Oceans under pressure

01 December 2017 | Fishing

Otis Finck

Oceans are and will continue to be of huge importance to economies, people’s lives and for solving global challenges tied to poverty and hunger, says the United Nations (UN) resident coordinator and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative to Namibia, Kiki Ghebo.

According to the UN more than 3 billion people depend on fish for their intake of animal protein. Over half of global fisheries are however exhausted and a further third are depleted due to overfishing.

Gehbo emphasised that national strategies such as the NDP 5, the Harambee Prosperity Plan and the Blue Print on Poverty Eradication and Wealth Redistribution therefore place a high premium on the sustainable management of oceans.

“Approximately 40% of the world’s oceans are heavily affected by human activities including pollution and depleted fisheries while 70% of coral reefs are threatened. Countries and industries are increasingly looking to oceans for more economic opportunities, more food and more extractives. The world is going farther and deeper into the seas to extract, living and non-living marine resources.”

The Norwegian ambassador to Namibia, Trine Skymoen, agrees with Gehbo. She said oceans are facing serious threats and challenges.

“These include overfishing, illegal fishing, environmental toxins, plastic waste and loss of biodiversity. Climate change is also impacting the oceans and may lead to sea level rise, ocean acidification and possible shifts in the distribution of important fish stocks. The work carried out by the Nansen programme, the Namibian fisheries administration and the Benguela Current Convention are therefore of imperative importance to address these challenges.”

Skymoen added that sustainable fisheries management is a key component and said clean and healthy oceans remain the best guarantee to be able to harvest this rich resource.

“Sustainable fisheries management cannot rest on data and knowledge alone. Laws, regulations, sufficient control of the fisheries activities and sanctions when violations occur, need to be in place.”

The global market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at N$3 trillion annual which is 5% of global GDP according to the UN.

Ghebo also pointed out that feeding the growing global population which is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, will require a significant increase in the productivity of agricultural sectors while conserving the worlds natural resources. She added that fighting rural poverty remains the biggest challenge with more than three quarters of the world’s extreme poor living in rural areas.

Globally almost 800 million people still live in poverty according to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef). More than 22 000 children die every day due to poverty and one in four children under the age of five years are at a risk of dying as a result of malnutrition associated diseases.

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