Thank you for subscribing, Please scroll down to check out this month’s Navigator.
WELCOME TO THE NAVIGATOR!
We’ve entered a new season since the last issue of The Navigator but many peoples’ lives are still adrift. Depending where you live you may be lucky enough to have been untouched by the COVID-19 crisis or be already moving forward to the post-pandemic phase, others are still living with the threat. Whereever we live we are united by the Ocean – and it’s time to celebrate it by rising up together.
8th June is World Oceans Day (WOD) and even though physical gatherings are off the table, we can still come together and keep the momentum for Ocean action alive. We’re excited about the first online WOD and hope you will join the Virtual Ocean Dialogues and Ocean innovation webinars to hear from leading marine experts and inspirational voices. The Ocean is our ally for recovery and though WOD 2020 will be virtual, the challenges are more real than ever – but, luckily, so are the opportunities for change.
Happy World Oceans Day!
SEEN FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE –
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
World Oceans Day without borders – sign-up, join in, get onboard!
World Oceans Day is on 8th June – but don’t wait until then to get with the program or you’ll miss the boat. The good thing about a virtual WOD is that there are no borders. Everyone can participate from anywhere in the world – even in your PJs and nobody will know! It’s a chance to interact with the world’s top Ocean experts without leaving your own home and deepen calls for 30% Ocean protection by 2030. So, what’s on?
First up are the Virtual Ocean Dialogues hosted by the World Economic Forum and Friends of Ocean Action from 1st-5th June. Over 5 days there will be 5 deep dive panel debates on each of the 3 central themes – restoring Ocean life, the sustainable blue economy and looking beyond the Ocean – as well as side events on Antarctica, Ocean risk and other key challenges. Open to everyone, these interactive virtual dialogues will connect communities and leaders from across the global Ocean space and maintain momentum for urgent Ocean action in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Check-out the agenda and register here.
The Explorers Club is also presenting their 4th annual World Oceans Week that will kick off on 7th June and it will comprise 6 days of extraordinary Ocean related programs streamed globally. They will kick off the event with an exciting 2 hour global “expedition” around the 5 Oceans, followed by a virtual scuba dive in Palau in partnership with The Hydrous. The week will continue with presentations featuring sharks, big ideas, wildlife, 21st century aquariums, and sustainable seafood – and some of our Ocean Unite Network members will be virtually present, including Dr. Sylvia Earle, and Ashlan and Philippe Cousteau. You’ll find more information on The Explorers Club website in the next few days, stay tuned!
Next, on 8th June itself, tune in to the webinar on “Investing in Innovation and Blue Nature” co-hosted by Credit Suisse, Ocean Unite, Responsible Investor. With a keynote from the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, speakers will explore initiatives supporting the ambition of protecting 30% of the Ocean by 2030, the science behind regenerating marine biodiversity, why Ocean resilience is a sound investment, and the critical need for the involvement of the financial and investor communities. Find out more and sign-up for free here.
Also on 8th June, the United Nations (UN) is kicking off its World Ocean Week of celebrations with an all-day livestreamed event featuring keynote speakers, panels, and presentations on 2020’s WOD theme, Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean. The goal is to celebrate dynamic, hopeful new methods, ideas and inventions that can instil optimism and pave new paths forward for the health of our Ocean and our planet. Find more details about events during UN World Oceans Week here. 30×30 will also be a key theme for World Oceans Day, with over 70 virtual events happening which you can find out about on the World Oceans Day website.
Progress disappointing for UN Sustainable Development Goal 14
Last week the UN Secretary General released his yearly report on the progress of reaching the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting a “continued unevenness of progress”. In the section related to the Ocean Sustainable Development Goal 14, progress was summarized as: “Oceans and fisheries continue to support the global population’s economic, social and environmental needs, while suffering unsustainable depletion, environmental deterioration and CO2 saturation and acidification. Current efforts to protect key marine environments, small-scale fishers and invest in Ocean science are not yet meeting the urgent needs to protect this vast, fragile resource.” That’s not a glowing progress report.
Take Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.4: “By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing”. Now, nearly half–way through 2020, it is abundantly clear that this deadline will be missed and another 2020 deadline has slipped through the net. The UN Secretary-General laments that the “sustainability of global fishery resources continues to decline.”
