Businesses must work with government and the scientific community to help counter damage to the world’s oceans, according to a panel established by the World Bank to advise the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO).
The Blue Ribbon Panel consists of 21 global experts from 16 countries and includes high-level players ranging from CEOs of some of the largest seafood companies in the world — such as Thai Union Frozen Products, Bumble Bee Foods and High Liner Foods — to government officials and prominent marine conservationists. Without taking action to turn around the declining health of the ocean, the panel warns the consequences for economies, communities and ecosystems will be irreversible.
Recent science from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Program on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) has intensified the focus on declining ocean health, the panel says.
“Ocean change is climate change and vice versa,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, panel chair and ocean adviser to the IPCC. “With looming threats of rising sea levels, warmer waters and a growing human population we need healthy oceans and coasts to mitigate climate change, feed billions and protect coastal communities.”
Ocean warming was cited as responsible for more than 90 percent of the energy accumulated in the climate system between 1971 and 2010, according to an IPCC report released last month.
The panel says fragmented approaches that fail to consider social, political, economic and ecological relationships will fail to meet the complex challenges facing ocean health. The report calls for an integrated approach to ocean investment and emphasizes the essential role of public-private partnerships.
With no “silver bullet” to resolve urgent ocean challenges, the panel proposes five principles to ensure effective GPO investments:
(1) sustainable livelihoods, social equity and food security;
(2) a healthy ocean;
(3) effective governance systems;
(4) long-term viability;
(5) capacity building and innovation.
The Global Partnership for Oceans is a platform that brings together the multi-stakeholder support, technical expertise and finance needed to change the course on oceans, the panel says.
The panel’s principle-based strategy provides an approach to prioritize where, when and how the GPO can take action with high impact. The panel recommends that the principles be incorporated into all levels of reform — from fisheries management to incentives for pollution reduction to habitat restoration.
“This is a critical time in history,” said panelist Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum. “All levels of society and all stakeholders need to combine in joint action as a response to this very global problem.”
Already in the spirit of collaboration, Bumble Bee Foods in July introduced its new Wild Selections® line of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified canned tuna products (with later phases to feature salmon, shrimp, clams and sardines. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Wild Selections will support World Wildlife Fund (WWF)'s efforts to protect marine life, expand sustainable fishing practices globally and help build continued awareness of the MSC-certified seafood program.