WWF took part in the Our Ocean Conference in Malta, 5-6 October, hosted by the EU. Our Ocean is a conference that unites global leaders that care about ocean conservation and commit to improve ocean health.
The Ocean. Home to incredible creatures. Source of food for millions of people around the world. It is Our Ocean. Is it really, though?
Over time the ocean has been badly mistreated, used as a garbage dump while we harvested as if it was a bank of unlimited resources. We have regarded the ocean as something to exploit in whatever way we wanted and without any consequences. But we are quickly realising that the damage we are doing to the ocean, we are doing to ourselves.
We, Karoline and I, were part of the WWF delegation at the Our Ocean Conference in Malta, hosted by the European Union on October 5 and 6.
Now in its fourth edition, Our Ocean was opened this year by HRH The Prince of Wales who eloquently said ”[...] we are entirely dependent on our small blue planet” followed by Dr Sylvia Earle who pointed out “with knowing comes caring… everyone can make a difference”.
At Our Ocean we felt the sense of urgency for changing the current development model of ocean management and we are pleased to see that it has finally reached the top of the political agenda, both at the regional and global level. This is unprecedented.
The Our Ocean Conference focused on pollution, fisheries, marine protected areas, maritime security and blue economy, catalysing over 437 highly impressive, tangible and measurable commitments from governments, NGOs and private corporations (including Microsoft, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Sky, and many more). Together these announcements totalled 7.27 billion euros in financial pledges (the previous 3 conferences totalled 6 billion euros) and over 2.55 million km2 of additional MPAs. As a major novelty, the 2017 conference for the first time mobilized at scale the business community in the conservation of Our Ocean with corporate leaders making over 100 commitments.
At WWF we were incredibly pleased with the work of the European Commission and the many participants in Malta for the ocean. There is no other way to bend the curve and change the present for a better future. We both left Malta believing that there is a real case for ocean optimism. As John Kerry said, in closing the conference, "The Ocean is in crisis, but the tide is finally changing".
Giuseppe Di Carlo is the Director of WWF's Mediterranean Marine Initiative
Karoline Andaur is the Deputy CEO at WWF-Norway
WWF launched a new report, in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), that estimates that the economic value of ocean assets in the Mediterranean Sea is worth over 450 billion USD. The Mediterranean Sea represents about 20% of global Gross Marine Production in an area which is only 1% of the global ocean. The total ocean asset base of the Mediterranean, from which annual economic production is drawn, represents 5.4 trillion USD, although this is undoubtedly underestimated as it does not take into account the intrinsic value of biodiversity and it excludes the many potential ecosystem services and values that have not yet been measured. The report presents a set of recommendations to promote a sustainable blue economy and to urgently preserve the Mediterranean's valuable ocean assets that today are at stake. Download the report.
What is the economic value of the Mediterranean Sea? Marine assets in the
Mediterranean Sea generate much more value than we are aware of and could provide even more if well managed.
Decades of damaging, and often unregulated, economic activity in the Mediterranean Sea have taken a toll—and the region’s ecological health is in decline.
Tourism represents more than 90% of the annual ocean-based economic output of the Mediterranean. A predicted growth in tourism will lead to potential conflicts for the use of space in coastal areas.
The Mediterranean fisheries sector, another key contributor to the region’s economy, has been in a deepening crisis in recent years. It still has an estimated collective worth of over US$3 billion and directly employs more than 180,000 people.
WWF and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and Black Sea launched a new, collaborative partnership platform to scale up the support to Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean. This platform convenes regional actors (MedPAN, LIFE, MedAC) to join forces, explore synergies and develop targeted actions towards sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, improving livelihoods and food security.
“There is a real sense of urgency to empower small-scale fishers across the region to shift towards recovered stocks and sustainable practices. This challenge can only be solved through strong and forward-looking partnerships that can work alongside fishers with innovative solutions aimed at improved livelihoods and sustainable economic development” said Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of WWF's Mediterranean Marine Initiative.
WWF also brought its new investment of 8.3 million euros to transform Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean as a commitment at the Our Ocean Conference. This five year programme will work with small-scale fisher-people across the Mediterranean in Italy, Greece, Croatia, and Turkey and incorporate WWF’s ongoing work in Algeria, Albania, Spain, France and Tunisia. All together, these nine countries represent more than sixty per cent of the Small-Scale Fisheries sector in the Mediterranean.
Fishing communities are recognizing that their future is in their hands and that only by reconciling fishing with the restoration of the marine environment will they be able to recover stocks, increase catches, and ultimately improve their livelihoods. Read more.
WWF's co-management approach allows us to find common ground, and it’s proving to be more sustainable and more profitable. We see tremendous opportunity in working with fishermen to protect the region’s livelihoods, culture and environment. Read more.
WWF has revealed new evidence of plastic contamination of cetaceans in the Mediterranean, analysing biopsies of almost 100 marine mammals (3 whale species) living in the Pelagos Sanctuary. The results of this research also provide an indication of the extent of plastic pollution beyond the Sanctuary borders in the entire Mediterranean Sea.Read More
The International MPAs Congress (IMPAC4) held in Chile last September captured the many challenges facing the oceans and the approaches and solutions being pursued. WWF launched the Ocean Witness Platform to elevate and amplify the voices of those affected by changes in the ocean. It will be a community building platform to bring together organizations and people who are dependent on the oceans.
At IMPAC4 the Mediterranean Marine Initiative launched this video on the power of MPAs for the management of small scale fisheries.
WWF Greece's CYCLADES LIFE team recently completed three underwater trails for snorkeling and scuba diving in Gyaros and Syros, the islands at the heart of the Aegean where the project is being implemented.
In areas with intense competition for space and resources, evaluation of the effects of MPAs is crucial. In the human-dominated Mediterranean Sea, fully protected areas occupy only 0.04% of the surface area. We evaluated the impacts of protection in 24 Mediterranean MPAs.Read more
WWF applauds the adoption by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the EU proposal for the establishment of a Fisheries Restricted Area in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit situated in the central Adriatic between Italy and Croatia.