Fishing plays an important role in the Seychelles economy, with a fishing industry worth around US$400 million and per capita fish consumption levels more than twice the global average. Despite this, aquaculture has been slow to develop. However, there is a renewed focus on building a sustainable mariculture sector through the Blue Economy Strategic Framework and Roadmap, launched in 2018.
Global aquaculture production continues to grow rapidly, helping several Commonwealth countries to increase their fish production despite static or falling catches of wild fish.
However, performance varies widely and many countries, despite committing significant resources, have struggled to build productive aquaculture industries, while many questions continue to be asked about the sustainability of aquaculture practices.
This webinar will examine four case studies that could offer scalable solutions –
- Cyprus, where a development framework for aquaculture development helped the growth of marine finfish industry.
- Seychelles, where sustainable aquaculture development is prioritised in the Blue Economy Strategic Framework and Roadmap.
- Mozambique, where a commercial fish farm highlights the importance of community engagement.
- Egypt, where fish farmers upgraded their farming practices to stay competitive and improve the sustainability of the sector.
Watch the highlights video
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The webinar is part of a wider series of virtual events that promote collaboration through the sharing of experiences, best practices and solutions on ocean issues. They also offer the opportunity to reflect on how to move forward with ocean management in a post-COVID-19 world.
For more information contact: [email protected]
The Commonwealth Secretary-General is urging governments to ensure their countries’ post-COVID economic recoveries are environmentally sustainable and safe for the ocean.
Forty-seven of the Commonwealth’s 54 member countries have a coastline while 25 are either small island developing states or ‘big ocean states’ relying heavily on the ocean for food and income.
Sustainable blue and green economies
On World Oceans Day (8 June), Secretary-General Patricia Scotland calls on countries to reform development strategies in a way that supports vibrant and sustainable blue and green economies.
She said: “The ocean is the life blood of so many Commonwealth countries and our environment should be the cornerstone as we put plans in place to recover our economies. The Commonwealth covers more than a third of coastal oceans in the world, contributing to a global ocean-based economy valued at US$3 to 6 trillion per year.
“COVID-19 impact has radically altered some of our key economic sectors and transformed the way we live, communicate and do business. While the fallout from the pandemic has had a huge impact on our blue economies, it also presents a crucial opportunity to strategise on how to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable economic practices built on climate resilience and ocean sustainability.
“The Commonwealth Blue Charter is one of the most effective platforms for global ocean action in the international landscape today. I commend the work of our member countries through the action groups and welcome the support we have received from national, regional and global partners, enabling us to mobilise together for ocean health.”
Blue Charter action groups
The Blue Charter is the Commonwealth’s commitment to work together to protect the ocean and meet global ocean commitments. Ten action groups, led by 13 champion countries, are driving the flagship initiative. More than 40 countries have signed up to one or more of these action groups, and counting.
Commonwealth Blue Charter action groups include:
- Sustainable Aquaculture (led by Cyprus)
- Sustainable Blue Economy (Kenya)
- Coral Reef Protection and Restoration (Australia, Belize, Mauritius)
- Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods (Sri Lanka)
- Ocean Acidification (New Zealand)
- Ocean and Climate Change (Fiji)
- Ocean Observations (Canada)
- Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (marine plastic pollution – United Kingdom, Vanuatu)
- Marine Protected Areas (Seychelles)
- Sustainable Coastal Fisheries (Kiribati)
Members of the private sector, academia and civil society – including Vulcan Inc, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Nekton Foundation and many others – are also engaged as Blue Charter partners.
Commonwealth countries have outlined a joint plan to boost economic growth and food security through the sustainable farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants.
Aquaculture generates more than half of the seafood people eat across the world, and sustains some 26 million jobs. This translates to about 80 million tonnes of fish produced globally per year (up from 3 million in 1970), valued at around US$ 240 billion.
Nine countries are now joining forces to explore ways of expanding the sector within the Commonwealth. They are part of the Blue Charter action group on sustainable aquaculture, whose aim is to develop local communities, create more jobs, produce high quality food, while ensuring a healthy ocean.
To date, members include: Cyprus (as the lead or ‘champion’ country), The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Seychelles and Trinidad and Tobago.
Following the action group’s inaugural meeting in Cyprus on 25-27 February, the Director of Fisheries and Marine Resourses, Ms Marina Argyrou said: “Aquaculture, being the fastest growing food producing industry on a global scale, has an important role in contributing to food security, creating employment opportunities, as well as improving the welfare of local communities.
“It also has the potential to provide environmental services in the framework of fisheries re-stocking programmes, as well as restoration projects for mangroves and corals.”
Ms Argyrou referred to aquaculture as a “main pillar of blue growth”, adding that: “It is our obligation to develop it in a sustainable way so as it will be financially viable, socially acceptable and environmentally compatible.”
