The GOC have a mission to tackle plastic in the marine environment to preserve fish stocks




THE OCEAN IS OUR FRIEND, BUT WE ARE NO FRIEND TO THE OCEAN - Why is that? We need fish for food that are toxin free, yet we flood plastic waste and other pollutants into the oceans. Nobody is prosecuted for doing that and there is no fund to clean up the waste - locally or internationally. What are we like! Fortunately, we now have a group of hard hitters, the new kids on the block - and judging from the years of accumulated experience - you don't want to mess with these guys.


The GOC has a huge job ahead of them - and a limited time in which to act - if they are to ensure that the fish stocks we need to sustain us are both plentiful and poison free. It's a tough and dangerous job where fishermen will naturally want to earn as much as possible in a short time span, to offset the high cost of boats, nets and diesel fuel. We should then be sympathetic when seeking to limit catches, giving as much assistance as we can to these brave navigators - to prevent erroneous prosecutions. At the same time, fuel subsidies should be cut to give the privateers a chance to compete - and most of all we need to concentrate on blue growth - so that there are more fish for our fishermen to catch. Now is the time for action .......





The Global Ocean Commission is an international organization that was launched in February 2013, with the first meeting in March 2013. The GOC is likely to be phased out by the end of 2016, where their objectives have been met. The objectives being to produce reports on ocean issues. It is important that readers understand that the GOC is not charged with taking any action to resolve the identified issues, simply to report on them. For example, the GOC cannot fund any positive operations or otherwise contribute to projects to tackle the identified problems.


The Global Ocean Commission originated as an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, in partnership with Somerville College at the University of Oxford, Adessium Foundation and Oceans 5. It is supported by Pew, Adessium Foundation, Oceans 5 and The Swire Group Charitable Trust, but is independent of all. It is hosted by Somerville College.


The Commission is working towards reversing degradation of the ocean and restoring it to full health and productivity. Its focus is on the high seas, the areas that lie outside the jurisdiction of individual governments.


The high seas constitute 45% of the Earth’s surface. According to research reviewed by the Commission, this major proportion of the global ocean is under severe and increasing pressure from over-fishing, damage to important habitat, climate change and ocean acidification. The Commission comprises senior political figures, business leaders and development specialists, and deliberates with a diverse group of constituencies. These include existing ocean users, scientists, economists, business leaders and trade unions.




FISH RESPONSIBLY - Global Ocean Commissioners at the 2013 launch. From left: David Miliband, Obiageli 'Oby' Ezekwesili, Jose Maria Figueres



The Commission will publish its final recommendations in early 2014, shortly before the United Nations General Assembly begins discussions on protecting high seas biodiversity. The Commission’s report will consist of proposals improve the system of governance, thus ending high seas overfishing, stopping the loss of habitat and biodiversity, and improving monitoring and compliance.



The Global Ocean Commission
Somerville College
Woodstock Road
Oxford, OX2 6HD, UK

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 280747 


The Global Ocean Commission on Facebook





José María Figueres

Trevor Manuel

David Miliband

José María Figueres

Trevor Manuel

David Miliband


CO CHAIR - José María Figueres was President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. Since leaving government, Mr Figueres has served on numerous other boards. Mr Figueres graduated in engineering from the United States Military Academy (West Point). He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.


CO CHAIR - Trevor Manuel was one of South Africa’s longest serving Ministers of Finance, and is now Minister in the Presidency and head of the National Planning Commission. After South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, Mr Manuel was appointed Minister for Trade and Industry. Two years later he became Minister of Finance. Trevor Manuel actively opposed apartheid policies for many years, and became head of the African National Congress’s Department of Economic Planning prior to the 1994 election. He was a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee from 1991 to 2012. Mr Manuel has chaired the International Monetary Fund’s Development Committee, served as Special Envoy for Development Finance for UN Secretaries-General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon, and served on the Commission for Africa and the task team on Global Public Goods. In 2011 he became a Co-chair of the Transitional Committee of the Green Climate Fund, a UN fund to help poorer nations combat and adapt to climate change. Mr Manuel has received numerous honorary doctorates and awards.


CO CHAIR - David Miliband is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and a former UK Foreign Secretary. Founded by Albert Einstein, the IRC is a charity that works in more than 40 countries helping refugees and victims of conflict and disaster. Mr Miliband joined the IRC in September 2013 after 12 years as a Member of the British Parliament. His first government post came in 2002 when he was appointed Minister for Schools. As Secretary of State for the Environment from 2006 to 2007, he pioneered the world's first legally binding bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As Foreign Secretary from 2007 to 2010, he oversaw creation of a marine reserve around the Chagos Islands, which remains the world's biggest reserve where no commercial fishing is permitted.



