Blue Growth blog

Half-way through #SaveourOcean Conference

Pew Charitable Trusts’ Tony Long and FAO’s Árni M. Mathiesen share a word on the podium of Partnership Dialogue 4.
The FAO Port State Measures video was screened at Partnership Dialogue 4.

Wednesday marked the half-way point to the week dedicated to oceans in New York, at the UN Ocean Conference (#SaveourOcean).

FAO has been active at this important event throughout the week. If you’re not in New York for the event (and even if you are, but simply can’t keep up with the 100+ events taking place this week), you can see our wrap-ups of Day 1 and Day 2.

Plenary sessions on Wednesday focused largely upon commitments to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the issue of fisheries subsidies, and how to build sustainable fisheries.

The morning’s session on Partnership Dialogue 4 – ‘Making fisheries sustainable’ was an issue close to FAO’s heart. Partnership Dialogue 4 was co-chaired by Dominic LeBlanc, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard and Senegal’s Oumar Guèye, Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy.

The session was moderated by Tony Long, Director of the Ending Illegal Fishing Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts. FAO’s Assistant Director-General, Fisheries and Aquaculture Árni M. Mathiesen spoke from the podium about the central nature of sustainable fisheries in all of FAO’s work. He informed participants that total fisheries production today is 170 million metric tonnes, with 95 million metric tonnes of that figure derived from capture fisheries. He also noted that approximately one-third of fish stocks are overfished, at biologically unsustainable levels.

He pointed attention to three major challenges, currently under discussion at the week-long Conference:

  1. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
  2. Difficult management of shared, straddling and migrating stocks on the high-seas as well as in coastal sovereign waters.
  3. Improving the status of fisheries in coastal communities in developing countries including SIDS. These are mostly small-scale fisheries and those concerned make up over 90% the people involved in the fishing industry globally.
Partnership Dialogue 4 included interesting global and country perspectives on how to ensure sustainable fisheries.

Speaking about illegal fishing, Mathiesen noted that significant progress has been made in recent years. ”I am convinced that IUU fishing can be solved with our present instruments, the Port State Measure Agreement, Catch Documentation Schemes, and the Global Record for fishing vessels, complemented by some of the initiatives that have been presented here this week, like the Tuna Transparency Declaration. We are closer than ever to ending IUU fishing, if we put our minds and resources to it.”

Mathiesen also spoke about the regional management bodies – the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) – that are crucial players in ending IUU fishing and improving fisheries management around the globe. “If the RFMOs would get the political, scientific and financial resource support that they need, they could serve us more broadly and effectively. It is as if we forgot that a system like that needs resources, fuel to run on, in order to work most productively.”

During the session, a film about the FAO Port State Measures Agreement, now in effect for one year, was  shown in the hall and introduced by Senegal’s Minister Guèye. The film has been updated to include the current 48 parties to the Agreement, with the 28 member countries of the European Union counting as a single party. Slowly but surely, the network of countries committing themselves to ending illegal fishing in their waters becomes ever wider:



FAO’s Árni M. Mathiesen addresses Plenary.

In the afternoon, Partnership Dialogue 5 – ‘Increasing economic benefits to Small Island Developing States SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets’ took place. The Dialogue was co-chaired by Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada and Marko Pomerants, Minister of Environment of Estonia.

The Dialogue addressed the role of small-scale fisheries in the economies of SIDS and LDCs and how they contribute to coastal communities’ livelihoods.

Ideas for how to improve market access were considered, as were concerns related to developing infrastructure, providing greater access to technology and strengthening cooperatives.

At the event, there was strong support for the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Small-scale Fisheries. Co-Chair Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada made an impassioned plea from the podium for the full and effective participation of small-scale fisherfolk in the decision-making process that directly impacts upon their livelihoods.

The civil society organization Rare made a commitment to mobilize 100 million USD in support of small-scale fisheries, and pointed to the Voluntary guidelines as a key instrument needed to implement inclusive approaches.

There were also a full range of side events keeping our FAO delegation and fellow participants busy. Join us for the rest of the week at the Ocean Conference and World Oceans Day celebrations in New York and around the world – including the “Blueing” of FAO Headquarters to mark this very important celebration.

Partnership Dialogue 5 addressed the role of small-scale fisheries in the economies of SIDS and LDCs and how they contribute to coastal communities’ livelihoods.
Partnership Dialogue 4 was co-chaired by Senegal’s Oumar Guèye, Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy and Dominic LeBlanc, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard.
Another busy day of sessions and discussions in New York.
At the Fiji side event, Fiji’s Prime Minister speaks about innovative ocean management in his island nation, and the challenges SIDS face in achieving SDG 14.
FAO’s Árni M. Mathiesen speaks to Plenary about FAO work in support of SDG 14.
The topic of conversation in New York all week: our oceans and how we can all work collectively and individually to protect them.

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