The 79 member states of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), at the 7th meeting of OACPS Ministers in charge of fisheries and aquaculture, adopted a strategic plan to remove key barriers to the Blue Economy. The Blue Economy is an initiative of coastal states that focuses on the sustainable use of the marine and coastal environment, bringing ocean values and services into economic modelling and decision making.
In his opening address, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo encouraged member states to work closer together to reverse the decline of ocean and marine ecosystems. For many states within the OACPS, the ocean and its resources are pillars of the economy and sustain key economic sectors such as tourism, fisheries and transport. Oceans also produce 50 percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere and absorb 25 percent of carbon emissions. However, he said, the oceans face existential threats from pollution and overfishing. As such, decisive action needs to be taken to safeguard the oceans’ capacity to regenerate and produce value.
Some of the key issues discussed at the OACPS meeting were the preservation of the maritime zones, the impacts of climate change on marine and inland waters, combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and ways to conserve life below water - the subject of Sustainable Development Goal 14. Mrs Koomson, the Ghanean Minister in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture stressed the importance of improving the regulation of fisheries, which are at the same time crucial to food security, nutrition and livelihoods. Small scale fisheries especially are a key sector for OACPS members and consensus has been reached to uplift this sector and boost the participation of fishing communities in decision making processes.
The United Nations has declared 2021 to 2030 the decade of the Oceans. A UN Oceans conference will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from 27 June to the 1st of July.