 1.18 million miles of its exclusive economic zone (with the notable exception of mining in high seas) and Niue now protects 40% or about 49,000 square miles of its waters.
Eugene Joseph, executive director of the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia, said community management of MPAs began in 2001.
With 14 protected areas, the last implementation dates back to 2010. Each one focuses, for example, on a particular species or a spawning area.
But the work was not without criticism. Fishermen worry about their short-term inefficiency and the immediate ramifications for people’s incomes. And despite the constant surveillance exercised by Joseph’s company, it was not always enough to allay these concerns.
“You can’t just put something on and see the result overnight or overnight,” he said. “There are negative factors that come into play, and this has a huge and critical impact on the management of (MPAs).”
Fishing is important to island nations, which often depend on income from leasing their waters to foreign fishing vessels.
But opponents of MPAs, mainly fishing organizations, are starting to realize the importance of considering protections for the sustainability of their industry.
The Micronesia Conservation Trust, which helps fund conservation work in Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, considered more innovative ideas, such as reallocating some of the tuna license fees to fund conservation efforts.
“I think the issue has sort of been resolved now that everyone understands that… for us to be able to support the fishery here we would need some conservation work and that is in everyone’s best interest.” , said William Koska, executive director of MCT.
Likewise, in Niue or Palau, various fees have been put in place for tourism or alternative and sustainable financing models to fill the gaps left by marine extractive industries.
Wilhelm’s experience with MPAs around the world led her to believe that cooperation is the only way to go. The community run areas of the Pacific, or even Papahanaumokuakea, require different strategies to get people to join.
There are projects already implemented in the world, and in particular in the Pacific Ocean, and many cases to be learned.
“It’s really an open source area, and (it’s) really the only way for us to reach 30%,” she said. “This is going to require commitments from countries to work through international or regional bodies to achieve it.”