10 December, 2020
Fourteen of the most important countries for global fishing have come together to create the world’s biggest sustainable oceans initiative: the High Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy. Catchy.
The agreement means that, over the next decade, the signatories will end over-fishing, work to restore fish populations and support circular economy initiatives to prevent ocean plastics. Their methods will include ending harmful subsidies on threatened species, cracking down on illegal fishing, and scaling up new technologies and solutions such as sustainable farm fishing. With the members of the Panel between them accounting for 40% of the world’s coastline, this move is no drop in the ocean.
Putting these kinds of measures in plaice could have huge benefits. Better management could produce six-times more food from the seas than today, create 12 million new jobs, and deliver a 500% social return on investment. Add to that, one fifth of emissions reductions needed to meet the Paris agreement could come from better managed oceans.
The UK has said it will “carefully consider” the recommendations made by the Panel, but it has its own oceanic problems to deal with. At time of writing, Boris Johnson is still tangled in the net of fishing regulation in his Brexit discussions with the EU. But, quite hilariously, he has been served a meal of scallops and turbot mid-negotiations. Whatever the final outcome, the fourteen countries of the Panel have set the course for a more sustainable fish future.
By Ben Wood