Thank you for subscribing, Please scroll down to check out this month’s Navigator.
WELCOME TO THE NAVIGATOR!
It’s been a busy Ocean month, with lots of exciting announcements about new commitments and initiatives coming out of the recent Our Ocean Conference (read on to learn more). We would be brimming with excitement given the US$10 billion and 300 new commitments made in Bali at the Our Ocean Conference. Unfortunately, they all have to be weighed against new science on ever-more warming waters, another eye-opening IPCC report and a shocking update on the state of global biodiversity. Then, of course, there’s the continued stalemate in the Southern Ocean as key marine areas in the Antarctic have been denied protection. It all feels as if we are teetering precariously on the precipice of a climate and biodiversity disaster, but we’re just too obsessed with getting our best selfie instead of looking around and seeing what is really happening. Before you know it, we’ll be tumbling down into the unknown wondering why we were so damned stupid…
Anyway, for some cheery news, read this month’s bumper issue of The Navigator!
SEEN FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE –
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
New global deal on nature
The world has 2 years to secure a deal for nature to halt a silent killer as dangerous as climate change, warns Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) head Cristiana Pasca Palmer about the threat of biodiversity loss. From 17-29 November, 196 member governments will gather in Egypt to discuss the framework for a new global deal for nature that will come into effect in 2020. Back in 2010, the world’s governments agreed to a 10-year plan to conserve biodiversity, consisting of 20 targets known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Eight years on, we are fast approaching the 2020 deadline and the world is still experiencing a major biodiversity crisis and we are “sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff”.
The findings of a major new report from WWF reveal that humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970. This loss is threatening our whole life web – the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. We need more action and more ambitious, concrete global goals and targets.
On marine protection, Aichi biodiversity target 11 and SDG 14 call for at least 10% marine protection by 2020. To date only 3.7% of the global Ocean is under some sort of protection according to the Marine Conservation Institute’s Atlas of Marine Protection. The science recommends we strongly protect at least 30% of the Ocean by 2030 (30×30) to ensure a healthy and resilient ocean. This 30×30 goal is gaining more and more traction and now has some significant philanthropic backing, with the recent announcement of a US$1 billion campaign by the Wyss Foundation to conserve 30% of the planet in a natural state by the year 2030.
A new global deal on nature needs to embrace these ambitious targets if we don’t want to dive off that biodiversity-loss cliff. But we probably need to go even further. Spearheaded by scientist E.O. Wilson, the Half Earth project calls for the protection of half of the Earth’s land and sea if we stand any chance of reversing the species extinction crisis and to ensure our planet’s long-term health. Here’s a reminder of what biodiversity is and why it really matters.
Paris Peace Forum: make MPAs not war
To mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War, France is holding a memorial for world leaders in Paris, as well as hosting the first ever Paris Peace Forum (11-13 November), which was initiated by President Macron last year. The Forum hopes to be a place of “debate, solutions and innovation” and will centre around the themes of development, environment, inclusive economy, new technologies and peace and security. 150 governance-focused projects have been selected to present their work at the meeting, including Antarctica2020 – a group of champions from around the world working to secure the protection of 7 million km2 of the Southern Ocean by 2020.
Peace isn’t just about having no war – it’s also strongly linked to good global governance and looking at how to reduce international tensions from the effects of climate change, resource scarcity and inequalities. All these issues are pertinent to Ocean governance as well. At the Forum, Antarctica2020 hopes to inspire leaders to look at the wider picture of climate change and biodiversity loss, and – given the recent disappointing result regarding Antarctic marine protection – to brainstorm ways to break the impasse of inaction and how we can work together as civil society, government and businesses to ensure protection.
To learn more about the meeting follow @ParisPeaceForum and #Antarctica2020.
