Back in October before COP23 began, I made the prediction that Fiji’s leadership at the COP would lead the focus towards ocean sustainability. Today, the Food and Agricultural Organization sponsored a series of side events in the Bonn Zone on ocean and coastal zone management. One side event, in particular, discussed the adaptation techniques of countries to climate change, particularly regarding fisheries and aquaculture. Natural fisheries are plummeting and sustainable ocean management is the best step forward. Senegal, in particular, has taken a hard stance on fisheries management with the strict appliance of its fisheries laws both domestically and to non-domestic actors within its jurisdiction. Senegal also saw an increase in marine protected areas with a total coverage of roughly 306,000 hectares while also an increase in their aquaculture programs to fight food scarcity.
Ernesto Peña-Lados the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in the European Commission emphasized that the forward movement for sustainable fisheries management was not new laws but better programs. Mr. Peña-Lados made the insightful statement that there are several countries with good laws and poor management while those with less stringent laws maintained good management practices. This, he pointed out, was due to how the laws were implemented, enforced, and understood in the countries that undertook them. The laws were the same but the application is different.
This is a bright light for our future. Oceans are finally receiving the interest they deserve and concern beyond that of rising sea levels and warmer waters. Fisheries sustain such a large portion of our population and if the laws are good enough, there is nothing to stop us from implementing them better.