UNCED, Agenda 21 and responsible fisheries
Agenda 21 is important for fisheries development
Agenda 21 was elaborated and adopted during the UN Conference on Environment and Development called on by the General Assembly resolution 44/228 of 22 December 1989 and held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Confronted with a "perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which human beings depend for their wellbeing", the States participating in UNCED realized and formally agreed that a global partnership for sustainable development was required for "integration of environment and development concerns" and that "greater attention to them was needed in order to fulfil basic needs, improve living standards, better protect and manage ecosystems and prepare a safer and more prosperous future".
Agenda 21 addressed the pressing problems of the early 1990s and aimed at preparing the world for the challenges of the following century. It reflected a global consensus and political commitment at the highest level on development and environment cooperation. Its successful implementation is the responsibility of Governments underlining the importance of national strategies, plans, policies and processes. The UN agencies, international cooperation, regional and sub-regional organisations, non-governmental organisations and a broad public participation were also called upon or encouraged to contribute to the effort. A substantial flow of additional financial resources to developing countries was requested as well as a special attention to the economies in transition.
Importance for fisheries
The programme areas in Agenda 21 are described in terms of the basis for action, objectives, activities and means of implementation. Agenda 21 is subdivided in 4 sections and 40 Chapters, most of which are somewhat relevant for fisheries.
Section I : Social and economic dimensions (Chapters 2 to 8) addresses the international co-operation needed for sustainable development, combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, understanding demographic dynamics and sustainability as well as improving human health, human settlements, and decision making. While not referring explicitly to fisheries, these chapters deal with issues of relevance to sustainable development of fisheries.
Section II : Conservation and management of resources for development contains the chapters of more direct relevance to fisheries. Chapter 9, Protection of the Atmosphere, is relevant in relation to exhausts fumes and ozone-depletion gases used for fish refrigeration on fishing vessels of land-based plants. Chapter 10, Integrated approach to the planning and management of land resources, contains principles relevant to the integration of aquaculture, agriculture and rural development. Chapter 11, Combating deforestation, addresses the negative impact of deforestation on the quality of inland and coastal aquatic systems. Chapter 12, Managing fragile ecosystems: combating desertification and drought, is important for areas in which small scale inland fisheries and aquaculture are a significant source of food security and water resources are highly variable or dwindling. Chapter 13, Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development and Chapter 14, Promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development, are both important (together with Chapter 10) for the integrated development of agriculture and aquaculture. Chapter 15, Conservation of biological diversity is obviously important for fisheries which aim at sustainable of biological diversity but have a number of effects which could potentially threaten it. Chapter 16, Environmentally sound biotechnology, is relevant because of the potential of biotechnology for improved food security and protection of the environment as well as for the possible negative impacts of genetic manipulations (e.g. in aquaculture).
Chapter 17 deals specifically with protection of the oceans
Courtesy of NOAA/Dr.J.P.McVey
Chapter 17: Protection of the oceans, all kinds of seas, including enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, and coastal areas and the protection, rational use and development of their living resources is central to marine fisheries and aquaculture and deals with (a) Integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas, including exclusive economic zones; (b) Marine environmental protection; (c) Sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources of the high seas; (d) Sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources under national jurisdiction; (e) Addressing critical uncertainties for the management of the marine environment and climate change; (f) Strengthening international, including regional, co-operation and co-ordination; and (g) Sustainable development of small islands. Chapter 18, Protection of the quality and supply of freshwater resources: application of integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources, is alo important because inland water resources condition the quantity and quality of the aquatic life and resources which provide the basis for fisheries. Finally, Chapters 19 to 21, dealing respectively with toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes, solid wastes, and radioactive wastes, and their management, are relevant in view of the serious impacts from various land-based activities on aquatic habitat, resources, and fisheries. While the aspects of importance to inland fisheries and aquaculture are spread in most chapters of section II, practically the aspects relevant for marine fisheries are all contained in Chapter 17.
Section III : Strengthening the role of major groups contains important guidance when considering the improvement of governance needed for an effective transition to more sustainable fisheries, particularly in the chapters concerning women, indigenous people, NGOs, local authorities, trade unions, industry, and the scientific community.
Section IV : Means of implementation addresses one of the major issues of Agenda 21 including financial resources, technology transfer, science for sustainable development , education, public awareness and training, capacity building in developing countries, international institutions, international legal instruments, and information for decision-making . While these chapters do not refer to fisheries in particular they reflect practically all the issues met in trying to rationalise the fisheries sector during the last decade.
The Principles and requirements contained in the 1992 Rio declaration and Agenda 21, together with the provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea have provided the basis for the development of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.