Ocean Summit: ‘Action for healthier oceans starts today’

We will need to take unorthodox steps to tackle overfishing, climate change and pollution of the oceans. Governments, business leaders and NGOs from 80 countries commit themselves to firm agreements. In addition, ten partnerships were announced. We have the solutions for sustainable fisheries and blue growth in our own hands and now it is a matter of putting this into action on a global scale, and this action starts today.

This is the final conclusion of the Global Oceans Action Summit after a week of high level roundtable discussions in The Hague.

From courage to action

Dutch Minister for Agriculture and chair of the summit, Sharon Dijksma, said about the result: "This week the world didn’t just show courage; it showed especially that’s it’s ready for action to tackle overfishing, climate change and pollution. That is exactly what the world needs right now, as only then will fish and healthy oceans still be able to provide for hundreds of millions of people after 2030.”

Results from the Summit:

  • The only way to end the war of attrition at sea is to stop overfishing and to eliminate overcapacity
  • From now on, subsidies should be used for sustainable fisheries only;
  • Illegal fisheries must be banned, and we need regional agreements with businesses to achieve this;
  • Accelerating ratification of agreed mechanisms for improved fisheries practices to make the fisheries sector more sustainable, and tackling pollution;
  • A stronger recognition of the impact of climate change on the oceans is crucial;
  • The oceans must be a special focus in the United Nations Sustainability Objectives.

Cross-boundary partnerships

At the summit more than ten new commitments for public-private partnerships were entered into, leading to action in many places around the world. Today the following partnerships will be announced:

  • Mauritius, the Seychelles and the labelling non-profit organisation Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) will start working at certification of fish species and sustainable fisheries in the Indian Ocean;
  • Conservation International will further develop the Ocean Health Index with partners;
  • Rockefeller Foundation and the Netherlands pledging funding support of 250,000 euros to WorldFish and FAO to produce a Roadmap for the Future of Fish.
  • Together with the Netherlands, the WNF will start working on a study into the effectiveness of international ‘Marine protected areas’.

The Netherlands had already announced it is going to work together with Indonesia to prevent fish wastage, and with Grenada to protect the coral. There are also partnerships to better exchange the available data and to promote the recovery of fish populations.

John Kerry follows up on agreements

US Secretary of State John Kerry will organise the next summit in June 2014 and is therefore following up on agreements made in The Hague. This summit was co-organised by the World Bank, the FAO and the governments of Grenada, Indonesia, Mauritius, Norway and the United States.

FAO and World Bank

Árni M. Mathiesen – Assistant Director-General of the FAO said: “This Summit has put an accent on action and the route to navigate on oceans, fisheries management and aquaculture is much clearer than before.”
World Bank representative Valerie Hickey said: “This Summit has presented the way forward for a new type of growth – blue growth which is sustainable, equitable and takes the value of the ocean’s ecosystem services into account. Together, we can restore ocean health at the speed and scale necessary to drive broad-based blue growth, secure food security and turn down the heat on climate change. We have the set of actions needed – let’s move on them now.”