Global Commitments Made at Our Ocean Conference

Secure Fisheries' Director Robert Mazurek (top row, center) with John Kerry and participants at the Our Ocean conference. Photo by U.S. Department of State.

Secure Fisheries Director Robert Mazurek participated in the third Our Ocean conference, held September 15-16 in Washington, D.C.  Prior to the conference, Secure Fisheries’ Sarah Glaser highlighted outcomes we at Secure Fisheries were hoping to see. We are excited that Our Ocean addressed those and many more important commitments to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and promote sustainable fisheries. The conference welcomed announcements of over 136 new initiatives on marine conservation and protection valued at more than $5.24 billion, as well as new commitments on the protection of almost four million square kilometers of the ocean.

At the Our Ocean conference, the U.S. State Department announced the partnership between Secure Fisheries and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to create best practices for naval fleets in the collection and dissemination of illegal fishing information.  This collaboration was picked as a pilot project for the State Department’s Safe Ocean Network.  More than 40 projects to counter illegal fishing, worth over $82 million, are affiliated with the Safe Ocean Network, which includes participation from 25 countries and the European Union. 

Other announcements relevant to Secure Fisheries included:

  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that the Port State Measures Agreement entered into force on June 5, 2016, with 35 parties as of August 2016, 23 of which joined in the last year. Three additional countries committed to joining by the Our Ocean Conference 2017: Ghana, Senegal, and Madagascar.

  • Among many commitments to establish new marine protected area, Seychelles announced that it will establish up to 400,000 square kilometers of marine protected area (30 percent of its EEZ) by 2020 as part of a comprehensive marine spatial plan for its entire EEZ via a debt swap of up to $27 million with its Paris Club creditors and the Government of South Africa, and support from the Nature Conservancy and private capital investors interested in marine conservation.

  • Seychelles also announced that it will support the transition to sustainable management of its small scale artisanal fishery through the issuance of a “blue bond,” which will raise up to $15 million for rebuilding fish stocks, introducing harvest control measures, eco labelling, and encouraging a shift to post harvest and value adding activities, with support from Prince Charles Charities, The Nature Conservancy, the World Bank, and the GEF.

  • The United States announced its commitment, in cooperation with many other World Trade Organization (WTO) members, to establish a new international agreement under the WTO to eliminate subsidies that contribute to overfishing and IUU fishing.

  • There were many commitments to shark conservation. Colombia announced that it will quadruple the size of the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, which hosts one of the world's largest aggregations of sharks, so that it will cover an additional 20,237 square kilometers.