Paul Lansbergen: Adoption of Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework must involve seafood industry consultation

Paul Lansbergen

The adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) on 19 December, 2022, in Montreal, Canada could have a broad impact on seafood industry.

The framework involves four goals and 23 action-oriented targets to achieve preservation and effective conservation management of 30 percent of the globe’s terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine areas by 2030, a goal pushed by the global “30x30” movement. The agreement is designed to protect biodiversity in those areas and to recognize historically indigenous territories.

There are three pillars that make up the Convention on Biological Diversity: conservation/preservation, fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources, and sustainable use.

Fisheries Council of Canada President and International Coalition of Fisheries Associations Vice-Chair Paul Lansbergen, who was at the Montreal negotiations and who has criticized the “30x30” movement as not doing enough to achieve true sustainability and conservation, said he was relieved to see the agreement recognize the continued need to harvest fish to fulfill global food needs.

“It is important to remember that fish are biodiversity and its use for food is not an option,” he said. “The framework recognizes the positive relationship sustainable use can deliver for conservation of biodiversity. It is not ‘either or’ in the fisheries sector and the men and women who work the water need to continue to be responsible stewards of the resource.”

The ICFA is a global coalition made up of the world’s major fishing nations’ fish and seafood industry trade associations that collectively account for about 85 percent of the world’s wild-catch harvests. Lansbergen said the association has the goal of improving the sustainability of the world’s wild-catch fisheries.

“It’s not good enough that 82.5 percent of the world’s harvests are from sustainable fish stocks – 100 percent of global fish stocks should be sustainable and support sustainable use,” he said.

It’s important the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework recognizes that sustainable use of marine resources contributes to food security, Lansbergen said. One third of the world’s population is at least partially supported by fisheries, making them critical to global food security and global economic stability.

“The Fisheries Council of Canada and the Canadian fisheries industry is pleased to see an emphasis on sustainable use throughout the framework developed at the COP15 conference, and that other effective area-based conservation measures are recognized in the targets contributing to the 30x30 conservation goal,” he said. “Sustainable fishing is a necessary part of feeding the growing population responsibly, and conservation measures need to recognize the balance between science-based sustainable use and marine stewardship. Moving forward, industry, stakeholders, and local governments will need to assess the targets and the associated indicators to determine an action plan outlining potential policies, industry-led initiatives or otherwise to create a transparent and collaborative process for achieving those goals.”

Lansbergen said ICFA is calling for spatial planning, transparency of the development of national action plans, and consultation with industry stakeholders as part of every nation’s 30x30 participation.

As defined by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, marine spatial planning is a collaborative management of ocean spaces by taking into account all partners and activities to balance human demand and marine ecosystem protection in a practical way.

“In Canada, marine spatial planning can allow certain flexibilities that would help enable ambitious marine conservation objectives while also allowing for sustainable growth in our ocean sectors as part of the development of a resilient blue economy. It is this balance between conservation and sustainable use that is key for the fisheries industry and our vision of feeding the world sustainably,” Lansbergen said.

On the topic of transparency, Lansbergen said the seafood industry has taken the initiative through standards created by the Marine Stewardship Council and other eco-labels[ED1] , and through the Fisheries Transparency Initiative.

“It is very important to the Canadian fisheries industry that the Global Biodiversity Framework upholds its promise to provide support to parties to achieve its targets in a more transparent and responsible manner,” Lansbergen said. “Transparency provides predictability, which is important for investment decisions that will be the foundation for a prosperous sector in the future.”

As nations advance their 30x30 plans, Lansbergen asked that they continue to consult with the seafood industry in order to achieve maximum impact with a minimum of economic and social disruption.

“Consultations with stakeholders is a key component and is outlined in the mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting and review of the framework,” he said. “Along with transparency, consultation with stakeholders is vital for the success of the framework, as these are the individuals out on the water and are directly affected by any decisions made.”

Photo courtesy of the Fisheries Council of Canada


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