2nd Oceans Forum on Trade-related Aspects of SDG 14: Enabling sustainable and integrated seafood and living marine resources value chains and related services
The Oceans Forum is a unique global platform to take stock, exchange experiences and present options for the implementation of trade-related targets of SDG 14 (Targets 4, 6, 7 and b) through the involvement of leading United Nations Agencies, regional bodies, government institutions and civil society organizations.
The Second Oceans Forum (16-17 July 2018) focused on challenges and opportunities that sustainability and further integration of the seafood value chain and related services may present within the framework of the sustainable blue economy.
Chaired by the Special UN Envoy for the Ocean, Mr. Peter Thomson of Fiji, the Forum provided state of the art analysis, country experiences and public and private best practices to bring sustainability into the seafood value chain and trade. It developed forward looking recommendations in the context of the oceans, blue economy and trade, including on reforming subsidies, on value chain integration, transport, resilience, capacity building and interagency collaboration. It also provided a timely opportunity for Member States and other stakeholders to present their views on various trade-related aspects of SDG 14, including fisheries subsidies.
Fish and seafood is one of the most traded food commodities in the world. Some 38 per cent of world production enters international trade, of which more than half originates in developing countries. The net trade income for developing countries (export – import), valued at US$ 36 billion in 2016, is greater than all other agricultural commodities combined. Around 58 million people are directly employed in fisheries and aquaculture, with some 200 million direct and indirect employment opportunities occurring along the value chain from harvesting to distribution. Hence the livelihoods of some 660 to 880 million people depend on the sector. However, the basis of this prosperity is fragile, as wild stocks are under increasing pressure.
Consumption of fish and seafood has more than doubled since 1973, while the amount caught in wild has stagnated. To meet our growing appetite for seafood, the exploitation of our living aquatic resources has expanded rapidly and often in an unsustainable manner. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the share of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels decreased from 90 per cent in 1974 to only 66.9 per cent in 2015, resulting in an estimated loss of US$ 83bn each year. To facilitate the transition to sustainable ocean-based economies, we need to address unsustainable practices in the fishing industry across the entire value chain.
A systems-wide approach is required, which situates fish and seafood value chains within the context of a broader oceans/blue economy, in recognition of the linkages between sectors. Participating in multiple value chains which service different sectors can enhance the diversification of inputs (e.g. seaweed) and outputs (e.g. nutraceuticals). Coastal and insular developing countries need to ensure that interlinkages between the seafood sector and other key sectors such as transport, logistics and tourism services are a key priority in their oceans/blue economy strategies to increase value addition, as has already been demonstrated for Mauritius, Seychelles and Cape Verde. UN Environment, the UN Conference for Trade and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Economic Conference for Europe, the Commonwealth, the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Group and the International Oceans Institute (IOI) are ready to support countries to develop their own oceans economy and trade strategies to improve value addition, market access, diversification and environmental and social sustainability.