The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati has stepped forward to lead an action group on sustainable coastal fisheries, as part of the Commonwealth Blue Charter.
The action group will rally countries together to share knowledge and best practices, align actions on sustainable fisheries and mobilise funding to support their joint initiatives.
Making the announcement at a high-level reception at the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid, Spain, the President of Kiribati, Taneti Maamau, said: “The importance of coastal fisheries resonates in many Commonwealth countries, as it supports tourism, food security, recreation, livelihoods and provides diverse trading opportunities to strengthen national economies.
“Kiribati will do its earnest to secure the sustainability of coastal fisheries on our collective behalf through partnership with countries who wish to share that endeavour.”
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland added: “The emergency is more pressing and the time is running out for all of us to address the health and sustainable use of the oceans. We need coordinated, fast-track action to tackle the interlinked challenges of climate change and the threats facing the ocean.”
The ocean is of particular significance for the Commonwealth. Forty-six out of 53 member states have a marine coast and three landlocked members border Great Lakes. One third of all marine waters in national jurisdictions are in the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Blue Charter was agreed by Commonwealth heads of government in April 2018, as a platform to drive active cooperation on ocean governance. Countries step forward as ‘champions’ on specific ocean issues, and rally other members and partners to join action groups on each issue.
Kiribati is the 13th champion country stepping forward to lead the 10th action group under the Blue Charter.
Others include: Sustainable Aquaculture (led by Cyprus), Sustainable Blue Economy (Kenya), Coral Reef Protection and Restoration (jointly led by Australia, Belize, Mauritius), Mangrove Restoration (Sri Lanka), Ocean Acidification (New Zealand), Ocean and Climate Change (Fiji), Ocean Observations (Canada), Marine Plastic Pollution (co-championed by the United Kingdom and Vanuatu) and Marine Protected Areas (Seychelles).