Oceans Futures: platform against climate-driven fishing conflicts – On 18 November at the Halifax International Security Forum, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched Oceans Futures, an innovative platform aimed at identifying areas potentially affected by maritime conflicts or food insecurity resulting from the migration of fisheries affected by climate change.
As reported by WWF, this initiative is a direct response to the 20-fold increase in fisheries conflicts over the past four decades and the projected 23% shift in global fish stocks due to climate change.
Oceans Futures has already identified seascapes susceptible to climate change-related diatribes. These include the Arctic Ocean, the Gulf of Guinea, the eastern Mediterranean, the eastern tropical Pacific and the central Pacific, as well as 20 global regions that could face conflict, food insecurity or geopolitical tensions over fisheries by 2030.
The countries involved range from Arctic waters to Cameroon, Syria, Ecuador, Indonesia and Micronesia. These hotspots were identified through a combination of fisheries movement data, socio-economic and safety information, including nutritional profiles, economic levels, presence of foreign fishing vessels and maritime boundary disputes.
Johan Bergenas (WWF),emphasised:
“We have a unique opportunity to predict and prevent future fishing wars that will have devastating impacts on people and nature. In launching Oceans Futures, we are bringing together partners, science, data and solutions to deliver a more sustainable and peaceful future”.
According to Admiral Paul Zukunft, 25th Commander of the US Coast Guard, this ‘early warning’ analysis can assist countries and international bodies in identifying opportunities for coordination and action on priority conservation and conflict prevention efforts.
“I have witnessed first-hand how declining global fish stocks cause conflict and threaten communities’ main source of nutrition and economic stability. These dynamics will have geopolitical consequences as competition for ocean resources is likely to increase. Oceans Futures will be the reference manual for nations around the world to chart a new course for the future security and environmental stability of our oceans and the world”.
Partners in Oceans Futures include the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) and Ode Partners.
Sherri Goodman, Secretary-General of the International Military Council for Climate and Security and Senior Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre, commented: ‘Climate change and national security are irrevocably linked; this has never been clearer than with the depletion of fish stocks worldwide due to illegal fishing and overfishing. With the Oceans Futures initiative, the international community will be able to visualise the impact of these challenges on fisheries and the lives of key coastal communities, encouraging us to unite and take action to preserve these vital resources.”
Oceans Futures: platform against climate-related fishing conflicts