A clear case of missing the boat in terms of achieving this target is the EU, with a new report by the New Economics Foundation sharply highlighting the chronic failures by the EU to reign in overfishing and set quotas within safe biological limits. The Landing the Blame study estimates that the EU have overfished 8.78 million tonnes of fish during the last 20 years, and ranks Spain, Ireland, Portugal, The Netherlands and Germany top of “Overfishing League Table” for the highest percentage of quotas above scientifically advised levels, while the UK, Denmark and Spain gained the most in terms of excess tonnage. The New Economics Foundation and Our Fish are now calling on the EU and its Member States to include ending overfishing in their climate laws, as protecting the Ocean provides us “with the best protection against climate change”. The 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns could also be a chance to make progress in ending overfishing as well as ending harmful fisheries subsidies. Sign the petition demanding the EU end overfishing here.
COVID-19 crisis leaves fisheries stranded
Tens of millions of people are employed in the fishing sector, the vast majority in small-scale operations, providing income and food for hundreds of millions more, but now – from Norway to Thailand, Alaska to West Africa – the pandemic is a causing a crisis on multiple fronts. Vessels are stuck in ports; restaurant closures are cratering demand and prices; and FAO warns that “fishers and fish workers – particularly women who operate in the post-harvest sector – face the biggest challenges with loss of income, lower wages, [and] risk of contagion.” So, while fish may be flourishing under lockdown, fishermen are floundering.
India’s 16 million fishers are looking to a precarious future after the entire supply chain was disrupted by the nationwide lockdown, leaving thousands of migrant fishers stranded. In last month’s Navigator we reported on the tragic death and suspected murder of a Kiribati fishery observer in the South Pacific who lost his life while trying to combat IUU fishing. The quarantines, border closures and risk of infection is creating unique challenges for the fishing industry everywhere. According to Global Fishing Watch, global fishing activity is down nearly 10% (based on 2018-2019 average) since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11th. These figures primarily represent changes in activity for the world’s industrial fleet – fishing vessels over 24 metres.
Going forward, governments will need to strike a balance between supporting workers and communities dependent on thriving fisheries and taking the opportunity of this unplanned fishing pause to build back a more sustainable fishing sector in the post-COVID-19 era.
OCEAN SIGNALS– SHORT OCEAN ANNOUNCEMENTS
WAVES ON THE HORIZON –
WHAT'S COMING UP?
What happens now? A world emerging from COVID-19
As countries and cities begin to emerge nervously from unprecedented lockdowns of their people and economies the big question is: where do we go from here? With nearly half the global workforce in immediate danger of being unemployed and multiple SDGs at risk of being reversed, there is a real threat of a rapid rise in global poverty and the urgency to act for sustainable development is greater than ever. The UN and other international organizations are alert to this threat and are issuing stark warnings that the world has a critical choice: either seize this moment as a catalyst to build back better or rush to prop up the same dirty, unsustainable and unjust industries and systems that threaten to make our planet unliveable. As the President of ECOSOC recently stressed, the pandemic has “put a spotlight on the need to strengthen multilateral cooperation, governance, and above all global solidarity” and though “we are currently tossing and turning through dangerous waters”, the SDGs are “our chart to see us through the storm.” Will a global pandemic be enough to make us see sense?
It remains to be seen if the COVID-19 crisis – which has temporarily cut carbon emissions and cleared the air in the world’s cities – will spur a lasting green recovery. Much will depend on whether the massive investments earmarked re-start economies and avert recession are used to promote low-carbon solutions and sectors. Addressing the twin problems of the global economic downturn and climate change, a new study from Oxford University warns that “the recovery packages can either kill these two birds with one stone – setting the global economy on a pathway towards net-zero emissions – or lock us into a fossil system from which it will be nearly impossible to escape.” European Commission VP Frans Timmermans is hoping for the former, saying that not a single Euro should be spent propping up old, dirty industries. Seventeen Environment Ministers from EU Member States agree and are calling for nations to “work together in solidarity to build the bridge between fighting COVID-19, biodiversity loss and climate change.” They hope that a legacy of the COVID-19 tragedy will be a stronger European Green Deal Investment Plan to boost green recovery and a just transition.
