Participants in the third Our Ocean conference, held September 15-16 in Washington, D.C., announced over 136 new initiatives on marine conservation and protection valued at more than $5.24 billion, as well as new commitments on the protection of almost four million square kilometers (over 1.5 million square miles) of the ocean.
To date the three Our Ocean conferences have generated commitments valued at over $9.2 billion to protect our ocean and committed to protect 9.9 million square kilometers (3.8 million square miles) of ocean – an area the size of the United States. The commitments focus on the key ocean issues of our time: marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and climate-related impacts on the ocean.
We look forward to building on these and previous commitments at the conferences in 2017 hosted by the European Union in Malta, in 2018 in Indonesia, and in 2019 in Norway.
The following are the 2016 Our Ocean conference commitments:
Protecting Ocean Areas
The United States announced the expansion of the Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii to cover an additional 1,146,798 square kilometers, creating the world’s largest marine protected area and permanently protecting pristine coral reefs, deep sea marine habitats, and important ecological resources. The United States also announced the establishment of a new marine monument of 12,725 square kilometers covering New England Canyons and Seamounts.
Seychelles announced that it will establish up to 400,000 square kilometers of marine protected area (30 percent of its EEZ) by 2020 as part of a comprehensive marine spatial plan for its entire EEZ via a debt swap of up to $27 million with its Paris Club creditors and the Government of South Africa, with the support of the Nature Conservancy and private capital investors interested in marine conservation.
The United Kingdom announced the designation of a sustainable use marine protected area throughout whole of St. Helena’s 445,000 square kilometer maritime zone and the final establishment of the marine protected area around the Pitcairn Islands that it proposed in 2014, which permanently closes more than 99 percent of the 840,000 square kilometer maritime zone around the Islands – 40,000 square kilometers more than originally planned. The United Kingdom also announced a roadmap to determine the exact location of an evidence-based fully protected marine protected area around Ascension Island covering at least 220,000 square kilometers by 2019 and a commitment to establish a regime for protecting the waters across the entire 750,000 square kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone in Tristan da Cunha by 2020. In total, this amounts to 1,455,000 square kilometers in new MPA commitments. The United Kingdom furthermore pledged more than $22 million (EUR 20 million) over the next four years to support the implementation, management, surveillance, and enforcement of these new marine protected areas.
The Federated States of Micronesia announced its commitment to expand out to 24 nautical miles around each island its marine protected area that prohibits commercial fishing, therein protecting an additional 184,948 square kilometers of its ocean waters.
Canada reaffirmed its commitment to meet marine conservation targets, including the commitment to protect 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020. Contributing towards this goal and building on previous actions, Canada announced plans to protect sensitive benthic ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine through fisheries closures in Jordan Basin and in Corsair and Georges Canyons, amounting to a total area of over 9,000 square kilometers on Canada’s Atlantic Coast. These new protection measures in the Atlantic join the soon to be established Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam Marine Protected ?Area in Canada’s western Arctic and the Hecate Strait/Queen Charlotte Sound Marine Protected Area, on Canada’s Pacific coast. The protection of these marine areas on Canada’s three coasts, combined with Canada’s plans for a National Marine Conservation Area in Lancaster Sound in Canada’s Arctic, will total over 58,121 square kilometers of new marine protection by 2017 for Canada and the world’s oceans.
Ecuador announced the creation of a no-take marine sanctuary in the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve, which prohibits fishing in an additional 40,000 square kilometers around the northern Galapagos islands of Darwin and Wolf. The marine sanctuary will protect the area with the largest concentration of sharks on the planet.
Cambodia announced the establishment of its first marine protected area, which covers 405 square kilometers in the waters of the Koh Rong Archipelago.
Palau announced the final establishment of the National Marine Sanctuary it proposed in 2014. The Sanctuary, which encompasses Palau’s entire EEZ, prohibits all extractive activities, including foreign fishing and mining in 80% of the area, and the remaining 20% of the sanctuary will be developed into a domestic-only fishing zone to ensure food security for Palauans.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in partnership with the Waitt Foundation and Blue Moon fund, announced a commitment of a minimum of $15 million for the creation of the WCS Marine Protected Area (MPA) Fund in an effort to meet or exceed the Aichi and the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets of protecting 10 percent of the ocean by 2020. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced a commitment of $33 million for the fund, resulting in a combined investment of $48 million in new resources for the expansion and improved effectiveness of MPAs across the world’s oceans by 2020.
Colombia announced that it will quadruple the size of the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, which hosts one of the world’s largest aggregations of sharks, so that it will cover an additional 20,237 square kilometers.
Malaysia announced the establishment of the 10,000 square kilometer Tun Mustapha Park marine protected area and a project to build Park enforcement capacity with $250,000 from the United States and $50,000 from WildAid.
Costa Rica announced that it will expand the protected waters of the Cocos Island National Park by almost 10,000 square kilometers, which will nearly quadruple this area in an effort to safeguard white-tip sharks, whale sharks, and hammerhead sharks?, among others.
Malta announced the designation of nine new marine protected areas comprising roughly 3,450 square kilometers, covering an area significantly larger than the country itself (316 square kilometers).
The Pew Charitable Trusts announced a partnership with the Bertarelli Foundation to provide $30 million to support ocean conservation and marine reserves.
The Nature Conservancy announced a commitment of over $100 million, including private and public funding, to work with countries and communities to create ocean management plans; to develop and implement innovative financing solutions to finance parks and protected area stewardship; and to provide tools, case studies and scientific studies to manage and reduce local threats to coral reefs and reef fisheries.
Sri Lanka announced the 292 square kilometer Veduthalathiv Nature Reserve marine protected area, as well as nearly 800 square kilometers in four new marine protected areas of habitat for marine mammals, coral, migratory and shore birds, and other marine life: the Mirissa and Kayankanni MPAs, part of the Gulf of Mannar, and the Jaffna Lagoon Sanctuary. Sri Lanka will set aside an additional 86.05 square kilometers of Associated Marine Protected Areas in lands bound by marine ecosystems: the Nai Aru lagoon and Nandikadal sanctuaries.
Korea announced the designation of the 91.2 square kilometer Garorim Bay, one of the only two habitats for endangered spotted seals in Korea and important spawning ground for many species of fish, as its 25th marine protected area, achieving progress on its commitment to increase the number of MPAs to 32 by 2020?.
Thailand announced a 10 square kilometer pilot protected area for dolphins in Trat Bay, with expansion potential for the entire Trat Bay of 880 square kilometers, and enhanced protection for dugongs and their habitats, including opening a marine mammal rescue center in Phuket in 2017 and establishing a 400 square kilometer dugong protected areas in Trang province by 2020.
Morocco announced the creation of three marine protected areas, in Moghador, Massa, and Albora, covering 775 square kilometers on the Moroccan Atlantic and Mediterranean shores as well as plans for a fourth in M’diq along the Mediterranean by 2018 where trawling will be banned.
Norway announced three new marine protected areas, totaling 170 square kilometers, to protect an inshore coral reef, an estuary, and a rich and diverse open coastal area in the counties Rogaland and SA�r-TrA�ndelag, and ten additional marine protected areas to protect cold water corals.
Lebanon announced its intent to establish a 30 square kilometer marine protected area in Naqoura and Ras ech Chaqaa.
Kuwait announced marine protected areas around Garouh, Kubar Island, and Um-Al-Maradim Islands covering 0.158 square kilometers to protect beaches, shoals, coral reefs, and other marine life.
Monaco announced that it has provided approximately $563,000 (EUR 500,000) to start a newly created trust fund set up with France and Tunisia that will provide long-term financial support to marine protected areas (MPAs) designated by Mediterranean countries; this fund will enhance existing MPAs, encourage the creation of additional MPAs, foster capacity-building, and complement existing initiatives.
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation announced a $3.2 million three-year effort with the Nature Conservancy, Oceans 5, the Bahamas National Trust and the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation to conserve 20 percent of the Bahamas marine and coastal environment by 2020 – doubling its protected areas.
The Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) announced more than $400,000 over next 18 months, to use the GLORES (Global Ocean Refuge System) Marine Protected Area certification system to evaluate and rate 10-12 MPAs by 2017.
The United States announced $1.25 million in grants to build capacity to create, effectively manage, and enforce marine protected areas in Latin America and the Caribbean, East Africa, and the Pacific Islands.
Panama announced $600,000 to promote and implement best practices in dolphin and whale watching tourism activities, including knowledge and capacity building workshops for local communities and construction of environmentally friendly infrastructure to promote safe distance watching practices in Coiba National Park and Bastimentos National Park in order to reduce human impacts to local dolphin and migrating whale populations.
Australia announced that it will provide an additional $41.95 million (AUD $56.1 million) over 4 years to strengthen the management of its marine protected areas, the largest representative network of marine protected areas in the world. This funding will develop modern approaches to management and support research to better understand the ecological, social, and economic values of Australia’s marine reserves.
Sri Lanka announced that it will establish a sea turtle conservation complex at Dodanduwa in the Southern province to treat and provide a sanctuary for injured turtles and educate the local community, to be completed this year.
Conservation International and the Walton Family Foundation announced a $36 million commitment to the Blue Abadi Fund to ensure the long-term sustainable management and protection of a network of ocean reserves in Indonesia’s Bird’s Head region.
The Waitt Foundation announced its commitment of $750,000 to work with Chile to design a network of marine protected areas to safeguard Patagonia’s whales, dolphins, sea lions, sea birds, and other marine life and to expand the country’s protected waters by 100,000 square kilometers.
The European Union announced its dedication of $1.126 million (EUR 1 million) to launch twinned marine protected areas in Europe and Africa, North America, and South America between 2016 and late 2017.
The Waitt Foundation, in partnership with National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Government of Chile announced an ocean conservation science expedition in support of marine spatial planning and marine protected area development in the Patagonia Fjord region off Chile’s coast. A second Chilean expedition in partnership with National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, Oceana, and the municipality of Juan Fernandez, will later be conducted near the Juan Fernandez Islands off Chile’s coast to inform marine protected area development.
The Republic of Congo announced its intention to create a special marine conservation zone of 1,970 square kilometers in Loango Bay, in the City of Pointe-Noire, to protect sea turtles and sharks.
New Caledonia announced its commitment to establish by 2017 “no go” sites on the Chesterfield and Bellona Plateaus and the Petri and Astrolabe Reefs, as well as “no take” zones around unique and pristine underwater habitats, within the 1.3 million square kilometer Natural Park of the Coral Sea it created in 2015.
France announced the expansion of the marine reserve in the French Southern Lands in the Indian Ocean by 550,000 square kilometers, as well as its commitment to create a marine protected area around Clipperton Island. France also committed to a target of protecting 75% of its coral reefs by 2021.
Promoting Sustainable Fisheries
Launched by Secretary Kerry at Our Ocean 2015 in Chile, the Safe Ocean Network ?has brought together 45 governments and organizations to share knowledge and better coordinate to combat illegal fishing around the world. More than 40 counter illegal fishing projects worth over $82 million are affiliated with the Safe Ocean Network. Partners? include: Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the European Union, Gabon, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Senegal, Seychelles, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Vanuatu, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the Environmental Law Institute, the International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Network, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, INTERPOL, mFish, Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Geographic Society, Oceana, Oceans 5, Pew Charitable Trusts, Secure Fisheries, Skytruth, the Stimson Center, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Vulcan, and World Wildlife Fund. More information about Safe Ocean Network projects can be found below.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced that the Port State Measures Agreement entered into force on June 5, 2016, with 35 parties as of August 2016, 23 of which joined in the last year: Barbados, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, France, The Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Indonesia, Mauritius, Palau, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, United States of America, and Vanuatu. Three additional countries committed to joining by the Our Ocean Conference 2017: Ghana, Senegal, and Madagascar.
The Marisla Foundation announced $100 million over five years to support projects to end overfishing, control plastic pollution, and protect marine mammals.
The Global Environmental Fund, Conservation International, and Rare announced the $18 million Meloy Fund – an impact investment fund focused on community small-scale fisheries and providing financial incentives to fishing communities to conserve coral reef ecosystems in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Senegal announced the launch of a $120 million artificial reef immersion program to restore degraded marine areas and rehabilitate the fisheries sector.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced $500,000 for its new global program to implement the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, through policy support and capacity development activities at the global level and regional level in Africa, as well as implementing small-scale fisheries support projects in Costa Rica and Cambodia.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium announced four major initiatives that engage businesses and governments in science-based solutions to improve traceability and environmental sustainability of farmed and wild seafood globally: a partnership with USAID to develop new tools, partnerships, and projects to address IUU fishing in the Asia-Pacific region; the formation of the Global Seafood Ratings Alliance to improve harmonization of sustainability ratings among NGOs worldwide; the launch of a human rights risk assessment tool in partnership with Seafish and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership; and establishment of the Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative (ASIC) to drive on-the-water change in Southeast Asia.
Seychelles announced that it will support the transition to sustainable management of its small scale artisanal fishery through the issuance of a “blue bond,” which will raise up to $15 million for rebuilding fish stocks, introducing harvest control measures, eco labelling, and encouraging a shift to post harvest and value adding activities, with support from Prince Charles Charities, The Nature Conservancy, the World Bank, and the GEF.
