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WELCOME TO THE NAVIGATOR!
It’s nearly the end of 2019 – and the last Navigator of the year – which means it’s time to get ready for 2020, the Ocean “super year” we’ve been talking about all these months. This is when the needle needs to really move for marine protection. For us that has meant launching our 30×30 Ocean Vision and joining the global movement pressing for at least 30% of our Ocean and land to be safeguarded by 2030.
We must protect the Ocean like it is part of our family, with networks of safe havens where sea life can recover. It’s the scientifically recommended – and frankly one of the most effective things we can do to fight the climate and extinction crises threatening life on our beautiful planet. Because that’s what we need to do in 2020: fight for our lives. Decisions we make now determine whether we will be on course to effectively combat these crises.
A series of key global political meetings – on a new High Seas Treaty, 10-year biodiversity targets, Antarctic marine protection, deep-sea mining and more – will be taking place throughout 2020 and we ALL need to work together to push for bold, transformative decisions and make 30×30 a reality. The Navigator is excited about the new decade and geared up to kick it off with a truly super Ocean year. Read on for the many ways you can get on board.
SEEN FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE –
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
Launching the #Love30x30 Ocean Vision
We have liftoff! Ocean Unite is thrilled to be unleashing its 30×30 call to action to safeguard at least 30% of the Ocean by 2030. The goal is to mobilize governments, citizens, scientists, NGOs and businesses around the urgent need to create a network of highly protected Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) where no destructive or extractive activities – such as fishing or mining – can take place. Protecting 30% of our Ocean by 2030 is the minimum that scientists say is needed to build the resilience of Ocean life to global heating and buffer it from other threats. Today just 2.2% of the Ocean is strongly protected. We have our work cut out to get to 30% in just 10 years – but if we all spread the #Love30x30 Ocean Vision it can be done! A new Ocean Unite 30×30 webpage was launched on 21st November, including a powerful film featuring Sir David Attenborough, Sir Richard Branson and actress Shailene Woodley, and a list of practical ways that everyone can take action: on the water, on the streets, and in the corridors of power. Please join us and share the #Love30x30 call and our latest film on social media and ask your government to raise their ambition and make 30×30 a reality.
This kind of transformational change can only be achieved through a global movement of partners and mass public support. The 30×30 Ocean Vision is part of the wider Campaign for Nature movement actively calling for the formal adoption of the 30×30 target – encompassing both land and sea – into the post-2020 global biodiversity framework that will be agreed by governments at the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, in October 2020. A Thematic Workshop was just held by the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal from 11th-15th November to discuss marine targets. It’s a start – but getting the 30×30 target into the post-2020 framework is far from a done deal. Nature is angry and people are angry at the continued apathy, destruction, and failure to listen to what scientists, Indigenous peoples, Small Island States leaders, and impacted communities everywhere have been saying for years: governments need to sign up to a genuine Global Deal for Nature to protect life on our planet.
But sometimes a little festive cheer is just what the marine biology doctor ordered – especially when it comes in the form of an illuminated 5 metre whale that blows bubbles. That’s what visitors to London’s Carnaby Street are being treated to right now – thanks to a dazzling collaboration with 30×30 supporter Project Zero – as its Christmas lights are immersing the street in an underwater wonderland, including a floating kelp forest, bright pink corals and hammerhead sharks, to drive home the urgent #OneOceanOnePlanet message. This season we all need to get ready to supercharge Ocean protection in 2020.
Madrid to the rescue: COP25 is on – but how blue will it be?
The Government of Chile is getting ready to welcome participants to the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) taking place from 2nd-13th December in Madrid. No, that’s not a mistake. We all gasped last month when civil unrest in Chile forced President Piñera to cancel the eagerly-anticipated “Blue COP” in Santiago. Just one day later, Spain’s acting Prime Minister proposed that the conference take place in Madrid, under the Presidency of Chile with logistical support from the Government of Spain. A generous offer, and a brave one. COPs are usually planned for at least 2 years. The Spanish capital has had just 4 weeks to get ready to receive 25,000 people from 200 countries – including, hopefully, youth activist Greta Thunberg, who is currently hitching a ride back across the Atlantic on a 48 foot catamaran.
The big question is whether the Blue COP keeps the focus on the Ocean despite the impromptu move to Spain. This could not be more vital. Earlier this month, over 11,000 scientists issued another stark warning about “untold suffering due to climate crisis”, declaring a climate emergency and calling for major transformations in global society. The Ocean is key to fighting this crisis and central to the COP25 mandate to advance implementation of the Paris Agreement. Keep track of COP25 events at the official Blue Zone in Madrid.
WTO fisheries subsidies talks – can the new chair reel in a deal?
The future of the world’s fisheries and the credibility of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are both on the line with just weeks to go before the end-2019 deadline to finally reach a global deal to end harmful fisheries subsidies. It’s time to pull out all the stops – including ramping up the public pressure in key capital cities. That’s what many of the frustrated WTO delegates are reported to want. Hopes were raised when months of political wrangling finally ended with the appointment of a new chair – Colombia’s Ambassador Santiago Wills – on 8th November, who warned: “The world is watching what we do here and we simply cannot afford to fail both the health of the oceans and the credibility of this organization.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by WTO chief Roberto Azevedo in a statement on 21st November, World Fisheries Day, calling on states to swiftly agree binding action on subsidies before the damage becomes irreparable, imploring them not to “let the world’s fish and the world’s people down.” He wants a quick ban, but that’s not WTO’s style. These talks have been stumbling on for decades and in the meantime we’re running out of fish. A new study has also reported that capacity-enhancing fisheries subsidies still amount to $22.2 billion a year – with China, the EU, USA, Republic of Korea and Japan the worst offenders. These subsidies create tensions between competing fishermen and nations and fund the ongoing destruction of the natural world says Sir David Attenborough in a no-holds-barred video message calling for a deal. But will all these pleas be enough?
Deep divisions remain on the best approach. Many agree that meeting the end of 2019 is now virtually impossible – or at the very least a Herculean task. The WTO ministerial conference in June 2020 is now being touted as a potential new target date. It’s hard to believe, but these faltering fishy talks behind closed doors in Geneva are the biggest ongoing negotiations in the whole of the WTO. Their failure would be yet another nail in the coffin of effective multilateralism, as well as a disaster for global fish stocks. The next talks are set for 4th December – and maybe the new Chair will surprise us all and net a deal. We can all help him out by turning up the heat on our own governments at home.
OCEAN SIGNALS– SHORT OCEAN ANNOUNCEMENTS
WAVES ON THE HORIZON –
WHAT'S COMING UP?
New year, new rules: shipping sets its cap at cleaner fuel
The shipping industry will ring in the new decade with a breath of fresh(er) air when new cleaner fuel standards for shipping take effect globally on 1st January 2020. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2020 sulphur cap is good news for fans of breathing and multilateralism, and proof that it is possible for industries to take responsibility – although we should remember that it has taken them 10 years to get there! The cap means the shipping industry – which carries 90% of all global trade – is slashing sulfur oxide (SOx) pollution on a massive scale, a change in the method of powering ships that has been compared to the scale of the shift from coal to oil a century ago. SOx damages human health and can cause acid rain, harming crops, forests and aquatic species as well as contributing to Ocean acidification. Reducing SOx also reduces the toxic particulate matter released when fuel is burnt and, according to a Finnish study, implementing the 2020 Sulphur Cap will mean about 570,000 fewer premature deaths caused by the air pollution from ships worldwide between 2020-2025. That’s absolutely something to celebrate this New Year – but it doesn’t let the shipping industry off the hook on carbon emissions. Given this week’s UN Environment Emissions Gap Report, it is even more critical for the shipping sector to do more and act quickly to leave carbon emissions in its wake (see below).
