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Canada commits over $20mn in global efforts for sustainable ocean economy

The pledge includes $10mn funding for the development of satellite-based technologies to track down suspected illegal fishing vehicles, Jonathan Wilkinson, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard said/PSCU

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 28 – Canada has committed over $20 million in revitalised global efforts aimed at eliminating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The pledge includes $10 million funding for the development of satellite-based technologies to track down suspected illegal fishing vehicles, Jonathan Wilkinson, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard announced on Wednesday.

Canada, which has co-hosted the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference with Kenya and Japan having funded the three-day event that kicked off on Monday to the tune of Sh300 million, also announced a $1.6 million fund to support intelligence sharing with ocean-facing countries.

“We’ll focus on building stronger public-private partnerships to address IUU fishing. Presently we’re investing $10 million to support the development and deployment of satellite-based technologies that can identify and track suspected IUU vehicles,” he said during the closing session of the Blue Economy Conference.

“We’re working with other countries to share regional fisheries intelligence and we’re committing up to $1.6 million for western and central pacific countries to share information and develop tools to eliminate IUU vessels in their waters,” he added.

Wilkinson said Canada had set aside $9.5 million to help boost scientific capacity in ocean research.
The funding, he said, will facilitate formulation of policies geared and enhancing efficiency and sustainability in the ocean economy sector.

“The funding will enhance scientific capacity in ocean research and observation and today, we make a commitment to lead in the development of a platform for sharing data and practices in sustainable fishing management,” Wilkinson announced.

The commitments by Canada are part of over 62 undertakings made during the blue economy conference that saw over 16,380 participants from 183 countries gather at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in the inaugural global ocean economy conference.

A total of 64 side events, 54 of which were held within KICC, took place on the margins of the conference graced by seven Heads of State and governments, and 84 ministers.

Four side events were held at the University of Nairobi, with six spread in hotels across the city.

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The marine sector was leading in the number of commitments made by Wednesday afternoon – at nine – followed by the plastic sector that saw eight undertakings.

There were nine commitments in financing and our in the fisheries sector.

In her comments at the closing session, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma noted the strides made at the conference saying the commitment will go a long way in efforts to re-calibrate the sea ecosystem and avert the extinction of endangered species.

“If we do not take argent measure we could spell doom for humanity and that is why we’re delighted to have convened all stakeholders to discuss these matters,” she said.

“We hope Nairobi begins to build the bloc for a global consensus for action to save humanity in the future,” the CS noted.

Juma pointed out that Kenya was already addressing some of the major concerns including the proliferation of plastics by banning single-use plastic and encouraging recycling.

She said the enforcement of the ban in August last year following a six-month notice gazette in February 2017 had tremendously reduced the amount of plastic waste in the environment.

During a side event on climate change on Tuesday, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o proposed the extension of the ban on single-use plastic to plastic bottles to consolidate gains made so far.

Nyong’o said banning the use of plastic in totality will ensure the environment is protected from the harmful effects of the non-degradable pollutants while creating innumerable opportunities for industries producing degradable carries bags and containers to flourish.

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“We can ban the use of plastic bags and bottles and give another industry an opportunity to fill the gap created,” Nyong’o pointed out.

The use of plastic bags and containers has emerged in the recent days as a huge existential threat to the fishing industry with latest estimates by United Nations Environment Programme showing in excess eight million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean each year.

The projections also put the amount of micro-plastics – nylon, polystyrene, and polyethylene – being dumped into the ocean annually at 230,000 metric tons annually, an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of ocean, further endangering fish.

The amount of plastic waste in the ocean in projected to increase tenfold by 2020 superseding outnumbering fish by 2050.

Plastic microparticles have the ability of being absorbed into the flesh of fish making seafood unsafe for human consumption.

The plastic microparticles are particularly harmful as some of them may have heavy metals embedded.

In July 2017, leading scientists in France and Malaysia projected the annual consumption of microplastics through seafood in Europe at 11,000.

In the report published in Scientific Reports, a scientific journal by an international scientific publisher Nature Research, the scientists reported thirty-six microplastics in 120 assorted fish samples.

According to the United Nations, over three billion people depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihoods.

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Other than plastic pollution, this vital resource faces other dangers including over-exploitation of at least 30 per cent of world’s fish stock. The global agency has also reported a 26 per cent rise in ocean acidification since the industrial revolution.

The ocean also absorbs about thirty percent of carbon dioxide produced by human beings, according to the United Nations.


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