01 June 2017
Taxpayers’money should go to ocean protection – not destruction
01 June 2017
THE UN OCEAN CONFERENCE, NEW YORK, 5-9 JUNE, 2017
BLOOM, the Paris-based Non-Governmental Organization recognized for its landmark campaign for the protection of deep-sea biodiversity, will participate in the first High level UN Ocean Conference convened by the General Assembly, to support a crucial point of the agenda: the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies.
The Conference opens on Monday 5 June, World Environment Day, and is expected to conclude its substantive work on 8 June, World Ocean Day. Thousands of Ocean Advocates, together with Heads of State or Government and Ministers will converge next week in New York to adopt a “Call for Action” to accelerate the implementation of SDG14 – the Ocean Sustainable Development Goal adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 together with 16 other goals. NGOs, private sector organizations, academics and government representatives are also expected to review existing and new “partnership initiatives” in support of ocean conservation in what is expected to be an unprecedented gathering of “ocean minds”.
“The UN Ocean Conference takes place at a critical junction”, says BLOOM’s founder Claire Nouvian, “just a little over two years before Governments must fulfil their obligation to eliminate by 2020 harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing, overcapacity, and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. It also takes place six months before the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s December 2017 Ministerial Conference where a legally-binding mechanism to eliminate harmful subsidies is on the agenda. Collapsing fish populations and degraded marine biodiversity jeopardize livelihoods and food safety around the world. Fishing and therefore fish trade will never be sustainable unless harmful fisheries subsidies are eliminated and overfishing curtailed. Taxpayers’ money needs to be put to better use in support of ocean health.”
Nouvian refers to the estimated USD 18 billion which governments worldwide use annually to fund activities which contravene the Ocean sustainable development goal (n°14), including fuel subsidies for distant and high seas fishing fleets, incentives for the construction of large fishing vessels that target globally declining fish stocks with high impact gear that destroy critical marine habitats etc.
The Ocean SDG identifies the World Trade Organization as the international organization best fit to eliminate harmful subsidies, and asks the WTO to put action in place by 2020 (SDG Target 14.6). The WTO holds a ministerial conference only once every two years. BLOOM will alert governments and ocean advocates on the fact that the December 2017 WTO meeting in Buenos Aires is the only opportunity for the international community to have a timely implementation of SDG 14.6 (elimination of harmful subsidies by 2020), as there will be no other WTO meeting beforethe end of 2019. “It’s time to put words into action”, says Nouvian.
BLOOM is concerned that the Ocean and WTO Conferences this year come at a time when the new US Administration is actively campaigning to undermine multilateralism, and ocean-related issues are no exception on the Trump agenda. President Trump thus wants to “review the impact on jobs” of marine protected areas established by President G.W. Bush and President Obama. During the consultations which recently took place at the UN to draft the Call for action which will be finalized at the Ocean Conference next week, the US Administration has reportedly opposed, together with Russia, any reference to the WTO acting “with no further delay” to eliminate harmful fisheries subsidies.
“The timely implementation of the Ocean Sustainable Development Goal is critical to marine conservation, socio-economic stability and sustainable development as a whole, “because the ocean is the origin and basis of all life on our blue planet.”, said Rémi Parmentier, a policy and strategic analyst, Director of The Varda Group who works with BLOOM on the issue of harmful subsidies Parmentier who has followed SDG and Ocean negotiations at the UN for many years emphasizes why it is so important that taxpayers’ money be used to protect the ocean, not to destroy it: “Every second breath of air we inhale comes from the ocean, and it provides food and livelihoods for one billion people”.
Parallel to the diplomatic negotiation on the implementation of the Ocean SDG (Sustainable Development Goal 14), the UN Ocean Conference has also launched a ’voluntary commitment’ initiative to instill mobilization from all stakeholders, including governments to commit to concrete actions that will help attain targets of SDG 14.
The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, which BLOOM is a member of, has submitted a ‘voluntary commitment’ consisting in working with States and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to ensure that by 2020 all deep-sea species, ecosystems and areas are conserved and fully protected from significant adverse impacts caused by deep-sea fishing.
BLOOM is also signatory to a statement that the NGO Seas At Risk is drawing the attention of poltical leaders to called “Deep-sea mining has no place in a future shaped by the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development” . Moreover, Seas At Risk has submitted a voluntary commitment to “raise awareness about sustainable alternatives to deep-sea mining”.