The United States announced pilot activities in Indonesia, the Philippines and Bangladesh to integrate marine tenure into fisheries management projects in support of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Reduction.
The United States announced that a number of Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), including Argentina, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Switzerland, and Uruguay, have committed to launch negotiations on a new, first-of-its-kind international agreement under the WTO to prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, and subsidies linked to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The Oak Foundation announced a $60 million commitment to ocean conservation over the next three years to support projects to end overfishing, protect small-scale fisheries, and reduce plastic pollution. The Oak Foundation also will provide $40 million a year to its climate change program. The Oak Foundation has issued a challenge grant of $2 million over three years to create a pooled fund to support international campaigns to reduce plastic pollution.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced $1.1 million for its new global program to support the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement and complementary instruments to combat IUU fishing through policy, legal, and technical assistance, and capacity building to strengthen enforcement.
The United States announced Port State Measures Agreement implementation training for Indonesian officials and managers and its commitment to assist with curriculum development and future trainings for officials in the country’s major ports.
Thailand announced its commitment to fight IUU fishing through a Royal Ordinance on Fisheries and accession to the FAO Port State Measures Agreement; adoption of a Fisheries Management Plan; upgrading of Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) by establishment of 28 Port In – Port Out (PIPO) centers in 22 coastal provinces and mandatory installation of Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) on vessels of 30 gross tonnage or more; ensuring traceability of fishery products by upgrading catch certification and traceability electronic systems; and enhancement of international cooperation.
Morocco announced its national plan to combat illegal fishing through legislation that establishes a catch documentation system to ensure traceability of fish catches, a $7.7 million (MAD 75 million) Vessel Monitoring System that has installed 2250 GPS devices on Moroccan fishing vessels, and $330,000 (MAD 3.2 million) to modernize its National Monitoring Center to ensure fishing vessels comply with legal requirements.
Sweden announced $1.2 million to fund the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency’s work to better control, manage and promote sustainable tuna fisheries and $1.2 million to fund the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s work on sustainable ocean management.
The European Union announced that it will commit approximately $6.75 million (EUR 6 million) in 2017 to improve governance, science and capacity building, as well as increase compliance in the 18 Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) and tuna RFMOs in which the EU participates. The EU acknowledged its responsibility to promote sustainable fisheries and combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fisheries
Australia announced the winners of the $2.24 million (AUD $3 million) Blue Economy Challenge – the nine winning teams will now implement their aquaculture innovations, which will help address poverty, food security, nutrition, sustainable livelihoods, and ocean conservation in developing countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
The United States announced that the U.S. intelligence community has produced its first ever unclassified assessment on the drivers and global implications of IUU fishing.
Japan announced a $3.7 million purchase of eight Wave Gliders for an ocean observation network and environmental monitoring, and that it will host an APEC High-Level Meeting on overcoming barriers to financing waste management systems to prevent marine litter in emerging Asia-Pacific economies.
Sri Lanka announced that it will conduct a survey of its fish resources and establish a robust fisheries information system by 2018, introduce environmentally friendly fishing gear and prohibit destructive fishing gear, and introduce effective fisheries management system through vessel monitoring and enforcement of relevant laws.
Sri Lanka announced that it is strengthening its mechanisms to combat IUU fishing by limiting fishing boats operating in deep seas and promoting the long line fishery for targeted fish species; introducing monitoring of fishing vessels in high seas through VMS and inspection of fishing vessels at sea; strengthening fish catch statistical reporting, data reporting and monitoring; implementing a verification program to identify IUU fishing violations and ensure follow up; strengthening mechanisms to ensure IUU fish are not processed or re-exported.
The United States announced that it will join with the World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation to provide $1.7 million to enable fishing nations to better monitor and prevent bycatch in global fisheries, supporting sustainable, ecosystem-based fisheries worldwide, with projects focused on technological, policy and legal capacity building.
The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNaPP) announced an investment of $450,000 for the development and beta testing of FishPath, a tool for assessing management options for data-limited fisheries, which represent more than half of the global catch.
Australia announced up to $4.49 million (AUD $6 million) to support the second phase of a community based fisheries management program in the Pacific that will directly support 28 villages and 7,400 people in Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Vanuatu to manage and develop their coastal fisheries, and explore how to deliver community based fisheries management at scale across the region.
The United States announced a partnership with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to jointly award The Nature Conservancy an anticipated $3 million over three years to apply innovative technology and encourage partnership between industry and government for improving management of key snapper and grouper fisheries in Indonesia.
