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Day 2: FAO at the #SaveourOcean Conference

Busy plenary sessions on Day 2 of the UN Ocean Conference in New York.
FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Árni M. Mathiesen speaks about FAO work to meet the special needs of SIDS and least developed countries.
Peru, Costa Rica and Norway all presented their work at the well-attended Small-scale fisheries event.

The FAO delegation in New York and its partners are active in a series of events at FAO Headquarters related to the United Nations Ocean Conference (#SaveourOcean). You can see the wrap-up of our first day dedicated to the oceans here.

With over 100 side events and FAO involvement or co-organization in over twenty-five of those, New York days are long and hectic, but it couldn’t be otherwise for those working in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. The events taking place, the discussion they generate, the wide range of partners with their broad geographical perspective and the commitment they bring to the table about working together to help countries achieve the objectives of SDG 14 help to keep the energy levels high for the FAO delegation during their stay in the City that Never Sleeps.

On Tuesday – Day 2 – the main topics in plenary debate were marine protected areas, the reduction or ban of plastic bags, the danger of microplastics and improving integrated coastal management.

The morning session included Partnership Dialogue 2 – Managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems. The session was co-chaired by Tommy Remengesau, President of Palau, and Silvia Velo, Italy’s Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea. The need for partnership, science-based policies and strengthening coastal communities were all discussed.

The afternoon’s session included Partnership Dialogue 3 – Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification. This session was co-chaired by Prince Albert II of Monaco and Agostinho Mondlane, Mozambique’s Minister of the Sea, Inland Wares and Fisheries.

FAO participated in and co-organized numerous side events taking place during Day 2.

These included an event co-organized with UNCTAD entitled ‘Fisheries Subsidies: the path towards a Global Agreement’ The event discussed progress on the FAO-UNCTAD-UNEP Fisheries Subsidies work, and outlined next steps. Speaking at the event UNGA President Thompson stated “We need to take decisive action to eliminate certain types of fisheries subsidies and deliver results by the next WTO meeting in Buenos Aires later this year.” Speaking at the event, FAO Fisheries Director Manuel Barange noted that fisheries subsidies create an unlevel playing filed for small-scale fisherfolk in developing countries, and hinder the sustainability of jobs, livelihoods and economic growth. Ministers form Fiji and Barbados both stressed the need for agreement on fisheries subsidies, to better support small-scale fisheries communities.

There was a full room for the small-scale fisheries event, entitled ‘Joining forces for sustainable small-sale fisheries through a human-rights based approach to ocean conservation’. FAO’s Nicole Franz provided an overview of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Small-sale fisheries and related instruments aimed at improving the lives of small-scale fisheries communities. Peru noted that 50 000 Peruvian artisanal fisherfolk support the livelihoods of 400 000 people and that 70-80% of their catch is destined for human consumption.

Costa Rica shared its experiences in implementing the Voluntary Guidelines with its small-scale fisheries communities, and its objective to improve the lives and livelihoods of these often vulnerable communities.

FAO Fisheries Director Manuel Barange speaks about FAO’s work, alongside UNCTAD and UNEP, on fisheries subsidies.

An interesting side event entitled ‘Oceans, Overfishing and Sustainable Gastronomy’, co-organized by the Governments of Thailand, Peru and Italy, with support From FAO, UNEP and UNESCO linked into the recently established Sustainable Gastronomy Day on 18 June. The event looked at creative and replicable good practices that bring together renowned chefs, the food and hospitality industry and civil society organizations to exert a positive influence on people’s dietary patterns. This includes communication on our shared responsibility to conserve and sustainably use marine resources, and to recognize the role of small-scale fisheries. FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Árni M. Mathiesen, spoke at the event, linking together the important role of fish for food security, concerns about overfishing and the key role of small-scale artisanal fisheries.

An event on fisheries crime explored joint work FAO, UNCTAD, ILO and UNODC undertake on various aspects of fisheries-related crime, ranging from illegal fishing to drug smuggling, organized crime, drug trafficking and forced labour.

The ‘Fish for the Poor’ event highlighted experiences from Mauritania and India, stressing how small pelagic resources provide crucial nutrition to small-sale fishing communities in developing countries. It is crucial to remember that for the most vulnerable populations, fish continues to be the main or only source of animal proteins in their diets. More than 3.1 billion people around the world depend on fish for at least 20% of their total animal protein intake.

Another busy day came to a close in New York. We will continue our coverage of FAO at the UN Ocean Conference. Until tomorrow!

Stella the Seahorse stands guard outside UN Headquarters during this Ocean Conference. She joins an array of creative sea creature sculptures that grace the UN gardens this week.
There was lively discussion and an exchange of best practices and ideas at the small-scale fisheries event.
Thorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Iceland addressing the Food from the Ocean event.
Barbados speaks in support of work on fisheries subsidies at the UNCTAD-FAO event.
FAO’s Nicole Franz speaks at the small-scale fisheries event and describes work undertaken implementing the Voluntary Guidelines on small-scale fisheries.
FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Árni M. Mathiesen speaking at the Oceans, Overfishing and Sustainable Gastronomy event.
Participants at the Fish Crime event.
WTO takes the floor at the fisheries subsidies event.
Ocean discussions will continue all this week in New York.

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