Now in it’s fifth year, the Ocean Awards continue to recognise and reward those that share our commitment to fixing the largest solvable problem on the planet – the crisis in our oceans.
Without the complex marine biodiversity provided by our oceans, you wouldn’t be here – and neither would your yacht. 71 per cent of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean, which produces more than half the oxygen we breathe, absorbs half the carbon dioxide we produce, regulates climate, supplies ecosystems and employs about 140 million people, including those in fishing, aquaculture, tourism and, yes, the yachting industry.
The sea provides humankind with incalculable pleasure, whether swimming in it, looking at it or being on it. Yet the oceans are now under serious threat from irresponsible human activity, such as overfishing, coastal pollution and climate change. Luckily this crisis presents the largest solvable environmental problem on the planet and with decisive action studies show that it is reversible within 20 years.
There is no time to lose. Our aim is that the Ocean Awards will gather those who are passionate about improving the future of the oceans. Held in partnership with Blue Marine Foundation, one of the UK’s leading ocean conservation charities, the finalists will be announced in March 2020 and the winners will be announced in the June 2020 issue of BOAT International.
Dr Rashid Sumaila is a finalist for the Science Award for his participation in the paper “Benefits of the Paris Agreement to ocean life, economies, and people & Updated estimates and analysis of global fisheries subsidies” (via OceanCanada, Science Advances)
The Paris Agreement aims to mitigate potential impacts of climate change on ecological and social systems. However, climate sceptics have questioned how implementing the Agreement would benefit people. To provide a comprehensive response to such critics, Sumaila and his co-authors developed an ensemble of climate-marine ecosystem and economic models and explored the effects of implementing the Agreement on fish, fishers and seafood consumers worldwide. The authors found that implementing the Agreement could protect millions of tonnes in annual worldwide catch of top revenue generating fish species, as well as billions of dollars of fishers’ revenues, seafood workers’ income and household seafood expenditure. Overall, seventy-five per cent of maritime countries would benefit from this protection and about 90 per cent of this protected catch would occur within territorial waters of developing countries. Therefore, the paper suggests that implementing the Agreement could prove to be crucial for the future of ocean ecosystems and economies, making a very powerful contribution to the debate..
The period from 2019 to 2020 will determine whether the World Trade Organisation (WTO), tasked with eliminating capacity-enhancing fisheries subsidies, will be able to deliver to the world an agreement that disciplines these subsidies that lead to overfishing. To support the ongoing WTO negotiations, Sumaila led a group of co-authors to provide the latest analysis of the current level of subsidisation provided to the fisheries sector worldwide by governments.
Global fisheries subsidies were estimated at USD 35 billion in 2018, of which the lion’s share of USD 22 billion was capacity-enhancing. The top five subsidising political entities (China, European Union, USA, Republic of Korea and Japan) contributed over 50 per cent of the total estimated subsidies. Furthermore, the bulk of harmful capacity-enhancing subsidies, particularly those for fossil fuels have increased as a proportion of total subsidies. This paper has become the key resource for countries and civil society organisations working relentlessly to ensure that the WTO reaches an agreement to discipline harmful subsidies. This highly comprehensive analysis has made a significant contribution to the science and policy aspects of fisheries subsidies.