The Global Partnership for Sharks and Rays (GPSR) announced the launch of a new funders’ collaborative, which seeks to halt the global overexploitation of sharks and rays, prevent species extinction, and restore populations worldwide. GPSR was founded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and Oceans 5 in 2016.
Reducing Marine Pollution
Panama announced $847 million to expand its “Panama City and Panama Bay Clean-Up Project” through the enlargement of its wastewater treatment plant in Panama City and to construct a new wastewater treatment plant in Western Panama Province to reduce marine pollution and restore and protect the health of Panama Bay and its surrounding marine ecosystems.
Germany announced the recent implementation of an action plan to create more marine protected areas, promote sustainable fishing and combat land-based sources of marine pollution – providing approximately $112 million (EUR 100 million) for development aid projects in the field of marine protection. Germany further announced, in conjunction with its upcoming G20 presidency, the broadening of the scope of its G7 Action Plan to Combat Marine Litter to include newly industrializing and developing countries.
Lebanon announced that it allocated $25 million to transform a coastal dump into a garden to restore the ecosystem and prevent marine debris and pollution from entering the sea.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced a $10 million three-year New Plastics Economy initiative to re-think and re-design plastic packaging, to replace plastics with sustainable materials, and to minimize single-use products.
Senegal announced that it has banned the production, import, possession, distribution, or use of plastic bags thinner than .03 millimeters.
Ghana announced that it has banned the manufacture of plastic bags thinner than .02 millimeters.
Mauritius announced that it has banned the import, manufacture, sale, or supply of nonbiodegradable plastic bags.
Morocco announced that it has banned the production, import, export, or acquisition of plastic shopping bags for sale or distribution.
France announced that it has banned all single-use plastic bags thinner than .05 millimeters. In addition, France announced that France, Morocco, and Monaco have launched an international coalition to ban single-use plastic bags.
The Global Environment Facility announced $6 million to support the United Nations Environmental Program to address eutrophication through the Nitrogen Research Project, and an additional $500,000 for marine plastic programs.
UN Environment announced $6 million over the next two years for global and regional marine litter work, including the new Sea+Me campaign. UN Environment, through the multi-lateral Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML), will also engage university students and faculties in its solutions-oriented Innovation Challenge to help address the global marine litter problem.
Ocean Conservancy, along with Trash Free Seas Partners, annnounced a commitment to raise an additional $2.75 million to design a fund to pool resources among industry, governments, multi-laterals, and private investors to support waste management improvements in the Asia Pacific, with a goal of reducing plastic inputs to the ocean by four percent over the next decade.
Dow Chemical Company announced a $2.8 million project over the next two years to sponsor collaborative projects and educational programs to improve waste management infrastructure, promote recycling and prevent littering, and support the development of new technologies to create a more circular economy and offer opportunities to turn waste into value.
Lebanon announced that it mobilized a total of $2.2 million with the European Union ($1.1 million each from Lebanon and the EU) to begin treating waste that resulted from a 2006 oil spill and will prevent contamination of the nearby sea.
The University of Georgia announced a $2 million grant to its New Materials Institute and Center for Circular Materials Management to encourage and facilitate integrative, collaborative research on new materials based on green engineering principles, and education and training of the next generation of scientists and engineers in the design and realization of circular materials.
Norway announced $1.22 million (NOK 10 million) to support the United Nations Environment Programme in developing marine litter action plans at national and regional levels to reduce plastic pollution and micro-plastics in the ocean, capacity-building measures, and clean-up actions.
The United States announced its intention to issue four grants totaling $1 million to fund projects to reduce nutrient pollution in the Caribbean and marine debris in Southeast Asia.
Tulane University announced the international Nitrogen Reduction Challenge, which will award $1 million to the most effective solution proven to reduce marine nutrient pollution from crop fertilizer runoff while enhancing crop yields, to be chosen from five finalists taking part in an in-field, proof of concept competition in 2017.
The European Union announced that it will launch a targeted strategy on plastics to stop plastic and microplastics from contaminating the marine and coastal environment. The strategy, out in late 2017, will address plastics’ entire lifecycle, including the issue of marine litter from ships, and examine options to ensure adequate treatment by port facilities.
Tunisia announced $475,000 for the continued restoration of Monastir Bay, which involves remedial dredging and other changes to the seafloor to remove industrial waste, increase water circulation, and prevent the spread of hypoxic zones.
Sri Lanka announced $200,000 for a pilot project to collect, treat, and dispose of solid waste and wastewater in the Mirissa fishery harbor, educate harbor users on waste minimization and management, and develop and implement a waste management plan for the harbor by the end of 2017.
