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International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability

Session 2 – Sustainable fisheries: linking biodiversity conservation and sustainable use

FAO session lead: Vera Agostini

Speakers and panelists

Biological diversity and the complex interconnections between species and populations, their functions and the environment, underpin the food and livelihoods upon which our growing population depends. However, despite the inextricable linkages between food provisioning, ecological and socioeconomic systems, objectives for biodiversity conservation are often considered to be in competition with objectives for food security. This perception has been exacerbated by the fact that responsibilities for each are often mandated to different government departments and international agencies. In recent years we have seen a growth in the calls from national and international fora to better integrate these objectives, given their shared interest in and need for sustainability.

Fisheries goals are reflected in a range of normative instruments, guidelines and commitments. The 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) and the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries, for example, describe a range of fisheries actions in relation to biodiversity conservation. Internationally agreed targets have been set under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi frameworks that orientate countries' fishery actions to delivering on biodiversity conservation objectives.

This raises a number of key questions. How can we reconcile fisheries and biodiversity objectives? Do we have the necessary understanding and systems in place to support effective implementation and accountability to achieve delivery on joint or agreed objectives at multiple scales? How do we ensure we are able to meet the nutritional needs of a growing world population while at the same time ensuring our marine ecosystems are not degraded and can support food production into the future?

A greater understanding, effective communication, and novel tools to support management of common and/or complementary objectives, as well as mechanisms for shared accountability, are needed. Organizations and individuals working on fisheries and biodiversity conservation seem to be converging on a triple bottom line – ecosystem, social and economic sustainability – but how can we accelerate the achievement of these transformative goals? How can we move from describing and monitoring the health of fish stocks to the health of ecosystems – to engaging countries and international organizations in reporting the provisioning, supporting, regulating and social-cultural services that renewable marine resources offer?

This session will outline how the sustainability of fisheries and the maintenance of biodiversity are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent, and explore the changing nature of fisheries management within this context.

We will examine how multiple objectives can be combined, and consider questions such as: What are the frameworks available to analyze trade-offs, benefits and risks, and set appropriate targets? What messages and information should we be delivering to motivate effective action? What stakeholder groups should we be engaging? How can gender diversity and social inclusion help deliver more effective outcomes? What role can economic incentives play? What are the partnerships we need to make progress? By considering experiences to date, we will outline both the science and the practical management solutions needed and discuss the challenges and opportunities for bringing the critical mass of effort to deliver cooperative policy and action.

The outcomes of this session will support:

SDG 1 – Reduce poverty
SDG 2 – Food security
SDG 3 – Health and wellbeing
SDG 8 – Economic growth
SDG targets 14.2 & 14.C
SDG – 15 Life on land
SDG 16 – Effective institutions
SIDS Samoa Pathways
Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Targets
Post 2020-framework
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries