By Samuel Ouma
Kenya’s Environment and Forestry CS Keriako Tobiko, on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, attended Dialogue 2 meeting on Managing, protecting, conserving, and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems, at the ongoing UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.
The interactive session was meant to share other countries’ best practices in marine conservation, and key speakers underscored the need for policy interventions towards marine protection conservation.
It is estimated that 63 per cent of the total value of the biosphere is contributed by marine ecosystems, primarily coastal ecosystems.
Sectors critical to developing countries’ resilience include the coastal tourism sector, which contributes up to 40 per cent or more of GDP in some small island developing States.
There is also the marine fisheries sector, which provides nearly 20 per cent of the average animal protein intake consumed by 3.2 billion people and more than 50 per cent of the average intake in some least developed countries.
Direct and indirect pressures act synergistically, resulting in complex and sometimes severe cumulative impacts on ecosystems and communities. These are drivers of losses of ocean ecosystem services, including changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species.
Biodiversity mainstreaming has been adopted in fisheries and aquaculture policies and is being implemented incrementally. In the case of fisheries, biodiversity mainstreaming has led to the significant expansion of legal frameworks and practices regarding biodiversity conservation.
Although approximately one-third of target stocks are yet sustainably managed, the fisheries approach progressively focuses on a broader range of biodiversity considerations.
“Investments in ecosystem management policy and practice are ongoing to avoid the significant adverse impacts of anthropogenic pressures, including in the management of areas facing pressures due to use and the spatial protection and management of marine and coastal biodiversity, habitats and ecosystems,” read part of the statement released by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
Experts have warned that traditional coastal activities, such as local fishing and tourism, increasing in conflict with new activities, including mariculture, renewable energy production, scientific research and military activity.
New developments in offshore waters potentially challenge management, the purpose of which is to avoid spatial conflicts among shipping, industrial fisheries, mineral development, bioprospecting and energy development, among others. In this regard, various approaches have emerged that encourage greater contributions to cross-sectoral management.