Busting illegal fishing crime
Last month, the lid was lifted on the shady and dangerous world of illegal fishing when the EU’s law enforcement agency (Europol) busted a multi-country organized crime ring dealing in more than 2.5 million kg of bluefin tuna annually, with a 12 million Euro profit. Operation Tarantelo found the volume of illegal bluefin tuna being sold in Europe is likely to be double that of the legal tuna trade. It also showed there’s still a lot to do to fight this global scourge, which is destructive, dangerous, unfair and inhuman: it steals marine life and has links to slavery and organized crime. See this recent report on the devastating impact illegal fishing is having on island states due to gun-running and drug trafficking by international criminal networks in the fishing industry.
There is no silver bullet in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, though greater transparency is key – including through initiatives like Global Fishing Watch, which aims to shine a spotlight on the Ocean by tracking and sharing data. Together with Oceana, Global Fishing Watch has been working with the government of Peru to put at least 1,300 of its industrial fishing vessels on a publicly accessible website so their locations can be monitored in real-time.
A new report just released by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) ‘Out of the shadows’ sets out 10 global principles for transparency in fisheries. These include: giving every commercial vessel worldwide a unique vessel identifier (UVI), which will stay with it from the time it’s built until it’s scrapped; keeping information on the FAO Global Record of Fishing Vessels; ensuring up-to-date lists of fishing licenses and authorizations, vessel registries, human trafficking and other related crimes, and information on arrests and sanctions for IUU fishing activities; tracking systems; banning transshipments at sea unless they’re pre-authorized, subject to robust and verifiable electronic monitoring and covered by a human observer scheme; the need to adopt international measures, such as the FAO Port State Measures Agreement, the International Labour Organization Work in Fishing Convention (C188) and the IMO Cape Town Agreement on crew safety on fishing vessels.
For more background on IUU fishing see Ocean Unite’s talking points.
OCEAN SIGNALS– SHORT OCEAN ANNOUNCEMENTS
WAVES ON THE HORIZON –
WHAT'S COMING UP?
Sending out a Climate SOS
The recent IPCC report set off a chorus of alarm bells that could not have been louder – it’s time to wake up and smell the climate change. We either invest now in significantly reducing greenhouse gases in the next 12 years, or we’re going to have to pay way more further down the line for damage to property, infrastructure, livelihoods, loss of lives and population displacement due to rising sea levels. See a shortened version – “Summary for Policy Makers”. The UN Secretary General urged all countries to make the upcoming Katowice Climate Conference (2-14 December) a success by listening to these top scientists on the need to raise ambition big time, make much stronger national climate action plans, and urgently accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Records continue to be broken – but nobody is getting excited about them. For example, “Ocean heat content” has set a new record in the first half of 2018, with more warmth in the Ocean than at any time since records began in 1940. What does that mean for the Ocean and for us? Well for one, the hurricanes are going to keep coming, and much harder. Sea levels will inevitably rise and acidifying waters are harming marine life and their habitats.
But, the Ocean isn’t just a victim, it’s also part of the solution. A recent article found “high potential for Ocean-based options to address climate change and its impacts”. Fish carbon has been found to stabilize our climate and protecting wetlands helps communities reduce damage from hurricanes and storms. If you want to become an expert on the role of the Ocean in our planet’s climate check out these 14 factsheets on Ocean and climate by the Ocean & Climate platform. And if you want a change from reading, watch #OceanforClimate TV.
A LOOK BACK AT WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING
Antarctic melts while marine protection proposals remain frozen
As an iceberg 5 times the size of Manhattan calved off West Antarctica, the body tasked with protecting Antarctic marine life (CCAMLR) again failed to agree on the creation of further marine protected areas in the region, despite worldwide warnings on the impacts of climate change and the need to significantly curb biodiversity loss. This year, 3 MPAs were on the table for a decision – in East Antarctica, the Weddell Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula. However all 3 proposals were unsuccessful. For the 7th year in a row a joint proposal (by Australia and the EU, led by France) to protect the East Antarctic failed, with China and Russia yet again blocking the consensus needed. For the Weddell Sea, Norway joined Russia and China in their opposition of creating what would be the world’s largest marine reserve.
Strange things have been happening in the Antarctic recently – a strange, headless chicken monster from the deep was caught on camera, a perfect rectangular iceberg was spotted by NASA and strange noises have been coming from the ice-shelf. Could this be a sign that the region is screaming for more attention?!