The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and its partners, Surfrider, Tara Expeditions, the Mava Foundation, and IUCN, announced that they will provide up to approximately $168,900 (EUR 150,000) per year for 3 years, a total of about $506,700, through the “Beyond Plastic Med” (BeMed) Task Force, to fund micro-initiatives that aim to reduce plastics pollution in the Mediterranean.
Costa Rica announced a new National Policy on Waste Sanitation and a new National Strategy on Separation, Recovery, and Assessment of Waste that will improve the water quality of streams and rivers and prevent pollutants and trash from entering coastal waters.
Uruguay announced a regional project to assess ocean mercury contamination along the coast of South America using mercury levels in marine mammals as bio-indicators. This project will establish a baseline to support the development and adoption of adequate mitigation measures, promoting adherence to the Minamata Convention, providing a healthy marine environment, and protecting the wildlife and people of South America.
Sri Lanka has also built two marine monitoring towers on the Moragalla and Unawatuna beaches to assist in meeting and maintaining stringent environmental, educational, safety-related, and access-related criteria and will implement and improve the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.
The United States and 5 Gyres announced a citizen science program to collect data on the impact of marine microplastics on the environment and human health to spur innovative solutions to reduce and prevent the flow of land-based trash into the ocean in Puerto Rico and the Wider Caribbean.
The National Fisheries Society of Chile (SONAPESCA) and Bureo announced a new national program to promote the recycling of fishing gear from Chile’s artisanal fisheries that will help quantify the amount of fishing nets available annually for recycling and identify innovative ideas for reusing these materials.
Chile announced new South-South cooperation with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to share best practices on preventing pollution from entering the marine environment, including by improving waste management and recycling, reducing packaging, finding new biodegradable and recyclable materials, more efficient use of fertilizers, improved wastewater management, and techniques to minimize nutrient run-off.
Peru announced its commitment to reduce marine litter through improvements in integrated solid waste management and raising community awareness about the impact of trash on human health and coastal ecosystems, in collaboration with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Peace Corps, and other organizations under the Trash Free Waters framework.
Morocco announced the “Pavillon Bleu” (Blue Flag) program, which will work with municipalities and other actors to keep beaches free of debris and water safe for swimming through the construction of basic infrastructure, the installation of adequate sanitation, the launch of awareness campaigns, and the provision of assistance to communities as they set priorities for coastal management.
Think Beyond Plastic, working with the municipal governments, businesses and NGOs of the three Honduras Bay Islands, announced that it has entered phase two of the Mesoamerican Reef Plastic Pollution Project by helping businesses reduce plastic consumption and waste, accelerating local enterprises’ investment in alternatives, and assisting municipalities in developing strategic policies with a goal of 100 percent reduction of plastic pollution from bags, straws, and foam in 2017 and 70 percent reduction of other plastic disposables by 2020.
Climate and Ocean
The United States announced $2 billion for development and operation of two major, next generation, NASA global ocean satellite systems: the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite, due to launch in 2022/23, will monitor the health of our ocean ecosystems and improve our understanding of the carbon cycle dynamics in the ocean and atmosphere; and the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, due to launch in 2020, will improve our understanding of ocean circulation and climate. The SWOT mission is in partnership with the French space agency CNES, as well as a collaboration with Canada and the United Kingdom. In addition, the United States announced that the SMAP satellite, launched in early 2015, is now routinely producing sea surface salinity observations, which can reveal important information about changes in Earth’s water cycle, ocean circulation and climate.
Australia announced that it has established the International Partnership for Blue Carbon, which aims to amplify global efforts to protect and restore mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes given their vital role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable livelihoods, food security and biodiversity conservation. The United States announced that it intends to join the Partnership.
Althelia, with support from Conservation International and the Environmental Defense Fund, announced a $50 million Sustainable Ocean Fund. The Sustainable Ocean Fund will invest in real assets and management improvements in coastal fisheries, sustainable aquaculture projects, the seafood supply chain, and other select blue economy projects.
The United States announced $75 million for three NASA Earth Venture Suborbital projects: the COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) will produce the first comprehensive assessment of reef conditions in the Great Barrier Reef, the Mariana Islands, Palau, and the Main Hawaiian Islands; the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) will resolve key processes controlling marine ecosystems and their influences on atmospheric aerosols; and the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project will investigate the role of ocean warming on glacier retreat in Greenland and the interplay with global sea level rise. The United States also announced $16.5 million to fund additional ocean-focused research projects to better understand the extent and impact of coral bleaching, marine debris, the movement of fish and marine mammals, the impact of humans on coastal ecosystems, and the water cycle over the ocean.
