Sustainable Development Goal 14 calls for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources.
The first UN Ocean Conference was welcomed by John Tanzer, WWF International’s Oceans Leader, but he warned that urgent action to counteract threats was needed, adding “by turning the tide now, we can secure food supplies, livelihoods and enhanced well-being for hundreds of millions”.
WWF advocates the protection of critical habitats for fisheries and tourism assets, and at least 30 per cent of mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds and other key ecosystems; minimizing the effects of climate change on coral reefs, mangroves, polar regions and other vulnerable ecosystems; stopping destructive fishing methods, reducing bycatch, and driving sustainable fishing by removing harmful fisheries subsidies globally; fast-tracking a legally-binding high-seas biodiversity agreement; and reducing plastic and micro-plastic production while improving recycling and waste management.
WWF welcomes urgent new efforts to save the vaquita porpoise and will support implementation and monitoring.
First, the Mexican government banned the use of gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California and committed to developing new gear and techniques to allow local fishermen to fish sustainably.
Then, because of the campaign, the government began working with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Carlos Slim Foundation, agreeing collectively to support emergency measures to conserve the critically endangered vaquita and Upper Gulf ecosystem.
WWF also urges the development of a comprehensive vaquita recovery plan, including the immediate authorization of existing alternative fishing gear; a prohibition of the transport and/or possession of gillnets in and around the Upper Gulf; and coordinated efforts by the Mexican US, and Chinese governments to end the illegal trafficking of totoaba swim bladders that is driving the vaquita’s loss.
Deforestation and forest degradation contribute 20 per cent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. This threat to the world’s climate led to the UN’s Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), which offers incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
WWF has played a key role in the REDD+ process in Mai-Ndombe since 2010, and now 13 community forestry concessions have been handed over to local communities. They, with continuing WWF and forestry administration support, will develop local projects including agriculture, beekeeping, legal logging or simply maintaining the forests as nature reserves.
On granting the concessions, the Provincial Governor urged them to “…make good use of these concessions … protect the forests and impede illegal exploitation”.
Excellent news for Madgascar’s extraordinary biodiversity – with WWF, five wetlands have been newly designated under the Ramsar Convention.
The Zones humides de l’Onilahy provide key habitats for 27 mammal, 56 reptile and 79 bird species; l’archipel des îles Barren supports exceptional ecosystems, home to 39 coral genera, 150 fish species, five threatened bird and sea turtle species, eight threatened sharks and the critically endangered coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae; les mangroves de Tsiribihina – 8.5 per cent of Madagascar’s mangroves – are home to the Propithecus verreauxi lemur, Madagascan flying fox and critically endangered hawksbill turtle; Lake Sofia supports 36 species of waterbird, including five endangered species; and the Zones humides d’Ambondrombe is a conservation area for endemic and endangered species including the Madagascar sacred ibis and big-headed turtle.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of an Eastern Pacific tuna fishery is on hold after WWF raised strong concerns that its impacts on depleted dolphin populations had not been fully examined and addressed.
One of the fishing techniques involves targeting schools of tuna associated with dolphins, a practice that historically contributes to high dolphin mortality.
Despite reductions in the number of dolphins killed this way in recent years, it is not known whether populations have recovered from the dramatic declines of the 1950s to early 1990s. “Given the historical impact of the techniques used by this fishery, it was critical to WWF that the MSC assessment was done carefully and in strict accordance with MSC requirements,” said WWF-Germany’s Seafood Officer and WWF global team leader Franck Hollander.
The latest monitoring results shared by the Fundación Vida Silvestre, WWF’s associate in Argentina, show that there are now 71–107 jaguars living in the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest, including the Iguaçu National Park in Brazil – up from 30–54 in 2005.
Vida Silvestre is celebrating after 15 years of working to conserve the jaguars – supported by WWF and trinational cooperation between its teams in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
“Our aim is to have a stable population of around 250 jaguars in the area,” said Manuel Jaramillo, Managing Director of Vida Silvestre.
Since 2016, Vida Silvestre has worked to conserve and connect forest patches and strengthened action to reduce poaching pressure on the jaguar and their prey.
And now Vida Silvestre is working with model farms to reduce conflict between livestock farmers and the big cats.