News

May 5, 2020

EDF Joins RISE UP – A Blue Call to Action in Support of Ocean Health

News Source: Environmental Defense Fund

EDF today announced it is joining “RISE UP – A Blue Call to Action” joining dozens of civil society and philanthropic organizations urging governments and businesses to take bold actions to safeguard the ocean.

Our ocean biodiversity is in deep crisis. Collapsing fish populations, coral reef die-offs and disappearing ocean wildlife are evidence of the escalating ocean threats brought about by overfishing, ocean warming, acidification, habitat loss, pollution and multiple other stressors. Taken together, these threats are eroding the ocean’s ability to function as a planetary life support system, including providing food security, jobs and poverty alleviation for millions of people around the world.

“Our oceans are essential to all life on earth and they need greater protection, particularly in light of the added stresses brought on by climate change. Our ability to feed the planet, provide secure jobs, alleviate poverty and bolster human well-being depends on the health of our oceans,” said Eric Schwaab, senior vice president for EDF Oceans. “That’s why today EDF is joining our partners at Oceano Azul Foundation, Ocean Unite and Oak Foundation, along with many other committed supporters, to join the Blue Call to Action to protect our oceans — so people and nature can prosper together.”

The RISE UP initiative was started in May 2019, when the Oceano Azul Foundation partnered with Ocean Unite and Oak Foundation to bring together representatives of fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, ocean conservation organizations and foundations to agree on common priorities and solutions needed to tackle the ocean crisis and raise the level of ambition for action.

Despite mounting scientific evidence of the severity of the accumulating threats to the world’s oceans, the international response by governments and businesses has not been enough to defend the ocean’s biodiversity and its vital capacity to sustain marine life, produce oxygen, sequester carbon and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people, EDF said.

“We are entering one of the most important decades for ocean conservation in our lifetimes,” said Schwaab. “The decisions we make in the coming years — at the international, national and local levels — will determine the future health of the oceans for centuries to come.”

By partnering with RISE UP, EDF is joining an influential group of ocean conservation organizations and foundations, indigenous peoples and fishers all committed to spearheading bold solutions needed to tackle the ocean challenges we face.

As countries engage in international discussions about biodiversity, ocean conservation and climate change, RISE UP has issued a blueprint for the actions needed to ensure the protection of the ocean and the people who depend on it. The EDF Oceans Program underscored the importance of the following platform elements:

- Sustainably manage the world’s fisheries and safeguard the livelihoods they support; stop overfishing and destructive fishing; and protect and restore threatened and endangered species, habitats and ecological functions.

- Strengthen the ability of local coastal communities, indigenous peoples and small-scale fishers to conserve biodiversity, safeguard food security, build climate resilience and eradicate poverty.

- Establish a global network of marine protected or conserved areas that are fully or highly protected to provide climate, food security, livelihood and biodiversity benefits.

EDF is already working with partners to begin tackling many of these ambitious goals.

“EDF embraces the approach of RISE UP, which calls for tackling overfishing and other ocean stressors,” said Schwaab. “We know from the science that by taking care of fish, we can enhance the resilience of coral reefs, marine food webs and the coastal communities dependent on fishing for their livelihoods and food security.”

EDF also acknowledges the strong correlation between the success of marine protected areas and the implementation of sustainable fisheries management at scale. EDF strongly endorses the critical need to include vulnerable coastal communities, indigenous peoples and small-scale fishers as co-managers of their fisheries, where climate impacts are greatest.

EDF has a successful track record of helping fishers secure tenure for long-term sustainability in many places around the globe. For example, our work with partners in Belize has led to the establishment of a nationwide system of co-management zones, expanded MPAs and, most recently, national legislation to create sustainable fisheries. And, our work through EDF’s Virtual Fisheries Academy gives local partners access to tools than can empower transformations in small-scale fisheries critical for sustaining vulnerable coastal communities.

Although EDF is not endorsing every RISE UP goal or action, the Blue Call to Action offers a critical opportunity to work collaboratively with a diverse group of organizations and interests toward the common goal of ocean recovery.

“We encourage decision-makers and key stakeholders in all countries to work toward agreement on the critical actions that will give our blue planet the best chance of survival,” said Schwaab. “They need to work expeditiously in their own countries as well as globally to ensure the necessary changes are made in both policy and action.”