The Action group will assess aquaculture practices in member states, outline shared priorities for action, and establish a framework for cooperation with the European Union and other international organisations.
It is one of 10 such groups under the Commonwealth Blue Charter – an agreement by all Commonwealth leaders to cooperate actively to protect ocean health and promote good ocean governance.
These action groups are led by ‘champion’ countries have stepped forward to rally members around key ocean issues, such as marine pollution, climate change, ocean acidification and the sustainable blue economy.
Ms Argyou concluded: “Cyprus is honoured to champion the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on sustainable aquaculture. We hope this platform will spur action among like-minded countries and partners, with a focus on knowledge-sharing, cooperation, and taking a science-based approach to sustainably develop our activities.”
Countries driving the Commonwealth Blue Charter project will meet in Cyprus from 21 to 24 March 2020. They will reflect on what they’ve achieved over the past year, and agree on a strategy for the coming year.
The Commonwealth Blue Charter is a landmark agreement by leaders to cooperate on ocean action. Since launching in 2018, 10 action groups led by 13 ‘champion’ countries have rallied Commonwealth members around pressing ocean issues like marine pollution, coral reef restoration and climate change.
Champion countries will share experiences, best practices and new ideas.
A 14-strong international panel working to accelerate action for ocean protection features seven Commonwealth member countries.
Australia, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Ghana, Jamaica and Kenya all helped produce a report unveiled at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit which found that ocean-based climate action can play a much bigger role in shrinking the world’s carbon footprint than was previously thought.
In fact it could deliver up to a fifth of the annual greenhouse gas emissions cuts needed in 2050 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Reductions of this magnitude are larger than annual emissions from all current coal fired power plants world-wide.
The report, launched in New York, is entitled ‘Ocean as a Solution for Climate Change: 5 Opportunities for Action’ and was produced by an expert international high-level panel made up of 14 heads of state and government.
The study is the first ever comprehensive, quantitative analysis into the role ocean-based solutions can play in the fight against climate change.
The report suggests the following solutions would help curb climate change, contribute to the development of a sustainable ocean economy, protect coastal communities from storms, provide jobs and improve food security:
- Scaling up ocean-based renewable energy – which could save up to 5.4 gigatonnes of CO2e annually by 2050, equivalent to taking over a billion cars off the road each year.
- Decarbonising domestic and international shipping and transport – which could cut up to 1.8 gigatonnes of CO2e annually by 2050.
- Increasing the protection and restoration of “blue carbon” ecosystems – mangroves, seagrasses and salt marshes – could prevent approximately 1 gigatonne of CO2e from entering the atmosphere by 2050.
- Utilising low-carbon sources of protein from the ocean, such as seafood and seaweeds, to help feed future populations in a healthy and sustainable way
Australia is investing AUD$70 million in the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), a 10-year $329 million collaboration between 45 Australian and international partners to develop innovative and sustainable offshore industries to increase Australian seafood and marine renewable energy production.
Fiji is committing to making its shipping sector 100 per cent carbon-free by 2050 while Kenya will incorporate blue carbon ecosystems into its nationally determined contribution, in partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF.
Namibia is committing an additional US$5 million towards ocean research and protection over 2019/2020.
The report comes on the back of significant progress on the Commonwealth Blue Charter, Agreed unanimously by leaders in April 2018, the Blue Charter commits all 53 member countries to work together on solving crucial ocean-related challenges.
To date, 12 ‘champion’ countries have stepped forward to rally fellow members around nine key areas, including marine pollution, ocean acidification and the sustainable blue economy.
‘Fiji is leading on the Blue Charter Action Group on ‘oceans and climate change’, Kenya on the ‘sustainable blue economy’, Australia is co-leading on ‘coral reef protection and restoration’ and Canada on ‘ocean observation’.
Commonwealth Head of Ocean and Natural Resources, Nick Hardman-Mountford, said: “This report unequivocally shows that ocean based climate action is integral to reducing the global carbon footprint.
“Commonwealth countries have already come forward with game changing commitments. The Commonwealth Blue Charter that all Commonwealth countries adopted last year provides an action-orientated collaborative mechanism for countries to address ocean issues. We look forward to working with the Commonwealth countries to share experiences, take real action and lead the way forward.”
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said: “Fiji is leading Pacific Island States in a united and visionary response to the ocean’s untapped potential to combat global warming.
“We are collectively committed to cutting 40 per cent of emissions from Pacific shipping by 2030, and we’re making our shipping sector 100 per cent carbon-free by 2050. Together, we’re moving towards managing our waters sustainably.”
‘This report was swiftly followed by a study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which warned that humanity is in a race against the pace of climate change and our ability to respond to it and calls for urgent, ambitious and collaborative action.