Today, the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel), composed of 14 serving world leaders, committed to restore and sustainably harvest their wild ocean fish stocks by 2030. An accompanying report noted that “the ocean’s ability to sustainably produce food is vastly under-realised. Managed better and sustainably, the ocean could produce up to six times more food than it does today—and it could do so with a low environmental footprint.”
Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless, who participated in the Ocean Panel’s Advisory Network, released the following statement in response to the world leader commitments, new report, and call to action for other nations:
“One key finding of this study is that by saving the ocean we can help feed the world. Well managed oceans can be rebuilt and feed millions more people than ever before, and do so forever, with support from national policies based in science. And this rebuilding would be especially helpful to the food insecure populations – especially, children and mothers – who need the micronutrients and protein that fish provide.
Restoring the world’s oceans is urgent and necessary to alleviate global hunger and suffering, especially as the impacts of a changing climate become more apparent. “Globally, climate change puts up to 3 billion people at risk of food and economic insecurity,” according the Ocean Panel report, and already at least 420 million hungry people were living in major fishing countries in 2017. A decline in fish populations worsens existing inequalities by posing a disproportionate threat to people – specifically, young children – in least developed countries, where seafood is a crucial source of healthy protein and important micronutrients like iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins A and B12. Deficiencies of these micronutrients can increase risks of perinatal and maternal mortality, growth retardation, child mortality, cognitive deficits and reduced immune function. According to estimates by the United Nations, the world’s population will increase by 33% by 2050 — meaning 2.4 billion more mouths to feed — and the world must produce 70% more food to meet the greater demand. We must act, and we must act now.
If properly tended and cared for, our oceans could provide a healthy seafood meal to over a billion people each day in a way that is truly sustainable. 95% of the world’s wild fish catch is landed in Exclusive Economic Zones, ocean directly controlled by individual countries, and that is governed by national law. National science-based fishery management policies can stop overfishing, reduce bycatch, and protect habitat in key countries, all while providing more climate-smart protein for a growing population. By taking action in their own jurisdictions and collaborating internationally, nations can develop transparent supply chains that would minimize illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and increase seafood access for marginalized communities.
The oceans are a fundamental lever in feeding the world, combatting climate change, and generating jobs. That is the profound finding of the Ocean Panel’s expert-driven study. Now the question is whether the heads of state that authored this report will pass and enforce the laws needed in their countries to get the ocean rebuilt and protected from pollution from plastic and oil drilling.
We urge these 14 world leaders to follow through on their commitments to institute 100% sustainable ocean management by 2025 by passing enforceable policies that measurably show progress toward restoring their seas. Oceana is actively campaigning in four of these countries - Canada, Mexico, Chile and Portugal – and our local teams will seek to hold these leaders accountable.
The nations of the world have an obligation to their citizens to save our seas, and Oceana will continue to campaign to achieve just that.“
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.