Sustainable use of oceans requires end to illegal fishing

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The world’s oceans offer both challenges and solutions to the world’s Sustainable Development Agenda, and managing them more carefully is essential for global food security today and tomorrow as well as the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today at the United Nations Ocean Conference.

More than three billion people rely on fish for critical animal protein, while 300 million people depend on marine fisheries, the vast majority being linked to small-scale fisheries that are the backbone of marine and coastal social and ecosystems in many developing countries.

The high-level UN Ocean Conference aims to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on enhancing conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

“Unsustainability poses many risks and a heavy price,” said Graziano da Silva. “Today many fisheries around the world are characterized by excessive fishing effort, low productivity and inadequate profitability.”

That exacerbates pressures that have led to almost a third of all marine fish stocks being exploited at biologically unsustainable levels, a threefold increase in 40 years, he said. Annual fishery production would increase by around 20 percent – worth an extra $32 billion each year – if partners collaborate to rebuild overfished stocks, he added.

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