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One Ocean – Regenerating Fish Stocks, Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14

One Ocean – Regenerating Fish Stocks, Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14

Remarks Midhfa Naeem, Counselor,

Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Maldives to the United Nations

United Nations, New York, 1 July 2015


Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to join others in expression my appreciation for convening this meeting on a critical issue. As a country extremely reliant on fisheries and ocean resources, the Maldives was a strong supporter of a goal on oceans and seas. Our economy to a large extent depends on our marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Any adverse impact on our marine living resources and our marine habitat directly damages our livelihood. Oceans also have an important social and cultural element, as the development of our nation and my people’s sustenance have been intertwined with the Ocean since time immemorial.

Healthy, resilient and productive oceans and seas are an essential component for successfully achieving sustainable development, in particular for countries such as SIDS who rely heavily on marine resources and ecosystems. This is what the ocean SDG is addressing by including targets that fall roughly in three categories: healthy and therefore productive and resilient ecosystems (meaning we work on the stressors, such as pollution), healthy, and therefore productive and resilient, fish stocks: this is what targets 14.4, 14.6 and to a certain extend 14.5 address (as well as MoI targets 14a and 14b); and lastly realizing the benefits for the conservation of marine resources.

As you indicated at the opening, I will not elaborate on what is wrong, but what we need to make it work. I will in particular focus on those targets related to today’s theme, with the caveat that to truly make the SDG14 work, and realize all each and every one target, we need to realize all targets.

So, what do we need to restore fish stocks? We need to tackle overfishing, end IUU fishing and destructive fishing practices, implement science-based management plans to restore fish stocks and improve their management, as well as tackle the sensitive issue of subsidies by prohibiting those that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate those that contribute to IUU fishing. This is in a sense what targets 14.4 and 14.6 calls for. But concretely, what do we need to reach those targets?

1.    We need adequate, reliable, and predictable means of implementation.

Adequate conservation and sustainable use of marine resources require scientific and technical expertise, the collection of data, and good monitoring systems. We, SIDS, could fulfill our role of custodians of oceans and seas even better with improved capacity and technology transfer in this regard. This is what target 14a highlights.

We need to identify the needs and provide relevant and adequate capacity and support for developing countries. We need to train and include our scientists in international research teams and projects. This will help improve mechanisms for resource assessment and management. Such support could also be used to enhance facilities for fisheries workers.

Furthermore, since fisheries is a significant sector of our economies, we need to enhance access to markets for the products of sustainable small-scale fisheries of small island developing States.

2.     We need political will.

Many of these issues have been debated in various forum and many of our targets are already agreed in other fora. Yet, issues are still persistent and creeping. We are still arguing in negotiations on already agreed text, because of this lack of global and universal political will.

We need to implement for example, the code of conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO international Plans of Action and technical Guidelines; implement port state measures.

We also need strong international commitments on subsidies in the fisheries sector, including through prohibiting subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, taking into account special and differential treatment for developing and LDCs, as well as refrain from introducing such new subsidies or from extending or enhancing existing ones. It is our hope that the meeting of the WTO in December 2015 will build on the commitments already made.

3.     Adequate delivery of our objectives will rely on a robust follow up and review process that takes stock of progress made and identify where gaps in implementation remain. This process should effectively hold each relevant stakeholder accountable or answerable to his or her commitments and actions. The Maldives envisions long-term solutions, which are holistic and acknowledge the fundamental importance of oceans.

Thank you.

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