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Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Oceans, seas and coastal areas provide humankind with numerous goods and ecosystem services fundamental to human well-being, global food security and nutrition. They form an integrated and essential component of our planet’s ecosystem and are critical to sustainable development.

Fisheries and aquaculture offer ample opportunities to reduce hunger and improve nutrition, alleviate poverty, generate economic growth and ensure better use of natural resources ‑ areas relevant to multiple goals of the 2030 Agenda.

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food sector and has the potential to produce the fish needed to meet the demand for safe and highly nutritious food by a growing population.

However, overfishing threatens livelihoods, unmanaged expansion of aquaculture can cause pollution, and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributes to ocean acidification.

FAO initiatives focus on promoting good governance, participatory decision-making processes and promoting best practices in fisheries. Aligned with the comprehensive approach to fisheries and aquaculture captured in SDG14, FAO’s Blue Growth Initiative aims at harmonising the environmental, social and economic aspects of living aquatic resources to ensure equitable benefits for communities. It balances growth and conservation, and industrial and small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture.

Blue Growth addresses environmental concerns and offers decent work opportunities to fish farmers, in particular youth, while simultaneously boosting income and nutrition security, and safeguarding natural resources.

Facts and figures

  • Of fish stocks, an estimated 31.4 percent are overfished (fished at a biologically unsustainable level), 58.1 percent are fully fished and 10.5 percent underfished.
  • Fish accounts for about 17 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein and 6.7 percent of all protein consumed. Fish offers a rich source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, calcium, zinc and iron.
  • Fish provided more than 3.1 billion people across the world with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein.
  • The global supply of fish for human consumption has outpaced population growth in the past five decades due in large measure to growth in aquaculture.
  • Some 57 million people are engaged in the primary fish production sectors, a third of them in aquaculture.
  • There are around 4.6 million fishing vessels in the world, 90 percent of which are in Asia and Africa, and only 64,000 of which are 24 metres or longer.

SDG14 Targets

  1. By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.
  2. By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans.
  3. Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels.
  4. By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.
  5. By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.
  6. By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation.
  7. By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.

a. Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries.

b. Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.

c. Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want.

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