A snapshot of the economic benefits from foreign bottom trawling in coastal West Africa: A mutually-beneficial trade in services, no winners or extractivism?
Large-scale fishing effort in the waters of tropical and lower income countries is predominantly driven by ‘distant water fishing fleets’ often owned by companies based in a small number of countries and has been associated with a range of negative environmental and social outcomes. West Africa is an example where such fleets are a dominant feature. In the waters of Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana, 75% of all licensed bottom trawl vessels in 2017 either registered (‘flagged’) or largely owned in China.
Plastic is now the most widely used human-made substance on the planet, and plastics pollution impacts marine and coastal ecosystems, local economies, and human health. Local and national governments are increasingly responding by banning plastic bags and other specific plastic products, taxing the use of certain plastics, and improving waste management and recycling. These are important steps, but alone they will not result in a meaningful reduction in cumulative plastics pollution or encourage development of sufficient alternatives to plastic. Additional policy measures are necessary.
Ocean conservation and sustainable use cannot be pursued or achieved without consideration of the planetary impacts of climate change, and particularly the role of the oceans in both mitigation and adaptation. For this reason, the international community has increasingly committed to providing aid to help finance public goods for ocean conservation and climate action. Although many organizations have set up mechanisms to track both aid and climate finance, such trackers are usually not focused on financial flows related to ocean conservation and climate action.
In 2020, the Plastics Policy Inventory and accompanying report, 20 Years of Government Responses to the Global Plastic Pollution Problem, were published, providing a baseline for the trends in government responses to the plastic pollution problem, as well as highlighting some gaps.
Combatting Illegal Fishing through Transparency Initiatives: Lessons Learned from Comparative Analysis of Transparency Initiatives in Seafood, Apparel, Extractive, and Timber Supply Chains
Over the last two decades, efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing have led to an expansion of initiatives to enhance transparency across the seafood industry through international agreements, national government regulations, and voluntary private initiatives. Understanding of the effects of these initiatives remains limited, and approaches contested among stakeholders.
A new report by leading fisheries experts found that over 99 percent of bottom trawling worldwide occurs inside the Exclusive Economic Zones of coastal nations—with much of the effort focused within just 12 miles of shore—posing risks to critical habitats and traditional, small-scale, artisanal fishing operations. As the only globally significant fishing practice that requires sustained contact with the seabed, bottom trawling has a uniquely high impact, one that can drive habitat destruction, coastal conflict and major fuel-related carbon emissions.
This whitepaper summarizes the scientific and policy consensus at the ocean-climate nexus, specifically with respect to the role of coral reefs and closely associated tropical coastal ecosystems in climate change processes, and explicitly identifies gaps within key intergovernmental climate and biodiversity policy frameworks that must be addressed to maximize their potential as nature-based solutions during a key decade of conservation action. It concludes with recommendations for national governments and other stakeholders.
We compiled a novel library of 2,317 corporate reports from the world's 200 largest companies, by revenue, over a ten-year period (2010–2019) and used text mining tools to identify pronounced regional and sectoral variability in the extent to which plastic waste and pollution is of material importance to corporate operations. The results show a dominant focus on recycling, with far less attention to the other stages of the life cycle of plastic.
Fixing Financial, Economic and Governance Structures to Save Forests and the Ocean, and Enhance Their Contributions to Climate Change Solutions
Forests and the ocean are vital for climate, biological diversity, and human communities, but they are degraded and their ecosystem services are seriously impaired, mainly because financial, economic and governance structures are misconfigured. We propose that G20 help strengthen the REDD+ climate instrument for forests and extend it to Blue Carbon1 from coastal and marine ecosystems. Scaled up to cover the Earth’s two largest, most diverse and most productive ecosystems, these two approaches can deliver significant economic and climate benefits.
This essay provides ocean philanthropists with a brief introduction to trends in ocean-targeted official development assistance (ODA), to demystify the latter for the former, and suggest some ways that the two might more closely work together and enhance their individual efforts.