The United States reaffirmed a commitment of $38.7 million for a package of initiatives related to climate change resilience in the Pacific Islands.
The New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute (NZARI) announced that in 2016-17 it will receive an investment of $1.466 million from the Aotearoa Foundation, funded by Julian Robertson. NZARI seeks to understand how the warming Southern Ocean is impacting Antarctica and how Antarctica’s response will lead to changes in global sea level rise.
Panama announced $1.7 million to incorporate mechanisms for conservation and sustainable development in the Bocas del Toro, Coiba, Guna Yala, and Las Perlas archipelagos and reduce impacts on surrounding ecosystems and biodiversity.
Sri Lanka announced new activities to protect coastal communities and assess the impact of sea-level rise and climate change, including establishing an accurate sea level rise forecasting system with a database to track wave measurement and sediment transport; mapping inundation-prone areas to assess vulnerability and prepare risk maps; and assessing future wave conditions for coastal zone and risks on environment, economy, and coastal communities for accommodation and adaptation strategies.
The New England-based Conservation Law Foundation announced a commitment to raise $8 million to address climate impacts in the Gulf of Maine, where water temperatures are rising faster than almost anywhere else in the world. They will work with partners to reduce regional carbon emissions 25 percent by 2020 and seek to increase the climate resiliency of the Gulf of Maine and surrounding waters by protecting important habitats such as the Coral Canyons and Seamounts and Cashes Ledge.
Panama announced $1.2 million to protect mangrove forests, build capacity for mangrove conservation management, conduct research on mangrove ecosystem vulnerability, and restore approximately 200 hectares of degraded mangrove forests on Panama’s eastern Pacific coast.
China announced its commitment to restore 16 bays, recover no less than 8.5 square kilometers of coastal wetland, 40 square kilometers of offshore polluted waters, and no less than two square kilometers of coastlines. China also announced that it will plant another 2.5 square kilometers of mangroves, four square kilometers of reed, 1.5 square kilometers of seepweed, and 0.5 square kilometers of tamarisk during the 13th Five Year Plan.
Sri Lanka announced that it has re-planted .06 square kilometers of mangroves in 2016, in addition to the .58 square kilometers planted since 2013, and established 10 square kilometers of coastal forests and green belt. Sri Lanka will also create a National Policy for Conservation and the Sustainable Utilization of Mangrove Ecosystems that will protect and conserve mangrove ecosystems, promote awareness of the benefits of mangroves, and integrate mangrove issues into policies, legislation, programs, and projects.
The United States announced $195,000 in funding to support mitigation of climate change through conservation and restoration of blue carbon sinks such as mangrove forests and seagrass beds in the Pacific Islands, Latin America, or the Caribbean, in partnership with The Ocean Foundation.
The Pacific Coast Collaborative announced the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, which will advance scientific understanding of ocean acidification, reduce the causes of acidification, protect the environment and coastal communities from impacts of a changing ocean, expand public awareness and understanding of acidification, and build sustained support for tackling this global problem. The Alliance will actively seek inclusion of ocean acidification mitigation and adaptation commitments in the COP 23 international climate agreement.
The United States, in partnership with the University of Washington, announced the launch of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network’s web portal, a user-friendly website that makes real time ocean acidification data from buoys and moorings around the world freely available to the public.
The United States announced that it has allocated $600,000 through the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative to the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center (OA-ICC) located at the Environment Laboratories in Monaco.
The United States announced $300,000 in funding to enhance capacity (equipment and training) for ocean acidification monitoring in the Pacific Islands, Latin America, and the Caribbean, in partnership with The Ocean Foundation.
The Ocean Foundation announced that it will train 50 scientists in the Pacific Islands, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Arctic to research and monitor ocean acidification, provide them with ocean acidification observing equipment, and expand the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network over the next three years.
DONG Energy Wind Power announced that it is pursuing the development of its first two large scale offshore wind projects in the United States.
The Packard Foundation announced a commitment of $550 million over the next five years to advance the protection of our ocean and to improve its long-term health.
The Walton Family Foundation announced a $250 million five-year commitment to ocean conservation in Indonesia and the Americas (United States, Mexico, Peru, and Chile.)
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced a commitment that, in total over the next five years, it will contribute more than $220 million to ocean research and ocean-related conservation.
