Ocean Preservation in Developing CountriesMore than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans, which contain 97 percent of the planet’s water. Billions of people rely on the preservation of oceans to provide sustainable jobs and food resources. Ocean preservation in developing countries has proven to be especially critical. According to the FAO, fisheries and aquaculture make up 10 to 12 percent of the world’s population, with more than 90 percent working in small-scale fisheries in developing countries.

The health of oceanic ecosystems and marine life is what drives the health and sustainability of other global systems that allow the planet to be habitable above water. Healthy oceans not only promote economic growth and food production, but they are also crucial in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. Warmer oceans cause ocean acidification, which threatens the balance and productivity of marine life and the Earth’s ecosystem.

The Biggest Problems

Marine Biodiversity Loss: The ocean’s diverse life greatly contributes to the wellbeing of humans. Fish benefit the ecosystem by regulating the climate and producing oxygen while also providing a source of protein, which many people depend on. However, marine ecosystems are facing an unprecedented loss in biodiversity as a direct result of habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing and climate change. This loss of marine biodiversity especially affects coastal communities in developing countries because marine resource exploitation often represents the majority of their livelihoods, serves as their main source of animal protein and, in some cases, represents their cultural identities.

Plastic Pollution: According to U.N. Environment, about eight million tons of plastic waste are produced each year, which is equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. This plastic pollution introduces micro-plastics into the marine life food chain. China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Thailand are primarily responsible for more than 50 percent of the total plastic waste found in oceans. If this trend continues without urgent action, oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

The 14th U.N. Sustainable Development Goal

In 2015, the U.N. developed 17 sustainable development goals to achieve by 2030. Goal 14 is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. As a result, the U.N. urges countries to preserve marine biodiversity. Unfortunately, many marine biodiversity hotspots (areas that have large numbers of endemic species and are heavily threatened by habitat loss) are located in developing tropical countries, such as the Western Pacific Ocean, the Southwest Indian Ocean and the Coral Triangle. These places suffer from limited resources, which makes it difficult to effectively maintain or improve the biodiversity without international aid.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are intended to provide protection, according to the conservation status and biodiversity value of a particular area. In developing countries, MPAs are widely recognized as a tool to provide food security and build resilience against climate change impacts such as coastal erosion. Unfortunately, the lack of economic and human resources in these regions cause a great challenge in the creation, enforcement, monitoring and control of the MPAs.

The World Bank Group

The World Bank Group strives to promote oceanic preservation in developing countries by supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, establishing coastal and marine protected areas, reducing pollution, and developing a greater knowledge of ocean health.

The Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project is an example of a successful World Bank-funded oceanic preservation program. This project has pioneered “hazard line mapping” for the entire coastline of India, which makes it possible to better manage India’s coastal space and minimize coastal vulnerabilities by utilizing shoreline protection and strategic land use plans.

So far, 1.5 million people have benefited from this program. Sewage treatment plants for about one million people have been completed, which has contributed to the prevention of flow of more than 80 million liters of waste into the ocean per day, protecting over 250 miles of Indian coastline.

Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action

Today, more and more oceanic preservation initiatives are being prioritized in developing countries, such as Mozambique, Indonesia and several West African countries. However, despite the success of ocean preservation in developing countries, there is definitely still more work to be done. Proper management of fisheries and investment in the sustainable protection of marine habitats will improve the productivity of the ocean and provide benefits for the those living in developing countries while also ensuring future growth, food security and jobs for coastal communities.

– Lolontika Hoque
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in TAAF
The French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) are an outer department of France. There are four main islands: Kerguelen, La Terre-Adélie, Saint Paul & New Amsterdam and Archipel Crozet. These islands are notably famous for their large penguin populations. There are also around 150 human inhabitants on the islands in winter, but the population grows to around 310 in the summer.

The region is used for meteorological and geophysical research, military bases and French fishing fleets. The main interest of these territories resides in their large maritime zones and economically exclusive zones. These zones allow for unlimited resource consumption, which has been going on for decades and has now led to the creation of a 3,850,000 euros program administered by the Agence française de développement (AFD) to protect local fauna, fisheries and biodiversity of these islands. The program that was adopted in 2009 converted dozens of previous fishing zones into protected marine habitats and parks.