Davos 2020 – WEF turns 50 at critical crossroads
From 21st-24th January, the World Economic Forum will host its 50th Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on the theme: ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’. The aim of this Alpine gathering of 3,000 participants from around the world is to assist governments and international institutions to track progress towards the Paris Agreement and the SDGs and facilitate discussions on technology and trade governance. To mark the 50th anniversary and recognize the critical crossroads we face, the meeting will also develop a Davos Manifesto 2020 to reimagine the purpose and scorecards for companies and governments. You can watch live Davos webcasts and get more details and updates here.
Frozen 200 – an Antarctic anniversary
On 28th January, 2020 it will be 200 years since the discovery of Antarctica by Russian explorer Fabian von Bellingshausen and the whole anniversary year is a prime chance to shine the spotlight on protecting the region – including the Southern Ocean that surrounds it. Antarctica may be the frozen continent but, like the rest of the planet, it’s heating up and scientists and many governments are calling for a network of large MPAs to build resilience to our fast-changing climate and make a huge contribution to the 30×30 goal.
If we come together to protect the Southern Ocean, Antarctica can once again become a shining symbol of the power of countries working together for the common good, says Antarctica2020 champion and Director of the Jacques Delors Institute in Brussels, Geneviève Pons. But this is far from a fait accompli. Just a few weeks ago, the 26 members of the commission charged with conserving Antarctic marine life – CCAMLR – failed to agree to protect 1 million km2 of East Antarctica for the 8th time, seriously undermining the group’s credibility – again. But we will not let it go! Next year must be lucky number 9. In January, extreme swimmer Lewis Pugh is making the point as only he can: with a swim across a supra-glacial lake in East Antarctica. Along with the rest of the Antarctica2020 team, he will be piling on the polar pressure to overturn obstruction – namely from China and Russia – and win the prize of CCAMLR finally agreeing MPA proposals that will guarantee protection of the Southern Ocean to around 7 million km2 in 2020. No other 200th anniversary present for Antarctica will do.
A LOOK BACK AT WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING
Paris Peace Forum – scaling up global governance on Antarctica and High Seas
The High Seas Alliance (HSA), Ocean Unite and Antarctica2020 all participated at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum from 11th-13th November, joining world leaders and decision-makers at an event aimed at raising global governance to the top of the international agenda. The Antarctica2020 initiative to build support for protecting more than 7 million km2 of Antarctic waters by 2020 was selected last year as one of the Forum’s 10 “scale-up projects” for 2019, and has been working closely with the Paris Peace Forum to help drive Southern Ocean protection forward. This year was another boost for the campaign for a healthy Ocean as the High Seas Alliance’s work to protect half the planet through a strong High Seas Treaty was chosen as a scale-up project and will work closely with the Paris Peace Forum team from now and throughout 2020. With the final treaty negotiating session in March-April 2020 rapidly approaching, and new and multiple Ocean threats emerging, it is vital to seize this once in a generation opportunity for transformative change for the Ocean. HSA used the Paris Peace Forum to amplify their call to action to world leaders and stress that the UN treaty process must not institutionalize the status quo but result in real legal protection for High Seas marine life. After decades of discussions it is time for high ambitions for the High Seas.
Going slow at IMO – states hit the brakes on cutting ship speed
The IMO Maritime Environmental Protection Committee International working group on GHG emissions met in London from 11th-15th November to discuss ways to decarbonize shipping and meet the IMO strategy target to at least halve emissions by 2050. One important proposal on the table was to cut maritime speeds. This is vital as a new study finds that a 20% speed reduction could decrease underwater noise by 66%, reduce chances of whale collisions by 78%, cut GHGs, and curb Ocean pollution from black carbon and nitrogen oxides. So it’s disappointing to report that delegates at the working group backed away from proposals to limit either ships’ speed or power because – according to one participant – “there was no appetite for prescriptive speed reduction regulation.” Instead, states adopted a softer goal-setting approach to reduce carbon emissions in the short-term and agreed a draft resolution urging Member States to develop and update voluntary National Action Plans (NAP).
