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Marking Ocean Day at the #SaveourOcean Conference

FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva, alongside Ministers from Sweden, Indonesia, Palau, and Norway at the Port State Measures event on World Oceans Day
FAO’s Director-General calling FAO’s Port State Measures a landmark agreement.
FAO’s Director-General and Sweden’s Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Sven-Erik Bucht bilateral meeting, in which Sweden pledged its generous support to FAO’s work to combat illegal fishing.

Thursday morning in New York was dedicated to celebrating World Oceans Day, which takes place each 8 June.

To see our earlier posts on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3, click here.

As UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson noted, the celebrations taking place this year during the UN Ocean Conference also celebrated our awareness of the need to “right the wrongs” we have done to the ocean. Speaking in plenary, Thomspon announced that more than 1 000 voluntary commitments were submitted, and called the conference a turning point towards protecting the ocean.

Various celebrities and private sector entrepreneurs announced initiatives and activities aimed at conserving our oceans and seas. The film director James Cameron launched film clips of his new film “What Would the Ocean Say?

Before the celebratory morning sessions, FAO, alongside the Governments of Norway, Sweden, Indonesia and Palau, hosted a Port State Measures Agreement event.

The event discussed progress, after one year in which it went into effect, of the world’s first treaty designed to combat illegal fishing. Panelists updated participants on the outcomes of the First Meeting of the Parties to the Port State Measures Agreement and the Ad Hoc Working Group established under Article 21 of the Port State Measures Agreement. You can see the blog posts about this event here and here.

FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva spoke at the event, alongside Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia’s Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Sven-Erik Bucht, Sweden’s Minister for Rural Affairs, Umiich Sengebau, Palau’s Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, and Tone Skogen, Norway’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

FAO’s Director-General reminded participants that “the Port State Measures is a landmark agreement as it endows port states – where vessels land – with powers previously held only by the states whose flag a vessel flies. This is a cost-effective innovation compared to trying to police the open seas for rogue actors.”

Speaking about last week’s meetings in Oslo, the Director-General said, “I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Norway for hosting the First Meeting of the Parties. The outcomes of these meetings define the path forward for implementing the Port State Measures Agreement … Indeed, the Agreement itself requires Parties, FAO and other international organizations to assist the needs of developing countries, and provides for the establishment of funding mechanisms to support the necessary capacity development.”

He noted that FAO has already committed more than $1.5 million from its regular budget as “seed money” for Port State Measures capacity development activities. He also welcomed voluntary commitments to increase funds available for these activities.

Following the event, a bilateral meeting was held between FAO’s Director General and Sweden’s Minister for Rural Affairs, Sven-Erik Bucht. The Director-General expressed his gratitude for a $5.4 million contribution announced that morning by Sweden to support FAO’s activities to combat illegal fishing, including the Port State Measures Agreement and the Global Record of Fishing Vessels.

Speaking about Sweden’s support to FAO, Minister Bucht said, “The Port State Measures Agreement is one of the most important tools for addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Such fishing activities are a threat to marine life and impede the development and prosperity of vulnerable countries. This harmful fishing must be completely stopped.”

Back in Rome, FAO Headquarters celebrated the event by turning its Headquarters blue (you can see our earlier post and the time-lapse film of the ‘blueing’ here), and New York followed suit hours later illuminating the Empire State Building blue.

With all of the high-level events taking place in coming months and increased attention to oceans within the Sustainable Development Agenda, here’s hoping that oceans will be high on the international agenda well beyond World Oceans Day.

FAO’s Director-General with Umiich Sengebau, Palau’s Minister of Natural Resources.
Celebratory events for World Oceans Day.
FAO’s Director-General visits FAO’s exhibition space at the Oceans Conference.
The Director-General interviews with the press on Oceans Day, speaking about how FAO supports countries in achieving the objectives of SDG 14.
In the Plenary Hall.
The Director-General at the FAO Exhibition space at FAO Headquarters.
FAO’s Nicole Franz speaks about Blue Growth and small-scale fisheries during a side event.
Visitors to the FAO exhibition space enjoy the range of films about fishing communities around the world.
FAO’s Blaise Kuemlangan participates in a biodiversity side event, alongside the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD).
FAO exhibition
The FAO Team in New York with the Director-General just before the Port State Measures event.

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