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Environmental conservation is an often-forgotten aspect of reducing global poverty and providing sustainable income for coastal communities. Conserving the ocean has become an even more pressing issue now because of overfishing. However, one company is putting this at the forefront of their work. Rare’s Fish Forever campaign is working to end the unprecedented endangerment of our coastal waters and protect the families who depend on them.

What Is Rare’s Fish Forever?

Founded in 1995 by Brett Jenks, Rare is an organization with a focus on conservation as a means to protect the world’s most vulnerable people and ensure that the wetlands, forests and oceans they depend on continue to thrive. Fish Forever is a campaign that targets coastal revitalization and conserving biodiversity along coastlines through bottom-up solutions. Jenks says, “The aim isn’t to teach a community to fish; it’s to help ensure they can fish forever.” Ensuring a future for these coastal communities relies on sustainable fishing practices.

Rare’s Fish Forever campaign uses community-led initiatives to provide solutions to issues like overfishing and coastal mismanagement because it empowers local populations and incentivizes future compliance with new regulations. These local people work with all levels of their government to come up with solutions that fit their unique situation. Active in Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Belize and Mozambique, Rare’s Fish Forever acts as a guide for communities while also providing tools the improve the data needed for these countries to make informed decisions.

Fish Forever in Mozambique

Mozambique is an African country with more than 1,500 miles of coastline, sustaining millions of people. Half of the population lives on the coastline in fishing communities. In fact, the economy is largely dependent on fisheries, particularly small-scale or artisan fisheries. Almost 85 percent of all fish caught in Mozambique are done so on a small-scale. Communities such as those in the Nampula, Sofala, Inhambane, Maputa and Cabo Delgado regions are good candidates for Rare’s Fish Forever solutions because they are home to most of the small-scale fisherman.

The country’s coastline is very diverse, second only to the Coral Triangle. However, due to climate change and unregulated fishing, the size of the fish catches has declined. In the last 25 years, small-scale catch sizes have declined 30 percent, and it is continuing to decline. Additionally, fisherman asserted that some species of fish had all-together disappeared. Climate change would only worsen these issues, so Rare’s Fish Forever worked with communities to come up with solutions to this threat. Together with Rare’s Fish Forever program, communities came up with four broad solutions to revitalize coastlines, protect biodiversity and ensuring sizeable fish catches for families.

  1. First, they decided to adopt government frameworks to better regulate fishing behaviors and make fishing more sustainable.
  2. Then, they built and strengthened community-based management of coastal fisheries.
  3. Thirdly, communities established fishing areas with managed access – places where fishing was prohibited or limited – and provided social and economic benefits to communities who abided by these rules.
  4. Lastly, they made environmental conservation more of the social norm through education and marketing campaigns.

All in all, Mozambique is on its way to recovery. With more than 100 organizations and institutions supporting Rare’s Fish Forever program, the country’s coastal waters and fishing communities are in good hands. That means a higher chance of conserving the ocean.

Rare’s Fish Forever in the Philippines

Coastal communities in the Philippines face the same sorts of issues as those in Mozambique. Looc Bay is a beautiful location that is home to many communities and attracts its fair share of tourists. Unfortunately, a combination of overfishing by local fisherman and environmental degradation from irresponsible tourism have caused a significant decline in the fish populations. This has only been accelerated by climate change.

The communities in the area have always been wary of external intervention. Their greatest worry when initially approached by Rare’s Fish Forever program was that coastal management would restrict fishing to a point that families could no longer sustain themselves through small-scale fishing. This distrust was fortunately misplaced.

Today, more than 4.4 square miles of coastal waters have been declared as Managed Access Areas and sanctuaries. These protected critical habitats require exclusive clearance, which is only granted to fisherman who comply with sustainable practices. To date, more than 800 fishermen have been granted exclusive access area, meaning that they are also faithful practitioners of sustainable fishing.

Jose Ambrocio, the Looc Municipal Councilor and chairperson of the Agricultural and Environmental Committee, has noted that “With Rare’s Fish Forever program, we are working to balance the economic needs of the people and the need to conserve the resources for the future generation.”

By challenging communities to develop their own solutions, Rare’s Fish Forever program is sustainable and empowering. Through this program, and programs like it, more sustainable fishing practices can be put into place, thus working towards a better future by conserving the ocean.

Julian Mok
Photo: Flickr

Hurdling Over Causes of Poverty in Palau

Palau is an island country located in the west Pacific Ocean. The country has attempted to circumvent the common causes of poverty in Palau by bringing the United States on board with its economic policies.

History
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United Nations assigned the U.S. the task of administering authority in a few Pacific islands, including Palau. The U.S. helped Palau by building roads, hospitals and schools and eventually extending eligibility for U.S. federal programs. Palau flourished and obtained independence in 1994. As a sovereign nation, Palau makes its own decisions about its economy.

A Helping Hand
As of 2008, the U.S. hoped to influence Palau’s economy for the better, keeping economic-related causes of poverty in Palau at bay. The U.S. continued to give millions to Palau’s economy, especially through federal programs. The U.S. also made sure to assist private sector growth in Palau. The U.S. economic support in Palau is essential to ensure Palau’s financial system, labor and commercial sectors are thriving. If these vital sectors collapsed, the general population would face poverty because the country would experience a great drain of economic power.

Between 1995 and 2009, the U.S. gave approximately $852 million to Palau to help the island become a self-sufficient economy.

Does the Aid Help?
While Palau businesses’ financial coffers are seemingly robust due to U.S. aid, there are disproportionate sectors of the population that continue to face common causes of poverty. For example, since Palau is an island, some of its population earns a living through fishing.

