Sunday, January 26, 2014

Management of marine resources requires radical change, according to FAO

The management of marine resources requires a new strategy to safeguard world food security while promoting sustainable development, says the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) CEO, Jose Graziano da Silva.

Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General

"Time for a sea change in the management of the oceans has come," said the FAO official during a meeting of high-level policy makers held in UAE.

Graziano da Silva stressed that it is necessary to make profound changes in the way we manage and use the planet marine resources, and it is important to ensure the welfare of coastal and island countries.

"We cannot keep using marine and aquatic resources as if they were endless. And we cannot keep using our oceans as a waste pool," he said in the context of the Blue Economy Summit, held between 19 and 20 January in Abu Dhabi.

The head of the FAO said that ocean health is seriously threatened by several factors, among which he mentioned pollution, overfishing, weather changes and rising sea levels caused by climate change.

On average, about 17 per cent of the animal protein consumed worldwide comes from fisheries-aquaculture sector. However, in many small island developing States that figure is much higher.

According to FAO, the livelihoods of 12 per cent of the world's population depend on fisheries and aquaculture, mainly in developing countries.

Nevertheless, experts estimate that 30 per cent of global fish stocks are overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion.

Several studies by FAO indicate that economic losses for marine fishing industry due to mismanagement, inefficiency and fishing represent a USD 50 billion annually.

Moreover, scientists warn that climate change poses new challenges to the people who depend on the oceans, by changing the distribution and productivity of marine and freshwater species, and altering food webs.

Although in the past 30 years about 80 agreements were signed to address threats to the oceans and their resources, Graziano da Silva emphasized that "We not only need to commit, we need to act."

Since Rio +20 Conference in 2012, the model of "blue economy" emphasizes conservation and sustainable management, and aims to ensure that small island developing States and costal countries in the developing world benefit equitably from their marine resources.

Therefore, the FAO is promoting a new Blue Growth Initiative, through which the organization will support countries in the development and implementation of agendas on blue economy and growth. More