United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

FAO Statement on the
on the elements for a Call for Action
Delivered by
Mr. Audun Lem
Director, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of
: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and
marine resources for sustainable development
Preparatory Meeting
nited Nations
16 February, 2017
Thank you
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization, through input by its Members, has been monitoring world
capture production since 1950 and as the mandated UN body for fisheries, assesses the status of global
fisheries for biennial reporting. These
assessments show that approximately 31 percent of commercially
important marine fish stocks are fished at biologically unsustainable levels while 68 percent remain
within biologically sustainable levels. FAO recognizes that overfishing, illegal, unreported
unregulated (IUU) fishing, destructive fishing practices, pollution, and habitat and climate change,
threaten fish stocks, while unmanaged expansion of aquaculture can have adverse impacts on the marine
The Call for Action will help to sp
ur FAO and others to work on strengthening global fisheries
governance, to focus attention on particular managerial and technical actions that need to be supported in
member States. In the delivery of its actions, FAO seeks consensus
building in policy and
actions towards
improved conservation and utilization of aquatic resources. FAO’s actions are advised by its Committee
on Fisheries (COFI) and through recognition of and collaboration with Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs).
The FAO activities are performed
under its Blue Growth Initiative which aims at balancing the
environmental, social and economic aspects of living aquatic resources to ensure equitable benefits for
communities. It balances growth and conservation, across larger commercial and small
fisheries and aquaculture.
The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, adopted by the FAO Conference in 1995 and its related
instruments provide a robust framework for national and international efforts, including in the formulation
of polici
es and other legal and institutional frameworks and instruments, to ensure sustainable fishing and
use of aquatic living resources.
As mentioned, today many fisheries around the world are characterized by excessive fishing effort, low
productivity and inad
equate profitability. It has been estimated that rebuilding these overfished stocks
could increase fishery production by approximately 16.5 million tons, worth at least US$32 billion. This
would not only increase the well
being of coastal communities, but
it would lead to healthier ecosystems
that have greater resilience to climate change and ocean acidification.
FAO amongst others, recognizes that considerable benefits would be derived from ‘rebuilding’ fisheries
through the strengthening of existing conse
rvation and management mechanisms, while working together
on new opportunities to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In this regard, FAO
wishes to take this opportunity to invite States that have not yet done so, to become party to t
he FAO Port
State Measures Agreement (PSMA) which entered into force in June 2016. The effective implementation
of this instrument will reduce the incentive to engage in IUU fishing and block fishery products derived
from such activities from entering nati
onal and international markets, thereby bolstering international
efforts to combat illegal fishing and contributing to strengthening fisheries management and governance
at all levels.
Sustainable management of ocean ecosystems is imperative for ensuring su
fficient fisheries production to
sustain human well
being, food security and nutrition, and livelihoods. FAO recognizes the need to
accelerate its work in supporting sustainable management of living aquatic resources, and to balance use
and conservation in
an economically, socially and environmentally responsible manner.
For instance, the Call for Action could be used to focus on and strengthen support for small
scale fisheries
that are crucial to food security and livelihoods in coastal communities, especi
ally those of LDCs and
SIDS. In this regard, the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small
scale fisheries in the
context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) set out principles and guidelines for
securing sustainable small s
cale fisheries governance and development.
The sustainable use of oceans and seas requires global and regional cooperation in the conservation and
management of shared genetic resources, which is the focus of the BBNJ process for the high seas. FAO’s
Common Oceans programme offers insights into the challenges and opportunities that we now face
and welcomes the Call for Actions recognition of initiatives and related processes working on these
FAO also welcomes the Call for Action’s recognitio
n that access to productive resources from oceans and
seas is supported by good governance, participatory decision
making processes, robust implementation of
existing negotiated guidance and legal frameworks, including the UN Convention on the Law of the S
and its subsidiary agreements.
Lastly, FAO welcomes any opportunity to give further input to the finer elements of the development of
the Call for Action, to achieve SDG14 as an integral part of the 2030 Agenda.
Thank you