Fishing is an accessible way to earn a living to keep poverty at bay. However, almost a third of the fish stocks in the world are overfished or overused. Trade barriers also prevent local fishermen and producers from meeting the high standards that international markets demand. Overfishing causes damage to nature and to the cycle of life. In turn, fishermen may be damaging their financial futures.

Fortunately, Palau noted that fishing would help erode poverty in its more remote areas. The government of Palau started a shark sanctuary. The idea behind the sanctuary was to encourage conversation about conservation and to draw a higher number of tourists to boost the local economy.

Tourism is a leading economic contributor to revenue in Palau. There was a dramatic increase in visitors from relatively nearby China. In 2016, Palau hosted over 138,000 tourists—not only from China, but around the world. Now, Palau plans on preserving its natural beauty, including its fisheries, to continue to benefit from this revenue.

By having the U.S. support its economic endeavors and establishing its own industries, Palau is ensuring that it has a sound plan to effectively combat any remaining causes of poverty in Palau.

Smriti Krishnan

Photo: Flickr

Unregulated Fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) results in billions of dollars of lost revenue annually. A recent, groundbreaking treaty passed by the U.N. combats the threat against this natural resource and protects the livelihood of millions.

The Problem

Globally, IUU fishing costs $23 billion each year, with West Africa alone seeing a loss of US $1.3 billion each year. IUU fishing affects West Africa the most dramatically, with unregulated fishing comprising one-third to one-half of all fishing. One in four jobs in the region are linked to the fishing industry, further exacerbating the devastating effects of illegal fishing.

Employment, trade, and food nutrition and security in W. Africa depend heavily on fisheries. As a result, illegal fishing can put the livelihoods of millions of people at risk. In recent years, the increased demand for fish worsened the economic losses seen as a result of illegal fishing.

The majority of IUU fishing in W. Africa can be traced back to vessels coming from East Asia and Russia. Smaller nations, such as Senegal and Mauritania, lack sufficient resources to monitor illegal fishing off their coasts. Scarce resources also prevent developing nations from monitoring legal fishing agreements made with the European Union, Southeast Asia, and Russia.

The inability to monitor illicit and illegal fishing practices destroys Africa’s potential for a “Blue Revolution” in ocean management. With access to the sea, Africa’s economy would greatly benefit from a boom in the fishing industry. However, IUU fishing and minimal capacity to monitor it jeopardizes economic growth.

Not only does IUU fishing result in loss of revenue, it also contributes to global overfishing. Overfishing is a significant problem and could be quelled through increased monitoring of illegal fishing practices. Doing so would help guarantee the sustainability of the industry in the future.

Experts predict that by 2030, 80 percent of the world’s poor will live in Africa. Kofi Annan, former U.N. Secretary-General, states that this prediction could be prevented, “if the runaway plunder of natural resources is brought to a stop. Across the continent, this plunder is prolonging poverty amidst plenty. It has to stop, now.”

The Solution

Originally adopted as a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) agreement in 2009, the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) became an international accord on June 5, 2016.

Twenty-nine countries signed onto the treaty including Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, the European Union (as a member organization), Gabon, Guinea, Guyana, Iceland, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Palau, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, the United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

PSMA changed the requirements for monitoring IUU fishing. Historically, each country monitored its own fleets. The new treaty shifts this responsibility, calling for ports to track information on each vessel upon entrance.

Port state measures are more efficient and cost-effective for fighting illegal fishing. By detecting illegal fishing, stopping ill-caught fish from being sold, and sharing fishing vessel information globally, PSMA will improve the oversight of the fishing industry and lessen the resource limitations faced by developing countries.

The treaty also requires wealthier countries to aid those with minimal resources. South Korea has already committed to making a financial contribution and other nations are expected to follow this example. In addition, the treaty installed the Technical Cooperation Programme and a Global Capacity Development Umbrella Programme to assist with logistical, legislative and legal aspects of implementing the agreement.

The adoption of PSMA also contributes to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by promoting the conservation of and sustainable use of oceans, specifically targeting IUU fishing.

Despite the strides made with the new treaty, the U.N. urges stronger implementation of PSMA. Combatting IUU fishing still faces resource and capacity restraints and the world will not see a decline in illegal fishing without action by the international community.

Anna O’Toole

Sustainable Fishing in Indonesia
The practice of overfishing can have catastrophic effects on both marine biodiversity and local fish populations. In an effort to ameliorate overfishing while simultaneously bolstering local development and entrepreneurship, the Indonesian government has enacted a program that encourages sustainable fishing in Karimunjawa National Park.

For the past 5 years, Indonesian government officials have implemented a plan that effectively hands over management of the 1,100 square kilometer area to the park’s 9,000 residents. By enabling communities to form a co-op, they help encourage the long term goals of maintaining sustainable fishing practices, thus promoting foreign tourism and greater economic opportunity for their residents.

In addition to the environmental benefits that sustainable fishing has had, the empowered local communities have also stepped up to participate in local projects and political meetings, a behavior considered invaluable in long term developmental sustainability. In regards to the development in the National Park, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Marine Program Dr. McClennen remarked that “The current plan’s economic, legal, and participatory incentives have created a self-perpetuating system of exclusive access rights for local communities, who in turn support and enforce the protected area’s policies and regulations.”

Programs such as these, that combine the well-researched policies of the government along with the participation of local communities, consistently lead to positive results and mutually beneficial economic opportunities. Furthermore, by encouraging sustainable fishing through government development, both parties can realize their full potential for responsible environmental stewardship and financial gain.

– Brian Turner

Source: Science Daily
Photo: Antara News