Uniting and activating powerful voices for ocean conservation

The Navigator

Welcome to The Navigator!

The Ocean is Everybody’s Business

The Ocean is big business. It’s the world’s 7th largest economy – with a GDP equivalent to US$ 2.5 trillion and its key assets are worth almost 10 times that figure. So, it makes absolutely no sense that we are systematically destroying this precious and lucrative resource by polluting, emptying, boiling and acidifying its waters.

To ensure a healthy Ocean we need to show businesses not only how they may be contributing to the Ocean crisis, but also the role they can play in the solutions. We need to encourage business leadership, especially if political leadership is not forthcoming. For this reason, Ocean Unite launched its initiative “The Ocean is Everybody’s Business” back in February, and now we are launching a website to support this work.

Whether a company’s business activities are linked directly to the Ocean or not, there are many actions that can be taken that will have a direct impact on promoting a healthier, cleaner, safer and more productive Ocean. We are teaming up with major global brands from the tourism, transport, cosmetics and finance sectors, to promote greater business engagement to halt the severe decline in Ocean health. The focus will be on how to change business models to help tackle ocean challenges such as marine plastics pollution and carbon emissions, with climate change being the single biggest factor in the alarming pace of ocean degradation.

Click here to find out more about developing a better business plan to secure a healthy Ocean and how you can encourage companies to embark on a voyage to ocean-friendly their business activities. And if you know of any businesses that want to sign up to this "blue voyage", let us know by dropping a note to Navigator_info@oceanunite.org

Seen from the Lighthouse – what's happening now?   lighthouse

The Ocean Conference – it’s nearly show time!

In less than 2 weeks the long-awaited UN Ocean Conference will begin in New York. The Call for Action is in the process of being finalised – a 2nd round of consultations has taken place and a new version has been released and is currently being discussed in New York.

A couple of issues remain contentious and the wave of change in US environmental policy is becoming increasingly apparent. Firstly, there’s still no agreement on how to refer to the WTO’s ongoing negotiations on eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies. The EU wants to call for a swift conclusion of negotiations (understandable given that this issue has stalled and dragged on for more than 10 years), but others, such as the US, feel this is a step too far. Secondly, the US is trying to water down references to the Paris Agreement on climate – something we are also seeing elsewhere (see update on the Arctic Council below). And apparently, action to fight microplastics is too much for Russia to support without further research. This lack of political will is what you would expect from countries negotiating a "Call for Inaction". That’s why we need to get the message out loud and clear to the politicians, business leaders, and our own circle of friends and family, that we need leadership, commitment and urgent action to protect the Ocean. The final round of consultations will be finishing today (25th May) and a final draft will be ready shortly before the meeting.

schedule of side events (over 150 of them!) are now online; the co-chairs have been appointed for the 7 different Ocean dialogues; information for the participants is online; and the registry of voluntary commitments is starting to fill up – with 229 entries at the latest count. We are also reliably informed that there will be some big announcements about actual, really big, “on the water” protections. Exciting stuff!

Tired of reading all these newsletters and reports, then listen to World Ocean Radio’s overview on what will be happening at the Conference. And look out for next month’s Navigator for a lowdown on what happened at the meeting.

New York goes blue

New York City is also gearing up for an Ocean knees-up! On Sunday the 4th June, the day before the Ocean Conference officially begins, the first World Ocean Festival will take place, including a grand Ocean march.

Between 20th May and 21st June more than 50 amazing wave sculptures, which have been designed by artists, rock stars, models, actors and entrepreneurs, are being displayed all around the city as part of Project O’s Wave Trail, sponsored by La Mer. Click here to download a map of the Wave Walk. These impressive sculptures, measuring about 1.3 metres high, are also up for grabs! Yes – this is your chance to own a seriously cool Ocean artwork (put your bid in now), and the really great thing is that proceeds go towards supporting Ocean conservation projects.

World Environment Day and World Ocean Day

There are a couple of very good excuses to celebrate our planet and the Ocean this June. Firstly, on the 5th June it’s World Environment Day with the theme "Connecting People to Nature" – urging us all to go outside and show that we’re #WithNature. Now that’s an excellent excuse to jump into the water, as if we need one! Then, just a few days later on the 8th June we can jump back in the water again on World Oceans Day. Check out the website to download resources, follow blogs, register your event or find out what is happening near you, and be part of an ever-growing, global, Ocean movement that is calling for greater Ocean protection.

