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Vulnerable marine ecosystems: processes and practices in the high seas

Published by: FAO


About

The management of bottom fisheries and the protection of ecosystems in the high seas have received increased attention at the international level during the last decade, and in particular subsequent to the passing of UNGA Res. 61/105 that called for actions by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations or Arrangements (RFMO/As) with the competence to regulate bottom fisheries to take actions by the end of 2008 to address issues relating deep-sea fisheries and vulnerable marine ecosystems. FAO developed, through a consultative process, the “International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas” that were adopted in 2008. These assisted States and RFMO/As to undertake the actions called for by the UNGA. The present publications provide an overview of how States and RFMOs to date have tried to implement the above resolution and applying the technical guidance contained in the FAO DSF Guidelines with respect to Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. It details VME processes undertaken globally in ABNJ. The publication is composed of regional chapters, describing the processes and measures adopted in the different ocean regions, pulling these together in a global overview. This will form a sister volume to the “Worldwide review of bottom fisheries in the high seas” (WWR) that was first published by FAO in 2009.

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General Information

SDGs Goal 14: Life below water
Published
2016
Thematic Area
Sustainability
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Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counter balance the effects of climate change.

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, today we are seeing 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks overexploited, well below a level at which they can produce sustainable yields.

Oceans also absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, and we are seeing a 26 percent rise in ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Marine pollution, an overwhelming majority of which comes from land-based sources, is reaching alarming levels, with an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter to be found on every square kilometer of ocean.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) create a framework to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from land-based pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law will also help mitigate some of the challenges facing our oceans.

Protecting our oceans is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 14.

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Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counter balance the effects of climate change.

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, today we are seeing 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks overexploited, well below a level at which they can produce sustainable yields.

Oceans also absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, and we are seeing a 26 percent rise in ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Marine pollution, an overwhelming majority of which comes from land-based sources, is reaching alarming levels, with an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter to be found on every square kilometer of ocean.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) create a framework to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from land-based pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law will also help mitigate some of the challenges facing our oceans.

Protecting our oceans is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 14.

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  • By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
  • By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
  • Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels
  • By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
  • By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
  • By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
  • By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
  • Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
  • Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
  • Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
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  • By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
  • By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
  • Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels
  • By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
  • By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
  • By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
  • By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
  • Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
  • Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
  • Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
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The concept of long term sustainability of development programmes is constantly evolving.

The SDG Fund definition involves:

  1. Inclusion and participation in programme initiatives within the vision of a Human Rights-based approach
  2. Economic use of resources in programme implementation
  3. Sustainability of programme achievements after termination of activities
  4. Mainstreaming environment and climate change in development programmes

For our programmes integrating sustainability requires an analysis of the governance architecture and the different stages of the programme cycle. At the national level, this could include the formulation of national policies, long term and multi-year development plans, sectoral budgetary allocation processes, and regulatory processes. At the level of projects on the ground, climate change adaptation considerations might need to be factored within specific elements of the project cycle.

As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens. The following criteria are essential elements to be observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under consideration could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

The following publications offer useful guidance for introducing environmental sustainability and climate change sensitivity into development programmes:

See also this list of references from the UNFCCC on how to mainstream climate change into development programming.

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The concept of long term sustainability of development programmes is constantly evolving.

The SDG Fund definition involves:

  1. Inclusion and participation in programme initiatives within the vision of a Human Rights-based approach
  2. Economic use of resources in programme implementation
  3. Sustainability of programme achievements after termination of activities
  4. Mainstreaming environment and climate change in development programmes

For our programmes integrating sustainability requires an analysis of the governance architecture and the different stages of the programme cycle. At the national level, this could include the formulation of national policies, long term and multi-year development plans, sectoral budgetary allocation processes, and regulatory processes. At the level of projects on the ground, climate change adaptation considerations might need to be factored within specific elements of the project cycle.

As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens. The following criteria are essential elements to be observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under consideration could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

The following publications offer useful guidance for introducing environmental sustainability and climate change sensitivity into development programmes:

See also this list of references from the UNFCCC on how to mainstream climate change into development programming.

