US, others make commitments for sustainability at Our Ocean

At the Our Ocean 2018 conference held last week in Indonesia, the United States pledged its support for 15 initiatives that would affect fishing communities across the globe.

In addition, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Indonesian Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti during the two-day conference in Bali to reaffirm their nations’ commitment to encourage sustainable fisheries management worldwide.

Kerry, who also served as a conference presenter, commended Indonesia for its role in combating illegal fishing.

"I believe there is big crime committed in relation to [illegal, unreported and unregulated] fishing and this should be addressed by countries around the world," he said. "To ensure sustainability, one of the ways is to maintain the volume of catch, making sure there is no overfishing."

Another way the U.S. will work to combat illegal fishing is by working with The Waitt Foundation to hold a February 2019 summit in San Diego, California, U.S.A. with leaders from other countries to identify pilot projects that can be implemented online. 

Peter Horn, who heads the Ending Illegal Fishing Project for The Pew Charitable Trusts, said he’s looking forward to the summit.

“We welcome the broadening of the debate of the governance issues behind current levels of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and its second and third order consequences,” he told SeafoodSource in an email. “IUU fishing is often seen as purely an environmental crime with any absence of compliance with the rules countering it a management issue rather than what it really is: The tip of an iceberg of criminality which is directly linked to maritime safety and security.”

The U.S. also pledged USD 1 million (EUR 875,085) in funding through 2020 to create sustainable waste management systems that will reduce the amount of fishing gear left in ocean waters. In addition, the U.S. announced sustainable fishery programs designed to help the Philippines, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

The conference brought together government leaders and representatives from various non-governmental organizations to forge agreements pertinent to keeping oceans sustainable. The conferences have led countries and NGOs to make more than 300 commitments and pledge more than USD 10.7 billion (EUR 9.4 billion) toward them. Those commitments cover an area of roughly 14 million square kilometers. By comparison, the Indian Ocean, the third-largest ocean in the world, covers approximately 70.6 million square kilometers.

Elsewhere, Thai Union Group PCL, Chicken of the Sea, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium announced the creation of SeaChange IGNITE, a USD 73 million (EUR 63.9 million) initiative over an eight-year span that will look to promote sustainability initiatives for fisheries and aquaculture in Southeast Asia. SeaChange IGNITE will partner with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to work with government and industry leaders to develop comprehensive solutions for sustainable fishery practices. 

“Thai Union positions sustainability at the heart of our business, and SeaChange IGNITE represents the next step toward further ensuring the food on consumers’ plates meets the highest quality and sustainability standards,” Thai Union’s Global Director for Sustainable Development Darian McBain said.

The sixth Our Ocean conference will be held 24 through 25 October, 2019 in Oslo, Norway.


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