Indeed, even all the noise ahead of the meeting – from world-renowned actors, former Presidents, formidable Ocean explorers, high-level influencers and even rock bands – was still not enough to ensure the world’s last wilderness is protected. In the next 12 months, leading up to the next CCAMLR meeting, we need to continue to work together and support the proponent countries to ensure support for Southern Ocean MPAs does not melt away and a network of MPAs in the region will be established, covering at least 7 million km2 by 2020 and boosting Ocean protection by an order of magnitude greater than anything achieved before.
Indonesia’s Our Ocean racks up new commitments
Since its inception in 2014, the Our Ocean Conference has become a milestone on the Ocean calendar – a feel-good forum where governments, NGOs, companies and organizations can showcase their work, make commitments and profile new initiatives. This year’s Our Ocean was no exception. According to the Conference’s official website, this year’s meeting resulted in 305 tangible and measurable commitments, US$10.7 billion of monetary commitments and 14 million km2 of MPAs. That is an impressive achievement. Indonesia’s 23 commitments alone amounted to over US$80 million. See herefor a full list of commitments.
A large number of announcements were made including big-hitting initiatives to protect fisheries and a New Plastics Global Economy Commitment that brings together key players responsible for producing 20% of all plastic packaging globally. The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Ambassadors group was launched, led by John Kerry and David Cameron, that focuses on supporting countries’ efforts to strongly protect at least 30% of the Ocean by 2030. The Caribbean Accelerator, a Coalition of over 26 Caribbean governments and 40 global companies, financial institutions, and foundations, also announced a commitment to invest up to US$1billion in private and public funds to build a climate smart Caribbean. Insurance giant AXA XL continued its leadership of focus on ocean risk, driving an insurance-led multi-sector collaboration and action to build ocean resilience.
Luckily, it seems as if these commitments are not just a flash in the Ocean conservation pan – and when it comes to MPAs, the commitments are being thoroughly followed up. A review of progress in meeting the Our Ocean MPA commitments by Oregon State University was presented at the meeting by MPA guru and Ocean Unite Network member, Jane Lubchenco and showed that 46% of all the actions were completed, 49% made progress and just 5% saw no progress.
Indonesia have now handed over the baton to Norway, who will be hosting the Our Ocean Conference in 2019, followed by Palau in 2020.
IMO – progress on Arctic heavy fuel oil ban and plastic ban adopted
The recent International Maritime Organization environmental committee meeting (MPEC73) made good progress on working towards a total ban in the Arctic of heavy fuel oil (HFO). Environmental and indigenous organizations strongly welcomed the support of a number of countries for work to commence in February 2019 on developing a ban on the use and carriage of this hugely polluting oil by ships operating in the Arctic. It also adopted an action plan to address marine litter from ships.
HFO has no place in Arctic shipping, or anywhere else for that matter. Costs are often cited as a barrier to Arctic shipping cleaning up its act. However, according to a new report by the green transport group Transport & Environment, the cost of stopping burning HFO in the Arctic and switching to a more sustainable fuel would cost passengers just the price of a glass of wine a day for cruise ships. That seems a pretty small price for people to pay to ensure their holiday doesn’t endanger the Arctic.
20 new MPAs approved in South Africa
South African marine critters are no doubt celebrating the recent announcement that a further network of 20 marine protected areas were approved on 24th October by the South African government. This increases the percentage of protected oceans in South Africa from a measly 0.4% to 5% – just halfway to the Aichi target, but hopefully the beginning of a blue wave towards strongly protecting at least 30% of the country’s massive Exclusive Economic Zone. This is a whopping win for environmental groups working on the #Onlythismuch initiative (including WILDOCEANS, Ocean Unite, WWF, the Centre for Environmental Rights and the South African Association for Marine Biological Research), who have been campaigning for greater protection of South Africa’s waters, as well as all those within government who have worked for years to make this happen. It is also a fitting tribute to the incredible leadership of the Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, who sadly passed away last month, before she could see her ambitious plan approved.