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Improving the Ocean Governance at the Regional Level – Launch of new UNEP report

Turku, 19 May 2016 Yesterday, at the European Maritime Day 2016 held in Turku, Finland, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the report on Regional Ocean Governance entitled “The Regional Oceans Governance – Making Regional Seas Programmes, Regional Fishery Bodies and Large Marine Ecosystem Mechanisms Work Better Together”. European Maritime Day is the annual meeting for the ocean community in Europe and this year the event was organized in cooperation of the City of Turuku and the Government of Finland with a theme of “Investing in competitive blue growth - smart and sustainable solutions”.

Oceans are of vital importance to the international community, not only for their living and non-living resources and the shipping and other maritime uses they facilitate, but also for the key role they play in the global climate and weather system. The marine environment, its resources, and its biodiversity are increasingly threatened by human activities, both maritime and terrestrial. While the threats require dedicated, separate attention, there is increasingly wide support for more holistic and integrated governance approaches that take account of the spatial dimension and functioning of ecosystems.  

Given the fragmented nature of the current ocean governance at the global as well as regional levels, the report examines three regional ocean governance mechanisms: UNEP Regional Seas Programmes, Regional Fisheries Bodies and Large Marine Ecosystems. These regional mechanisms have different mandates, geographical coverage and constituency. Due to the limited coordination between these mechanisms, there are overlaps and gaps of ocean governance. The report analyses the legal, institutional and scientific foundations of the three mechanisms and assesses challenges for cooperation and coordination.

As a way forward, the report examines different options to improve the ocean governance at the regional level including (a) revising the mandate of key players; (b) strengthening individual mechanisms; (c) promoting informal cooperation and coordination arrangements; and (d) better connecting LMEs with other regional ocean governance mechanisms. The report recommends that creating new ocean governance mechanisms, bypassing the existing ones should be avoided in the future. The LME mechanisms could thus focus on strengthening existing Regional Seas programmes and Regional Fisheries Bodies rather than creating new inter-governmental mechanisms.

The report is also relevant to the EU International ocean governance process. The summary of the public consultation on international ocean governance[1], conducted from June to October 2015, highlighted the importance of regional ocean governance mechanisms in the context of the international ocean governance. The European efforts for blue growth and sustainable management of the oceans and seas have a clear linkage with the global efforts for the conservation of marine environment as is called for by  Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report can be downloaded here:

For more information:Takehiro Nakamura, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),

Kanako Hasegawa, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Phone:+254-20-7624791

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