Tuna Meltdown

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is currently holding its annual meeting in Indonesia. For years, environmental campaigners have been frustrated at the continual lack of action and delaying tactics by parties to stop overfishing of tuna and to protect precious marine life in the region. Two key problems fuel this overfishing. First is the ever increasing use of fish aggregating devices (FADs). These are artificial floating objects (anchored or drifting) – placed in the Ocean by fishers – that fish and other Ocean critters like to hang out around. Purse seine fisheries profit from this behaviour trait by netting whole schools of fish including “under-age” fish and other marine life such as turtles and sharks. The second problem is transshipment at sea, which makes it easy for IUU fishers to offload their contraband catch away from the scrutiny of port authorities.

This year the Commission will discuss improving the yellowfin stock rebuilding measure as well as proposals to reduce the number of FADs each vessel can use and a phase out of supply vessels that carry all the extra FADs that help purse seiners hunt for tuna. A number of other important proposals will be discussed relating to IUU fishing, driftnets, discards and better protection for sharks and rays. You can see all the proposals and the NGO statements here. Let’s hope that this year parties will stop faffing around and get on with the job of ensuring sustainable, science-based management.

There’s good reason to look after this resource. Tuna accounts for US$ 42.2 billion in retail sales annually. But its increasing popularity is placing huge pressure on stocks, with Pacific bluefin teetering on the edge of extinction and Indian Ocean skipjack tuna, which is found on supermarket shelves all over the world, poised to go from green to red in 2017 unless measures are taken to prevent overfishing.

Hopefully, initiatives like the recently celebrated first ever official World Tuna Day on the 2nd May, the announcement that all Aussie tuna brands are FAD-free, and the Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration, will help raise awareness further, support the actions of groups that are working hard to prevent a worldwide tuna meltdown, and spotlight those states that are blocking progress to prevent overfishing at bodies such as the IOTC.

Parties of new Port States Measures Treaty to hold first meeting

From the 29th–31st May in Oslo, Norway, the first meeting of the parties to the UN Port State Measures Agreement to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU fishing will take place. The agreement finally came into force last June and now, with the recent announcement that Montenegro and Japan – one of the top importers of seafood – have ratified the agreement, the number of official parties stands at 48. Woo-hoo!

This agreement is a very important weapon in the fight against the multibillion-dollar business of illegal fishing. It aims to unite governments in stopping IUU fishers offloading their contraband at ports through increased inspection in ports and the refusal of port entry or access to port services including the landing, transshipment, processing and packaging of seafood. After the hard work of negotiating and getting the necessary number of ratifications, the even harder work of implementing the agreement begins. The recent announcement that Japan has joined with the US and EU, so that the world’s 3 largest consumer markets for seafood are now onboard, gives an extra boost to banishing illegal fishing.

This meeting will see how countries (port states and flag states) and RFMOs and other organizations are faring in starting to implement the treaty. Want to find out more about what this means on a practical level? Check out this Port States Measures Agreement Implementation toolkit.

waves

Waves on the Horizon – what's coming up?

Heavy fuel oil ban in the Arctic up for discussion

The US and Canada, along with Iceland, Norway, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands, have urged the next meeting of the International Maritime Organizations's (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee in July 2017 to begin work on mitigating the risks of heavy fuel oil (HFO) use by ships in the Arctic. Earlier this year, in March, the European Parliament broadly supported this move by adopting its call for a ban on the use of HFO in Arctic waters.

The use of HFO by all vessels is currently prohibited in the Antarctic, but not yet in the Arctic, despite awareness that a leak of this dirty and polluting fossil fuel would wreak havoc on the icy environment and be nigh on impossible to clear up. Environmental NGO members of the Clean Arctic Alliance have been calling on the IMO, as the specialist body responsible for international shipping, to ban HFO use in the Arctic by 2020, and to urge the shipping industry to switch to higher quality, alternative fuels before the ban is in place.