There exists a strong correlation, however, between the consumption of resources and the reduction of poverty in TAAF. The AFD is set on changing fishing habits, to make consumption and trade more sustainable, and to ensure that overfishing doesn’t occur.

The AFD also distributes the Bpifrance Bank’s development loan program and has offered 14.4 million euros to the public sector to grow infrastructure, as well as 23.3 million dollars worth of loans to agricultural, fishing, aquaculture and individual enterprises.

Regardless of TAAF’s very low population density, the AFD has still created a solid development plan that will ensure that the environment, as well as the local economy, are both protected. The cornerstone of this project is the implementation of sustainable fishing and the AFD has worked with the local prefecture to develop a plan to do just that. The AFD has done a great job of creating a win-win scenario to reduce poverty in TAAF, as well as to ensure that the environment remains protected.

Joshua Ward

Photo: Flickr

Hunger is a persistent problem in communities worldwide. While poor nations face a disproportionate amount of hunger when compared to their wealthier cousins, rich nations are not themselves immune. As the world population continues to rise, hunger fighting strategies become a more urgent need in every country.

Fortunately, scientists, engineers and thinkers are responding with new solutions. Each of these hunger fighting strategies is far-reaching in its scope, but every one of them desires to be achievable, sustainable and profitable. Below are just three of the hunger fighting strategies being suggested as this century’s answer to hunger.

1. Farming Fish

In 2014, approximately half of the fish we consume is caught in the wild, whereas the other half is farmed in a practice called “aquaculture.” In the world’s rivers and oceans, over-fishing is a looming reality, and by 2030, the World Bank predicts that at least 62 percent of the fish we eat will come from aquaculture farms.

Aquaculture is a developing industry in parts of the globe, but with the right resources, fish farming could be an effective tool in fighting hunger in even the poorest places. Fish provide a high-quality source of protein, and when these fish are farmed rather than caught in the wild, that source is also replenishing.

The main goals of aquaculture are to be sustainable, environmentally-friendly and technologically advanced. On the most high-tech fish farms, video surveillance provides a solution to wastage, allowing farmers to better monitor over-feeding and dispense less feed per fish.

Sainsbury’s, a major chain of supermarkets in the U.K., has declared that all of the fish it sells will be produced via aquaculture by 2020. Other companies and countries are taking note.

2. Improving Rice

On May 28, in celebration of World Hunger Day, the web-based journal “GigaScience” announced that it plans to publish the first of the articles produced by the 3000 Rice Genomes Project.

The project, a collaborative mission by the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), aims to go public with the gene sequences of 3000 rice strains. Researchers and farmers alike can delight at this information which will do wonders in fighting hunger.

Sixteen poverty-stricken African and Asian countries have been named the intended beneficiaries of this project, though researchers worldwide will also be able to access the article. The 3000 gene sequences are compiled into 13.4 terabytes of information, all of which can be used in selective breeding programs.

Up until this time, breeders have had to rely on the outward characteristics of rice in order to make their selections. As a result, useless or counter-productive recessive traits — not outwardly visible but apparent in later generations — have slipped through the cracks. With the help of the 3000 Rice Genomes Project, scientists can select for very specific traits, including ones linked to drought resistance, higher yield and more. These improvements will mean more money for farmers and more food for families.

3. Exploring GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have developed a largely unfounded negative association. Produced by genetic engineering, GMOs are super-crops with high yields and great nutritional values. Most require fewer pesticides than their unmodified versions, and some may even require less water.

The stigma against GMOs developed largely in Europe, where Monsanto, an American company, tried to sell their modified product on European markets. Politicians responded with a terrific resistance to the GMOs, decrying them as “unsafe.” These claims were largely unsubstantiated.

As a result of decades-long campaigns against GMOs, Europeans have spread their fear to other parts of the world, including those most in need of the super-crops. Communities in Asia and Africa are already fighting hunger with the aid of GMOs, but too much pressure from anti-GMO campaigners may threaten their availability.

In order to end world hunger, GMOs must grow in popularity, not decline. Scientists are being called upon to prove the safety of genetically modified organisms, though the stigma against them may be hard to break.

With each of these three hunger fighting strategies, farmers, scientists and consumers can work to lessen world food shortages. With the help of all three, they could even put an end to hunger.

