Ghost Fishing Gear

The session began this afternoon with introductory remarks from the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, Ambassador Per Thoresson, and H.E Ambassador Mahe Uli’ Uli Sandhurst Tupouniu, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga, both highlighting the necessity to protect global marine resources for sustainable development and finding  the role of governments to achieve SDG 14.

Ambassador Per Thoresson, welcomed the panelist, and the new Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden  as the keynote speaker.

Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin in her presentation addressed the problem of lost fishing gear in Sweden and in the Baltic sea, highlighting that lost fishing gear is a major pollutant in oceans (microplastics) affecting marine life and reduces fish stock. Less fish means fishermen will spend more time fishing and some will fish illegally. She also said that Sweden is leading several initiatives to address lost fishing gear in the Baltic Sea and introducing drifting nets to decrease the flow of plastic waste into the sea.  The Deputy Prime Minister reiterated that multi-stakeholder platforms are very necessary to push this agenda to significantly reduce marine debris as offered by SDG 14. She concluded by saying that if we all assume shared responsibilities and work together, it will be possible to solve the problems worldwide.

Elizabeth Hogan of the World Animal Protection introduced a project that she works on called Sea-change. She said that approximately 640000 tons of fishing gear has been abandoned in the oceans, and they persist in marine environments for over 600 years. She also reiterated that it is important to get the lost fishing gear out of the oceans to protect marine species and reduce wildlife entanglement which is causing a decline in marine biodiversity. She talked about the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), which provides a cross-sectoral multi-stakeholder framework committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide.

Meeting: Special event on “Implementing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2030 Agenda: The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) – Protecting oceans and marine animals”

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, 08 June 2016, 1:15pm – 2:45pm / Conference Room 6

Speakers: Ambassador Mahe Uli’ Uli Sandhurst Tupouniu, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Nations, Ambassador Per Thoresson, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations, Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Sweden (Keynote address), Elizabeth Hogan, World Animal Protection Sea Change Campaign Manager (Briefing on ghost gear initiative progress and call for support), Respondents: Permanent Mission of Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau, the Kingdom of Thailand and Vanuatu

Written By: Fred Talah, WIT Representative

Summary By: Modou Cham, WIT, Administrator

Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Resources and Biodiversity

picture1Today an informal working group was convened to discuss the feasibility of an international instrument that would clarify existing legal gaps in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. While all delegations recognize both the need and the opportunity to address issues such as ocean acidification, unsafe fishing practices, and marine pollution, problems arose in discussions over the equitable use of marine genetic resources, the transparency of technology transfer, and the feasibility of such a comprehensive instrument.

Many countries agreed on the practicality of this instrument, stating that under the correct parameters, a consensus could be reached. The Representative of Trinidad and Tobago stated that if they are able to identify a government structure to control the assistance of states in their implementation of the agreed upon regulations, the instrument would be possible. The Representative from the United States, however, was one of the few dissenters, as he remained unconvinced of the need for a new international agreement. He stated that coordination and cooperation through existing bodies was a more cost effective and practical solution to the issues present.

The Representative of Trinidad and Tobago also discussed the need for equitable distribution of marine resources in areas not covered by national jurisdiction, stating that the resources belong to neither the US nor the EU, but instead “are the common heritage of mankind.” In response, the US Representative expressed concern about this proposed benefit sharing regime. It was his belief that the transaction costs of implementing such a program would be so high as to impede the actual research itself, thus doing more harm to all countries involved. The Representative of Cuba addressed the issue of transparency, expressing the belief that it should be universal. Those beliefs were echoed by Representatives from the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, as they all believe that this proposed instrument could facilitate access and transfer of marine technology to all states.

 

Meeting Title: Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction
Speakers: Representative of Algeria; Representative of New Zealand; Representative of the Dominican Republic; Representative of Guatemala; Representative of Ecuador; Representative of Trinidad and Tobago; Representative of Costa Rica; Representative of the United States; Representative of Iceland; Representative of Cuba
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 18 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan