Exchanging experiences on the Open Oceans during the 8th GEF International Waters Conference in Sri Lanka

19 May 2016

May 2016 – The Common Oceans Projects presented their work, including challenges and accomplishments, during an FAO-led workshop at the 8th Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Biennial International Waters Conference (IWC8) in Sri Lanka. The IWC is the signature learning event for the GEF international waters portfolio. The IWC objectives are to facilitate cross-sectoral and portfolio-wide learning and experience sharing.

This year’s IWC8 was organized under the theme Scaling Up GEF IW Investments from Source to Sea and Beyond in the Context of Achieving the SDGs, with learning tracks devoted to catalyzing transformation and scaling up investments; strengthening governance processes to sustain project interventions; and data to policy. The Open Oceans workshop aimed to familiarize participants with governance challenges, gaps and management opportunities in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) and to present work in the ABNJ currently supported by the GEF. Further, it provided an opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities for the GEF’s current and future work in areas beyond national jurisdiction and to explore new key areas of interest that the GEF could engage in as it is beginning to plan for the next replenishment cycle.

Panel members during the Open Oceans Session
Panel members during the Open Oceans Session

The Open Oceans workshop touched upon three elements that are crucial for sustainable management and conservation in the ABNJ and that are the focus of the main activities of the Common Oceans ABNJ Program: governance, capacity building and the impacts of fishing on biodiversity. The GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel was represented by Jakob Granit from Stockholm Environment Institute and Henrik Ringbom, Professor at the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law.  They presented issues related to the overall governance issues of ABNJ, opening with a reflection on existing legal and management gaps and opportunities that must be addressed in order to effectively manage multiple uses of ABNJ and adapt to changing conditions in the future. Ringbom identified several issues including the lack and inadequacy of rules and lack of their ratification and enforcement as well as institutional governance gaps and the absence of governance principles.

Chris OBrien, Coordinator of the Common Oceans ABNJ Deep Seas Project, introduced the Common Oceans ABNJ Program and the underlying partnership. He also provided a review of the role of the regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), progress achieved towards the implementation of the precautionary and the ecosystem approaches, compliance control processes put in place by member States and how the Common Oceans ABNJ Projects are supporting these processes. The contribution of capacity building to the management of the ABNJ and how the Common Oceans ABNJ Projects are supporting capacity building were highlighted. World Bank’s Milen Dyoulgerov underlined the critical need of better stock data and much stronger management regimes to be put in place in order for investors to be able to confidently invest in environmentally sustainable fisheries in the ABNJ. Shelley Clarke, who coordinates the ABNJ Tuna Project’s shark and turtle bycatch work, reflected on the strategies pursued, the challenges faced and the lessons learnt during her work with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. ‘We need to practice the art of the possible’ said Dr. Clarke. Ross Wanless from BirdLife South Africa, highlighted the need for improved data when it comes to measuring the uptake of best practices and the need to speak the language of your stakeholders.  Rab Nawaz from WWF Pakistan reported on progress of WWF’s work on data collection for the Northern Indian Ocean tuna gillnet fishery. 'Convincing governments that data is power, not a liability' is one of the challenges WWF Pakistan is facing in the course of this work.

The session concluded with dialogue with the audience moderated by the GEF Secretariat’s Leah Karrer. The discussion provided valuable inputs covering a wide range of topics. Key messages included the need for improved data and an extended dialogue with countries and other stakeholders.

For additional information, contact:

Mr Alejandro Anganuzzi, Global Coordinator for the Common Oceans Tuna Project | alejandro.anganuzzi@fao.org