The event ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Fisheries for Human Well-Being’ took place on 9 June 2017 at the UN Headquarters in New York during the high-level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development). The event was co-organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Fisheries Agency of Japan. Representatives of governments, scientific institutes, international organizations and civil society met to discuss ways to harmonize and coordinate efforts taking place in biodiversity and fisheries to ensure the convergence of the two agendas for the achievement of their mutual objectives.
Jihyun Lee, CBD Secretariat, delivered opening remarks on behalf of Cristiana Pașca Palmer, CBD Executive Secretary. She said that sustainable fisheries are essential to the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity, highlighting that this is captured in Aichi Biodiversity Target 6 (By 2020, all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits). Lee noted that the CBD’s Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI) launched the Global Dialogues with Regional Seas Organizations (RSOs) and Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs) on Accelerating Progress Towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the SDGs. She stated that 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.
Serge Garcia, International Union for Conservation of Nature-Commission on Ecosystem Management-Fisheries Expert Group (IUCN-CEM-FEG), underlined the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity, which is the process of embedding biodiversity considerations in the policies and programmes of relevant stakeholders, as enabled by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Aichi Biodiversity Target 6, and SDG 14. He further described mainstreaming as both outcomes on the ground, and different policy tools and approaches for management.
Joseph Appiott, CBD Secretariat, highlighted the links and overlaps between the SDG 14 targets and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Stressing that biodiversity objectives can only be met if fisheries’ activities are sustainable and that sustainable fisheries objectives can only be achieved if the ecosystem is healthy, he noted that Aichi Biodiversity Target 6 is vital for the achievements of many of the other Aichi Biodiversity Targets such as, inter alia: 8 (By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity); 10 (By 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimized, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning); 12 (By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained); and 19 (By 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequences of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred, and applied).
Kim Friedman, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), traced the evolution of the ecosystem approach to fisheries, describing the different policy instruments developed over time for its implementation. He also presented FAO’s efforts in the area of fisheries research, including on the status of stocks, biodiversity research, training and capacity building, and building agreements of action. He said the FAO will: continue to balance efforts across the full seascape of fisheries; build consensus around understanding risk; and measure the progress of its effort and adapt accordingly.
Jake Rice, IUCN-CEM-FEG, considered ways in which different fisheries are responding to the different elements of Aichi Biodiversity Target 6. He explained the commitments, policy instruments and operational guidance implemented by fisheries in response to global drivers, noting that these were done in collaboration with the CBD, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and others, but are still “in house.” He said that having common outcomes depends on implementation. On fisheries’ role in food security, he noted that the issue of equity needs to receive far more attention.
Wataru Tanoue, Fisheries Agency of Japan, said the mainstreaming of biodiversity implies both the conservation of marine biodiversity and the utilization of fisheries resources. He noted that Japan currently has around 1,055 marine protected areas (MPAs), with most MPAs actively involving fishers in their establishment and management. He said Japan’s coastal areas are covered by tenure zones, which have strict limited entry for commercial fisheries based on territorial use-rights. He added that self-imposed management measures agreed by members of fishery co-management organizations are introduced in each of these communities. Tanoue stressed that co-management is the only realistic solution for the majority of world’s fisheries.
Given the example of starving or freezing children, Johán H. Williams, Ministry of Trade, Norway, underlined that “when today kills you do not care about tomorrow—you will cut the last tree, and fish the last fish.” He stressed that eradicating extreme poverty and ending hunger are essential to saving the environment, including through implementing and achieving SDGs 1 (on poverty) and 2 (on hunger), as poverty and hunger are a threat to “the Future We Want.”
Vivienne Solís Rivera, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, spoke about mainstreaming human rights-based approaches to ocean conservation. She called for marine conservation to consider issues related to land tenure near the coasts, gender consideration, Indigenous Peoples cosmos-visions, traditional knowledge, and migration. As essential for marine conservation she identified: strengthening actors’ capacities; collective action; promoting institutional capacities for transdisciplinary approaches to Ocean conservation; and public-private partnerships (PPPs). She further called for a community governance of marine resources with a territorial vision, and for recognizing traditional knowledge and the local identities of fishing communities.
In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, inter alia: climate change and its impact on fisheries; the relation between micro- and macro-management; whether science has the necessary knowledge and tools to save the Ocean; capturing the different efforts undertaken for implementing the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the SDGs in review mechanisms; and equity in the use and management of marine resources.
Access the photos here