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Protecting biodiversity – Ensuring survival

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No development without biodiversity

Marine ecosystems are under threat

Three quarters of the Earth are covered by oceans. The oceans affect our daily lives. They produce more than half the oxygen available worldwide – every second breath we take comes from the sea. Fish is a key element in global food security and in fighting malnutrition. Oceans are also an engine of the global economy. Furthermore, past disasters have shown that mangrove forests and coral reefs protect coastal inhabitants against the impacts of climate change, such as storm surges and typhoons. Half the world's population live in coastal regions. In 2050 almost two thirds of all people are expected to live in coastal zones.

Overfishing, pollution and climate change

Nonetheless, the world is heading for a further crisis with regard to the oceans. This is due to unregulated coastal development, overfishing, pollution and climate change. More than 35 per cent of mangroves worldwide have already disappeared. Over 60 per cent of coral reefs are under threat. Almost 90 per cent of fish stocks have already been fished to the limit, or overfished. The pressure generated by pollution will also continue to increase. By 2030, for instance, there will be one ton of plastic waste for every three tons of fish. The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is continuing to rise. As a result, the oceans are acidifying. Mussels, corals, snails and starfish are growing more slowly, or dying out. In just 30 to 50 years, the tropical coral reefs and the species diversity that they support may have disappeared. All these factors are jeopardising the livelihoods of many people, particularly in developing countries.

Ten-point Plan of Action for Marine Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries

To move this highly topical issue further up the agenda the BMZ has published a ten-point plan of action for marine conservation. This is designed to serve as a guideline for German engagement in connection with the oceans.

  1. We will contribute toward creating more marine conservation areas that are managed sustainably.
  2. We will support and foster artisanal coastal fishers and aquaculture farmers, thus ensuring that the livelihoods of people living in coastal areas can be preserved in the long term.
  3. We will encourage sustainable, socially responsible processing and marketing of fish.
  4.  We will support our partner countries in tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
  5. We will develop strategic partnerships with economic sectors that have a special interest in preserving intact marine and coastal ecosystems.
  6.  We will support the efforts of our partner countries to reduce marine pollution from litter.
  7. We will develop strategies for dealing with potentially irreversible damage to marine ecosystems.
  8. We will support measures for adaptation to climate change in urban coastal regions.
  9. We will further develop local early warning systems for the impacts of climate change.
  10. We will support innovative cooperative approaches that do not end that national borders and are not limited to a single sector.

Marine Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries – Ten-point Plan of Action – read it now (PDF 1.1 MB, accessible)

German commitment to marine conservation and sustainable fisheries

Through this commitment Germany is leading the way and shaping the international debate. The oceans are moving further and further up the global agenda.

In the 2030 Agenda the oceans and seas are the subject of a separate Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in their own right – SDG 14. Furthermore, the oceans and coastal regions will play a key role in achieving other SDGs, such as those concerning poverty and food security.

Given the importance of the issue, the BMZ has also selected it as a special theme. It is therefore currently supporting projects for marine and coastal protection, and sustainable fisheries, worth some 180 million euros (as at May 2016).

The BMZ is thus helping to solve these problems. By doing so it is helping to implement key international policy goals and instruments such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the goals of the Framework Convention on Climate Change such as adaptation to climate change, and the Action Plan to Combat Marine Litter agreed under the German G7 Presidency.