Sustainable fishing agreement signed by 14 countries

An Icelandic fishing fleet in harbour.
Image: Peter Prokosch

Governments responsible for 40% of the world’s coastlines have pledged to end overfishing and stop the flow of plastic into the seas within 10 years

The world’s biggest ocean sustainability initiative has been signed. The 14 countries promise to end subsidies that contribute to overfishing, a key demand of campaigners. They will also aim to eliminate illegal fishing through better enforcement and management, and to minimise bycatch and discards.

Australian fishing boats in harbour at Trinity Inlet, Queensland.
Trinity Inlet, East Trinity QLD, Australia – David Clode on Unsplash

Research has found that if oceans were sustainably managed, they could provide six times more food than today, when many species are fished up to and beyond their recovery limits.

Economists also calculate that for every $1 invested in sustainable oceans, there is about $5 return in economic, social, environmental and health benefits, and that sustainably managing the world’s oceans would create about 12m new jobs.

A fish and other marine life trapped in a discarded fishing net.
Many marine species including turtles, sharks, whales, dolphins, dugongs become entangled in ghost nets. Most go unnoticed and unrecorded.

The agreement also include commitments to:

  • Protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030
  • Improve the monitoring of fishing
  • Eliminate the discarding of “ghost” fishing gear
  • Invest in sewage infrastructure in developing countries
  • Place national targets on decarbonising shipping transport
  • Scale up environmentally responsible forms of fish farming

Humanity’s wellbeing is deeply intertwined with the health of the ocean. It sustains us, stabilises the climate and leads to greater prosperity. For too long, we have perceived a false choice between ocean protection and production. No longer.

Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway
Fishing boats in arbour at Whitstable, United Kingdom.
Whitstable, United Kingdom – Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Britain did not sign the agreement. A spokesperson for the UK government said: “The UK is at the forefront of the global fight to protect our marine habitats, and is championing a global commitment to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030. We will carefully consider the recommendations made by the High Level Panel, to ensure we continue to work globally to raise the bar for marine protection.”

The signatories are:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Fiji
  • Ghana
  • Indonesia
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Mexico
  • Namibia
  • Norway
  • Palau
  • Portugal


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