With 2019 slowly coming to an end, we are about to enter the final year of this decade. For those of us who try to keep up with the news, it may sometimes seem like the amount of disheartening information is overwhelming – our beloved marine ecosystems are polluted, overfished, and degraded, and an increasing number of species are on the brink of extinction. Although these threats are real and require urgent action, it is also important to keep in mind the countless efforts to protect and preserve marine environments around the world. For this blog post, we have collected some major milestones in marine conservation throughout the last years.
After the adoption of the new European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in 2008, the international conference on “Progress in Marine Conservation in Europe 2009” was hosted in Stralsund, Germany. This conference provided a forum for in-depth discussions on continuously important and emerging marine nature conservation issues in Europe, including conversations on new marine management measures and tools, implementation status of the European Marine Protected Area networks and meeting first steps towards the biodiversity aims of the MSFD.
In 2010, the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10), took place in Nagoya, Japan. During this conference, the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 was adopted, including some relevant targets for marine environment:
- Target 6: All fish stocks etc. to be managed sustainably by 2020
- Target 11: By 2020, at least 10% of marine and coastal areas to be effectively conserved with well-connected MPAs and other measures
Several governments and conservation organizations successfully advocated for the inclusion of seven species of sharks and rays through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The CBD COP 12 in South Korea achieves the listing of 204 Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), marking an important step towards a global network of marine protected areas.
2015 marks the year of Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals as part of a new global agenda on sustainable development, adopted by the United Nations. SDG 14 is particularly committed to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” and focuses on the following issues:
- Ocean acidification
- Sustainable development of fisheries and maintenance of fish stocks
- Protection of marine key biodiversity areas
- Measures against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
- Promotion of small-scale fisheries
The Marine Protected Area Fund was launched by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) to assist countries in achieving their United Nations’ SDG 14 target of protecting 10% of their marine and coastal waters by 2020. Furthermore, the 2013 partnership succeeded in pressing for the listing of devil rays, thresher sharks, and the silky shark under CITES for the regulation of sustainable and legal trade in those species.
The United Nations Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea concluded its 19th meeting (ICP19) on the 22nd of June 2018 in New York, USA. This meeting focused on the issue of anthropogenic underwater noise and agreed on the following conclusions:
- Underwater noise acknowledged as a form of marine pollution.
- Socio-economic impacts of activities emitting noise into the ocean to be investigated in a global context.
- Call on the international community to implement the guidelines developed by two conventions within the UN framework – the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – on environmental impact assessments prior to noise-generating activities and on reducing underwater noise from commercial shipping.
- Call on countries to adopt regulations which create incentives for the development of noise reducing technologies.
Three proposals to include 18 additional species of sharks and rays on Appendix II of CITES were officially adopted at CITES CoP18 in Geneva, Switzerland. Although it is a great success that more commercially valuable and internationally traded marine species were added to the CITES Appendices, the struggle of implementing regulations has only begun.
“The good news is that, over the past few years, CITES Parties and other stakeholders have invested significant resources and effort in supporting the implementation of CITES rules for marine species. This reflects the significant expansion of the long-standing role of CITES in regulating and monitoring international trade in marine species.”
Save the date – important meetings and conferences in 2020
2020 will be an exciting and extremely important year for environmental protection, as the international community will have to assess how many of their goals and targets from numerous treaties and agreements they have achieved. These are some of the key meetings and conferences to look out for:
2–6 June: UN Ocean Conference, Lisbon, Portugal
Co-hosted by the governments of Kenya and Portugal, the Conference is expected to adopt an intergovernmental declaration on science-based and innovative areas of action, along with a list of voluntary commitments, to support implementation of SDG 14 (Life Below Water).
The overarching theme of the Conference is “Scaling Up Ocean Action Based on Science and Innovation for the Implementation of Goal 14: Stocktaking, Partnerships and Solutions”. The meeting takes place three years after the first Ocean Conference.
5 June: World Environment Day
8 June: World Oceans Day
23–28 August: Water and Climate Change: Accelerating Action, Stockholm, Sweden
This year, World Water Week will focus on science and innovation.
27 September: 5th anniversary of the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals
5–10 October: UN Biodiversity Conference: “Convention on Biological Diversity COP 15” in Kunming, Yunnan, China
COP 15 will review the achievement and delivery of the Convention’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020. It is also anticipated that the final decision on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be taken, together with decisions on related topics including capacity-building and resource mobilization.
Stay tuned for more updates! And don’t forget that every small action taken by individuals, for example a beach cleanup, is just as relevant as international meetings. We wish all of you Ocean Warriors out there a great start into the next year and are excited to hear more inspiring stories from you. Keep up the great work 🙂
P.S.: Temple Reef Foundation is still looking for interns! Wanna dedicate the new year to marine conservation? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and join our team!
your Temple Reef Foundation & Temple Adventures Team
post edited by Desi 🙂