The European Union announced an additional $168 million (EUR 150 million) per year for its annual marine and maritime research funding. The EU will launch a Science Action Plan for the South Atlantic, complementing its groundbreaking cooperation with the United States and Canada in the North Atlantic under the Galway Statement.
Dr. Douglas McCauley announced a $10 million gift from Marc and Lynne Benioff to the University of California at Santa Barbara to establish the Benioff Ocean Initiative. The initiative will engage a team of marine scientists and a website to crowdsource solutions to ocean problems around the world.
WWF and Conservation X Labs announced a commitment to raise $7.8 million to launch Oceans X Labs, the world’s first conservation technology to bring new innovations for ocean conservation to scale.
Reef Conservation announced the establishment, in partnership with the Rogers Group, Domaine de Bel Ombre, and others, of an “Integrated Land and Marine Research Center” in Bel Ombre, Mauritius, by September 2018, which will partner with local resorts and scientists to showcase coastal environments of Mauritius, build research capacity, and promote conservation.
Korea announced its plans to work with the UN FAO to establish a World Fisheries University to build capacity amongst coastal developing states over 10 years.
Kuwait announced that its newly acquired oceanographic vessel, the Al-Beeah I, will be used as a training platform for marine scientists and fisheries experts to expand environmental science and technology collaborations in the Gulf region.
Portugal announced the launch of the Blue Fund, an innovative public financial instrument funded in partnership with national and international public and private entities with the goal of developing the ocean economy, promoting ocean-related scientific research, and protecting the ocean environment.
Sweden announced $234,000 for a series of capacity building activities for Small Island Developing States in preparation for the UN Ocean conference it is hosting with Fiji in June 2017.
Dr. Nirmal Shah from Seychelles announced the launch of a Forum on African Marine Sciences, a network between science academies, universities, and organizations from over twelve African countries designed to enhance communication and collaboration on ocean science, host academic exchanges to strengthen local capacity, and support ocean and blue economy policy engagement across Africa.
Supporting Coastal Communities
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced marine-oriented grants totaling $6 million to non-governmental grantee organizations working on coastal community-based conservation, locally managed marine areas, sustainable fisheries, species conservation, creating and maintaining marine protected areas, and ocean governance.
Lebanon announced that it passed a decree to establish an Environmental Police Force that will enforce environmental laws and work with judges and prosecutors to prevent, investigate, and prosecute environmental crimes, including in coastal and maritime areas.
Morocco announced a new shoreline conservation law based on the principles of integrated coastal zone management to protect the country’s coastal resources by barring construction within 100 meters of the coast, establishing a setback for transport infrastructure of 2000 meters, prohibiting polluting discharges along the coastline, and establishing national and regional commissions to support coastal management.
Bangladesh announced a cooperative effort among 53 countries in the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.
Mapping and Understanding the Ocean
Australia announced that the eReefs water monitoring system went live in July 2016. The first and largest system of its kind in the world, eReefs monitors, models, and visualises water movement and water quality in the Great Barrier Reef and its catchments. It has been developed through a $23.9 million (AUD $32 million) public/private partnership involving leading Australian scientists and businesses.
Kuwait announced a marine environment monitoring system by installing a network of sensors, monitoring stations, and buoys along its coast and extending out 12 nautical miles into Kuwaiti territorial waters to monitor fish and aquaculture resources, on-shore and off-shore oil spills, and municipal water treatment and land-based pollution, to be fully operational capacity by the year 2020.
XPRIZE announced the recent launch of a $7 million global competition – the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE – which challenges teams to push the boundaries of ocean technologies by creating solutions that advance the autonomy, scale, speed, depths, and resolution of ocean exploration. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will provide a $1 million bonus prize to incentivize teams to develop technologies to detect the source of chemical and biological signals underwater.
Nekton, with an international alliance of scientists, NGOs, funders, technologists, filmmakers, and IGOs, will be leading a scientific mission in 2017 across the Mediterranean to research deep ocean function, health, and ecosystem services to inform sustainable marine stewardship and help catalyse the sustainable development of the blue economy.
The United States announced the expansion of the Smithsonian’s MarineGEO initiative to research the impacts of climate change on coastal marine biodiversity and ecosystems along the Pacific coastline of North America, with $200,000 in funding from the Paul Angell Foundation and the Hakai Institute.
Future Our Ocean Conferences
Indonesia announced that it will host the 2018 Our Ocean conference.
Norway announced that it will host the 2019 Our Ocean conference.
Source: U.S Department of State.
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