Political momentum is increasing within the IMO, but passive support by parties is not enough. As July approaches, more IMO member states need to step forward and lend their voices to the growing numbers calling for an Arctic phase out of HFO. To stay on top of the latest news follow @HFOFreeArctic.

EU needs to step up efforts to implement sustainable fisheries policies

A report released just a few weeks ago by the European Commission highlighted that fisheries-control regulations in the EU are still not being adequately implemented and “more needs to be done to fully implement certain provisions,” according to EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

EU member states seem to be continuing to ignore scientific advice, granting quotas to industrial fishing fleets far above the scientifically recommended levels. And despite a ban on discards, fishing vessels are still throwing fish back into the sea, dead or dying. The fishing industry is locked in an absurd race to catch as much fish as possible, for maximum profit. This is short-term thinking, and if it continues will mean the further demise of both Europe’s fish stocks and the fishing industry.

This continued depletion of European fish stocks is already affecting fish populations, and also sections of the fishing industry throughout EU member states, especially small-scale fishers. To ensure sustainable sources of fish for the future, Our Fisha new campaign that launched last month focusing on the effective implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, believes that European citizens must hold both industry and governments to account. Learn more about what you can do at http://our.fish/ and follow the campaign on Twitter at @our_fishClick here for a forward-looking calendar

reflections

Ocean Reflections – a look back at what's been happening

US’s new climate change stance spotlighted at Arctic Council Ministerial

Amid high media scrutiny and the backdrop of the recent announcement by the Trump administration that it is lifting the oil drilling ban in the Arctic and Atlantic, the new US secretary of State and ex-Exxon boss Rex Tillerson handed over the Charimanship reins to Finland at the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Fairbanks. Although there was no announcement that the US were pulling out of the Paris Agreement (yet), a leaked draft revealed that the US had pushed hard to water down climate change references in the Fairbanks Declaration.

At the meeting Tillerson cautioned that the US is reviewing several important policies, including climate change, and that it won’t be rushed into a decision. Maybe analysis from a new report that found meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement would cut sea level rise by over 20cm globally, saving trillions of dollars of potential damage to infrastructure, will help the new Administration make the right decision.

The meeting also adopted a 3rd binding agreement on enhancing Arctic scientific cooperation, agreed to deliver a long-term strategic plan for the Council by 2019, and announced the launch of a new Arctic shipping database. Seven new observers were welcomed to the Council.

WWF released its scorecard on how well Arctic Council countries have been implementing their commitments relating to biodiversity and conservation. As might be expected there were no "straight-A students" – while some countries have been making some progress, national implementation has generally been poor. The scorecard will be updated every 2 years.

The first meeting of Senior Arctic Officials during the Finnish Chairmanship will take place in late October 2017 in Oulu, Finland.

US’s new climate change stance spotlighted at Arctic Council Ministerial

Amid high media scrutiny and the backdrop of the recent announcement by the Trump administration that it is lifting the oil drilling ban in the Arctic and Atlantic, the new US secretary of State and ex-Exxon boss Rex Tillerson handed over the Charimanship reins to Finland at the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Fairbanks. Although there was no announcement that the US were pulling out of the Paris Agreement (yet), a leaked draft revealed that the US had pushed hard to water down climate change references in the Fairbanks Declaration.

At the meeting Tillerson cautioned that the US is reviewing several important policies, including climate change, and that it won’t be rushed into a decision. Maybe analysis from a new report that found meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement would cut sea level rise by over 20cm globally, saving trillions of dollars of potential damage to infrastructure, will help the new Administration make the right decision.

The meeting also adopted a 3rd binding agreement on enhancing Arctic scientific cooperation, agreed to deliver a long-term strategic plan for the Council by 2019, and announced the launch of a new Arctic shipping database. Seven new observers were welcomed to the Council.

WWF released its scorecard on how well Arctic Council countries have been implementing their commitments relating to biodiversity and conservation. As might be expected there were no "straight-A students" – while some countries have been making some progress, national implementation has generally been poor. The scorecard will be updated every 2 years.

The first meeting of Senior Arctic Officials during the Finnish Chairmanship will take place in late October 2017 in Oulu, Finland.

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