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FAO joins governments in affirming commitment to Blue Economy

Leveraging on fisheries and aquaculture to achieve sustainability

Blue economy encompasses sustainable development of aquatic-based industries, including fisheries (capture and culture), fish processing, transport, tourism and energy, (Photo: ©FAO/Luis Tato)

28 November 2018, Nairobi—In another unprecedented global gathering, world leaders re-affirmed their commitment to Sustainable Blue Economy as a means to augment the achievement of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Speaking at the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representative to Kenya, Gabriel Rugalema, echoed the sentiments of high-level officials in harnessing the potential of the blue sectors—from the aquatic-derived energy to maritime transport, tourism, fishing, etc.

Mr. Rugalema added that FAO works in tandem with governments and partners to achieve Blue Growth, “This translates to enhanced food security, decent work and poverty alleviation through sustainable and multi-sectoral development of fisheries, aquaculture and associated value chains.”

Global challenges

Latest statistics show that there has been a rise in chronically undernourished people at 815 million in 2016. In terms of the fishing sector, 33.1% of global fish stocks are overfished in 2015 with waste in fisheries value chains upwards of 35% of global catches. Additionally, primary production in the ocean forecasts a decline of 6% by 2100 as the result of climate change.

However, figures depict positive trends, which include the rise of consumption of fish—nature’s healthy super food—reaching a record-high 20.3 kg per capita in 2016 worldwide and provided 3.2 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein.

Mr. Rugalema pointed out that 59.6 million people were in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture in 2016. He added that aquaculture continues to grow faster than other major food production sectors and reached a first-sale value of 243.5 billion USD in 2016.

All these, according to Mr. Rugalema, requires that we need the necessary laws and policies to underpin our efforts. “We need to look into uniting the strength of the public and private sectors to seed blue economy transitions that are effective and financially sustainable in the long run. As FAO, we join the world in developing the necessary skills and know-how to empower people and we should continue to be innovative—both technically and financially.”

Blue Economy

Blue economy encompasses sustainable development of aquatic-based industries, including fisheries (capture and culture), fish processing, transport, tourism, energy, etc. Similar to the concept of green economy, the blue economy looks into maximizing the socioeconomic benefits of aquatic industries while minimizing environmental degradation. 

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference 2018

The Government of Kenya is hosting the world’s first Global High-Level Conference on the Sustainable Blue Economy, November 26-28, 2018, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.  The Governments of Canada and Japan are co-hosts with a number of other countries and organizations. The event is a preparatory exercise to the UN Ocean's Conference, which Kenya will be co-hosting with Portugal in 2020.

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