As ever, we must not forget the Ocean. Marine industries – shipping, fishing, tourism, ports – have all been hugely impacted by the pandemic and face big decisions. It’s vital that the post-pandemic recovery is blue as well as green. A collaboration of NGOs have issued a proposal for ‘Setting the right safety net: A framework for fisheries support policies in response to COVID-19’ that lists 10 principles to ensure recovery measures aid the path towards a healthier fishing sector and marine environment. Supporting sustainable fisheries is also one of 8 ways to rebuild a stronger Ocean economy after COVID-19 put forward, that also includes bluer tourism, cutting shipping emissions and expanding Ocean parks. Whether on land or sea, we are at a crossroads – let’s show 2020 vision and choose our next steps wisely.
And over 250 organisations from around the world are Rising-Up together with a clear prescription for Ocean health in a COVID and post-COVID world. Ocean Unite and our partner Virgin Unite will be running a blog series through June focusing on some of the work happening around the world to help RISE UP. Watch this space to read more about the RISE UP movement.
A LOOK BACK AT WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING
EU Biodiversity Strategy released
After months of delay, the European Commission last week presented its long-awaited Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 entitled” Bringing Nature back into our lives”. This Strategy adopted in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis is one of its 2 landmark strategies for the European Green Deal and is seen as a central element of the EU’s recovery plan.
The 10 year Strategy builds on “what has worked in the past” and sets ambitious and much needed objectives including committing to protect at least 30% on land and in the Ocean, with 1/3 to be under strict protection. Having such a powerful bloc of 27 countries behind the ambitious target is great news for the 30×30 campaign and it’s a key milestone towards getting a strong global deal for nature at the next UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Conference which has now been delayed until 2021.
Campaigners working on Antarctica were also pleased with the recommendation that “The EU should also use all of its diplomatic leverage and outreach capacities to help broker agreement on the designation of 3 vast Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean”. The strategy also committed to cut chemical pesticide use by 50% and fertilizer use by 20% over 10 years, which will also have a very positive impact on the Ocean. And recognizing that action is only possible if there is sufficient funding, the EU has pledged 20 billion euros per year for nature.
The Strategy has been cautiously welcomed by campaigners, but as we have learned the hard way in the past, we hope this is not just lip service to ambition, but will be reflected throughout all the EU’s other policies (see section below on EU and overfishing), and results in real action that ensures the EU meets its goals in 2030. Click here for a handy Biodiversity Strategy Q&A.
Can we build back better and bluer? Reflection and hope on Earth Day
It’s not the way anyone wanted this to happen, but on Earth Day 2020 – 50 years after the first Earth Day in 1970 – the side-effects of the pandemic offer a glimpse of alternative future. Economic shutdown has cut pollution, brought wildlife into our cities, given millions of people in India their first view of the Himalayas, and and set oil prices plunging. And crucially, as the head of the NRDC noted, “the pandemic has shown people will change their behaviour if it’s for the health of their families. This has been the lost message on climate, that it’s a human problem.” Human activities and the destructive relationship between humanity and the natural world drive the interrelated climate, species extinction and health crises: we need solutions based on caring for nature. So will Earth Day 2020 be the day we stop taking the planet for granted? One thing’s for sure, “the pandemic provides unequivocal evidence of the dire consequences of government ignoring science.” If just we learn just 1 lesson from this unprecedented period, we need science more than ever and listening to experts would not be a bad place to start.
A month after Earth Day, on 22nd May, Biodiversity Day delivered another chance to reflect on the power of nature – to heal and to harm. It’s sobering to recall that we have lost 60% of all wildlife in the last 50 years while the number of new infectious diseases has quadrupled. The circle of life encompassing biodiversity, the climate and ourselves is clearly spiralling in the wrong direction for a healthy future. But the theme for Biodiversity Day 2020 was one of hope: our solutions are in nature and together we will Build Back Better. That also means “Build Back Bluer” – and a new Blue Paper issued by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Economy, that proposes 5 priority opportunities for coordinated action to reverse Ocean biodiversity loss and support ecosystem services, can help guide the way. One of these 5 opportunities is to implement well-enforced, green-listed MPAs covering 30–40% of key marine habitats to conserve biodiversity, enhance abundance of marine life and improve the resilience of marine ecosystems. This chimes with the 30×30 goal and would get a major boost from a game-changing new High Seas Treaty and the expansion of marine protection in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica – 2 of the key items on the Ocean wish-list for 2020.