In an article published just before the working group, Pascal Lamy warned that some states were pushing for weaker proposals – including one put forward by Japan and Norway that would only lower emissions from shipping by 1-6% by 2030. He is adamant that such a lackluster approach is not good enough for an industry that is the world’s sixth-largest GHG emitter, and his concerns were proved right. A statement by the Clean Shipping Coalition after the working group lambasted its lack of ambition and progress, while some of its members accused the outcome of “greenwashing” world shipping. IMO members need to get themselves back on course to make the international shipping trade less oil-dependent and accelerate the deep emissions and speed cuts needed to address the climate emergency and protect marine life. More haste, less speed.
IUU fishing report flags South Korea
Every 2 years the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports to Congress on the threat posed by illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, analyzing data that now includes bycatch and shark catch on the High Seas. IUU fishing is a major thorn in the side of marine management globally, and poses a serious threat to food, economic and environmental security. 20% of the total global catch is believed to be a product of IUU fishing, and these nefarious operators fleece the global economy of as much as $23.5 billion every year. The biennial NOAA report plays a key role in making the latest IUU fishing information available to governments to inform policy making.
The 2019 report found 3 nations (Mexico, Ecuador and the Russian Federation) identified in the 2017 report have since taken actions to remedy IUU activities, resulting in positive certifications from the U.S, though Mexico and Ecuador were still flagged for IUU occurring in 2016-2018. South Korea is highlighted for failing to stop its vessels violating conservation and management measures adopted by an international fishery management organization – in particular CCAMLR, the international body established to protect Antarctic waters. Response to the report has been swift; 7 Korean and international NGOs are calling on South Korea to undertake immediate reforms, warning that they risk trade sanctions on their seafood exports. Meanwhile, the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) has taken concrete steps to increase fisheries transparency, protect threatened corals and preserve breeding grounds through the enforcement of a package of measures that will help fight overfishing and IUU fishing. It’s good to see states and fisheries bodies taking action to stamp out dangerous, destructive IUU fishing.
EU and US sink mako protections at ICCAT
Many participants were shocked when urgently needed protection measures for the endangered North Atlantic mako sharks were defeated in the final moments of the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), in Palma on 25 November. The culprits? The US and EU, who – according to the President of Shark Advocates International – “put short-term fishing interests above all else and ruined a golden opportunity for real progress.” The 2 fishing superpowers blocked a proposal put forward by Canada and Senegal, and endorsed by 16 other countries – including Japan and China, to completely ban retention of all mako sharks, including those accidentally killed. Hundreds of tonnes of the seriously overfished endangered species are landed every year. The EU and US’s refusal to support the proposal flies in the face of strong advice by ICCAT scientists, who insist a total ban on retention is needed to close loopholes that easily allow illicitly caught makos to enter the market. Even with the ban, scientists estimate the species would take 4 or 5 decades to recover; without it status quo fishing at unsustainable levels will inevitably continue. We knew it would be make or break for makos in Palma. Sadly, this time it was break and the finger of blame points most squarely at the EU and the hosts of this ICCAT meeting, Spain – the country that catches more makos than any other. The battle to save the mako continues.
Luckily, it wasn’t all a case of “ICCA-n’T”. Groundbreaking new catch limits were agreed on landed blue shark tonnage in both the North and South Atlantic. And, in a long overdue move welcomed by WWF and others, ICCAT members finally adopted a 15-year management plan for bigeye and tropical tuna aimed at preventing the collapse of the tuna so prized by sashimi chefs by 2033. It includes the reduction of Fish Aggregating Devices used by purse seiners by 40% in 2 years and better monitoring mechanisms against illegal fishing.