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Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains

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Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains

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FAO developed, through a consultative process, the “International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas” that were adopted in 2008. These assisted States and RFMO/As to undertake the actions called for by the UNGA. The present publications provide an overview of how States and RFMOs to date have tried to implement the above resolution and applying the technical guidance contained in the FAO DSF Guidelines with respect to Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. It details VME processes undertaken globally in ABNJ. The publication is composed of regional chapters, describing the processes and measures adopted in the different ocean regions, pulling these together in a global overview. This will form a sister volume to the “Worldwide review of bottom fisheries in the high seas” (WWR) that was first published by FAO in 2009. [format] => [safe_value] => The management of bottom fisheries and the protection of ecosystems in the high seas have received increased attention at the international level during the last decade, and in particular subsequent to the passing of UNGA Res. 61/105 that called for actions by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations or Arrangements (RFMO/As) with the competence to regulate bottom fisheries to take actions by the end of 2008 to address issues relating deep-sea fisheries and vulnerable marine ecosystems. FAO developed, through a consultative process, the “International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas” that were adopted in 2008. These assisted States and RFMO/As to undertake the actions called for by the UNGA. The present publications provide an overview of how States and RFMOs to date have tried to implement the above resolution and applying the technical guidance contained in the FAO DSF Guidelines with respect to Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. It details VME processes undertaken globally in ABNJ. The publication is composed of regional chapters, describing the processes and measures adopted in the different ocean regions, pulling these together in a global overview. This will form a sister volume to the “Worldwide review of bottom fisheries in the high seas” (WWR) that was first published by FAO in 2009. ) ) ) [field_year] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => 2016-01-01 00:00:00 [timezone] => America/New_York [timezone_db] => America/New_York [date_type] => datetime ) ) ) [field_publication_keywords] => Array ( ) [field_publisher] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => FAO [format] => [safe_value] => FAO ) ) ) [field_region] => Array ( ) [field_thumb] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [fid] => 2009 [uid] => 1 [filename] => a-i5952e-1.jpg [uri] => public://a-i5952e-1.jpg [filemime] => image/jpeg [filesize] => 202826 [status] => 1 [timestamp] => 1487890235 [type] => image [field_file_image_alt_text] => Array ( ) [field_file_image_title_text] => Array ( ) [rdf_mapping] => Array ( ) [metadata] => Array ( [height] => 841 [width] => 595 ) [alt] => [title] => [height] => 841 [width] => 595 ) ) ) [field_featured] => Array ( ) [field_file_fr] => Array ( ) [field_file_ar] => Array ( ) [field_file_pt] => Array ( ) [field_file_es] => Array ( ) [field_external_link] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5952e.pdf [format] => [safe_value] => http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5952e.pdf ) ) ) [field_external_link_text] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => External Link [format] => [safe_value] => External Link ) ) ) [rdf_mapping] => Array ( [rdftype] => Array ( [0] => sioc:Item [1] => foaf:Document ) [title] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => dc:title ) ) [created] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => dc:date [1] => dc:created ) [datatype] => xsd:dateTime [callback] => date_iso8601 ) [changed] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => dc:modified ) [datatype] => xsd:dateTime [callback] => date_iso8601 ) [body] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => content:encoded ) ) [uid] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => sioc:has_creator ) [type] => rel ) [name] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => foaf:name ) ) [comment_count] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => sioc:num_replies ) [datatype] => xsd:integer ) [last_activity] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => sioc:last_activity_date ) [datatype] => xsd:dateTime [callback] => date_iso8601 ) ) [name] => Library Manager 1 [picture] => 0 [data] => a:1:{s:7:"contact";i:0;} [entity_view_prepared] => 1 ) [#items] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5952e.pdf [format] => [safe_value] => http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5952e.pdf ) ) [#formatter] => text_plain [0] => Array ( [#markup] => http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5952e.pdf ) [#description] => Please enter the full URL, e.g. http://www.example.com [#printed] => 1 )