– Patricia Mackey

Sources: Boston Globe, CNBC, Science Codex
Photo: PSMAG

In Malawi, the southeast African state, fishing has proven to be an efficient and sustainable business that provides for citizens in surrounding areas. In fact, 1.6 million people are dependent on Lake Chilwa for their livelihood.

But this sustainable business model comes out of necessity. Through the 20th century, Lake Chilwa, the 2nd largest lake of Malawi, dried up nine times because of limited rainfall in the basin. Unfortunately, this trend is on rise with expectations of warmer climates and increased drought.

When the lake dries up other sources of food face heavy pressure to feed such a large group of people. Because of this increased potential of famine and drought sustainable fishing practices have been implemented.

The Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaptation Program (LCBCCAP) works with communities around the Basin in an attempt to reduce effects of climate change by introducing energy efficient products and methods that rival traditional approaches.

The first of these new products are the solar fish drier and fish smoking kilns adapted for energy efficiency. These products are expected to decrease fish post-harvest losses, and reduce climate change effects of the former methods.

The oldest traditional method to preserve fish, drying the fish in open air, can contaminate the food with dust and insects. This hurts both the health of consumers and the value of the fish. Further, “during the rainy season, processors incurred a nutritional and physical post-harvest loss of at least 30-40%.” But fish can be lost to predators as well and protection may be needed. This protection takes the form of increased labor.

The solar fish dryer would remove the fish from contaminants by placing the fish inside a greenhouse-esque fish dryer, saving time, consumer health, and protecting the fish from post-harvest loss.

As for smoking fish, the local tradition is to do so over an open fire. However, this increases deforestation and cripples the country as a whole. According to Yona Kamphale, the Ministry of Finance’s Development Planning Director, “the largest costs result from the loss of agricultural productivity as a result of soil degradation, deforestation in catchments around the main urban centers to supply firewood… and unsustainable fishing.”

To mitigate this the energy efficient fish smoking kiln reduces firewood use by 50%. In doing so it reduces labor and financial costs for firewood, while halving the environmental cost when used.

But this story gets even better. Women are empowered due to the reduction of labor time. With the ability to both dry and smoke the fish, women bring in more income to support their family. Once able to make more money and provide for their family they gain power within the familial structure, similar to the effect of micro-lending.

The female fish processors are trained by the LCBCCAP to use the energy efficient tools, handle food products hygienically, “quality control, grading, brining, and packaging.” Through this program women were given monetary options, food quality improved, labor reduced, and negative effects on the environment reduced.

Michael Carney
Sources: Africa News, World Fish
Photo: Green Peace

Lake Malawi MediationOver two million Africans depend on the waters and shores of Lake Malawi for their livelihoods. The lake, which borders Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique, has historically belonged 100 percent to Malawi. However, Tanzania has now laid claim to 50 percent of the lake. The dispute between the two countries has been ongoing for the last fifty years and has only recently come to a head as the result of oil exploration within the lake.

Malawi and Tanzania have submitted their position papers in preparation for the conflict mediation that will take place between March and May of this year, overseen by the African Forum.

The lives of two million Africans hang in the balance. About 1.5 million Malawians and 600,000 Tanzanians depend on Lake Malawi for their daily needs, including food, income, and transportation. As tension between the countries has heightened, Malawian fishermen have experienced abuse at the hands of Tanzanian security forces. One Malawian fisherman, while fishing on the Tanzanian side of the lake, reported being detained, beaten, and told never to fish on that side again. Tanzanian officials denied the harassment charges and expressed concern over Malawian aircraft flying over Tanzania without permission.

Even as tensions over Lake Malawi have increased, residents continue to depend on the lake’s vast resources for their survival. For years, fishermen of both countries have been crossing the invisible border between the countries to fish the entire lake. Local residents depend on the lake’s 2,000 different fish species to support themselves and their families. As a result of being unable to fish the Tanzanian side of the lake, the Malawian fisherman has seen his income reduced from $286 per month to just $142.

The fishermen, as well as national authorities and NGO officials, express concern over what may come to pass if the oil is discovered in Lake Malawi. The lake’s ecological diversity would most likely suffer as a result of oil exploration and drilling. Lake Malawi’s fish stocks have already declined from 30,000 to 2,000 tons per year over the last twenty years. The decline further endangers the livelihoods of local fishermen.

– Kat Henrichs
Source: All Africa

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