Ban Ki-Moon's World Ocean Day message, June 8 2015


WORLD OCEAN DAY MESSAGE, JUNE 8 2015 - Oceans are an essential component of the Earth's ecosystem, and healthy oceans are critical to sustaining a healthy planet. Two out of every five people live relatively close to a shore, and three out of seven depend on marine and coastal resources to survive. Our oceans regulate the climate and process nutrients through natural cycles while providing a wide range of services, including natural resources, food and jobs that benefit billions of people.

Given how critical oceans are to the health of our planet and the prosperity of people, they are an essential element in our emerging vision for sustainable development, including the new set of sustainable development goals now being prepared to guide the global fight against poverty for the next 15 years.

Climate change poses a great challenge for the health and productivity of the oceans. The science is clear: humans have caused changes to the climate system that are linked to the warming of oceans. Sea-levels are rising, with devastating effects on vulnerable communities, especially people living in small island developing States.

Oceans absorb a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions and are becoming more acidic as a result. Ocean ecosystems are degrading. Corals, which sustain so much of marine life, are vulnerable to bleaching and even death caused by warmer temperatures.

World Oceans Day is a chance to strengthen our resolve to appreciate, protect and restore our oceans and their resources. This year, governments are seeking to adopt landmark agreements on climate change and ending poverty. Success will demand that they look at the essential role of world's oceans.

The oceans are vast - but their capacity to withstand human damage is limited. In this potentially pivotal year, we must commit to using the gifts of the oceans peacefully, equitably and sustainably for generations to come.


Ocean cleaning boat, designed to vacuum up plastic waste


UN CONCERNS ON MARINE LITTER - In the Rio+20 outcome document, marine litter/debris is considered as one of the major concerns as it negatively affects the health of oceans and marine biodiversity, therefore it calls for actions to achieve significant reductions in marine debris by 2025 to prevent harm to the coastal and marine environment (paragraph 163 of The Future We Want). In The Oceans Compact which was launched during the Yeosu Expo 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon further calls upon all countries to set relevant national targets for nutrients, marine debris and waste water to protect people and improve the health of the oceans.

Recalling the concern reflected in “The future we want”, the United Nations Environment Assembly of UNEP at its first session adopted on 27 June 2014 the resolution 1/6 on Marine plastic debris and microplastics.

Marine litter (debris) issue was addressed at the 60th and 63rd UN General Assembly held in October 2005 and in September 2008, respectively, and was reflected in resolutions.


As part of the drive to clean up our oceans, we hope that projects to target plastics that do get into the oceans, may receive recognition and/or support. One such project is the Cleaner Oceans Project with plans to develop ocean scrubbers based on the 'proof of concept' boat seen above. Contact BMS for more information.




HRH the Prince of Wales speaking at a Global Ocean Commission event in Washington DC in March of 2015. The future King of England has consistently kept a weather eye open to help safeguard the marine environment. Prince Charles also met with President Obama on this visit to the USA. The US President is quoted as saying that climate change is one of the greatest threats to security.






International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu has welcomed the recently-published report of the Global Ocean Commission (GOC), From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean, and its call for enhanced action at all levels to mitigate the threats to the global oceans described in the report.


In a letter to the co-chairs of the Global Ocean Commission (Mr. José María Figueres, Mr. Trevor Manuel and Mr. David Miliband), Mr. Sekimizu noted that, as the United Nations specialized agency dedicated to sustainable uses of the world’s oceans through safe, secure, clean ships, IMO plays a key role in advancing the critically important agenda carried forward in the report and has adopted key treaties addressing several of the outlined threats.


Mr. Sekimizu highlighted IMO’s active role in addressing many of the issues raised in the GOC report, noting also that IMO is working actively through several existing coordination mechanisms – such as UN Oceans, the Global Partnership for Oceans, and the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) – to ensure that joint efforts are maximized and duplication reduced.


“In my view, thoughtful development of ocean regulations, coupled with early entry into force, effective implementation, stringent compliance oversight and vigorous enforcement of international standards are the best ways to protect and sustain the precious marine environment and its resources. Through the application of these principles, for example, the average number of large oil spills (>700 tonnes) during the 2000s was just an eighth of that during the 1970s. This dramatic reduction has been due to the combined efforts of IMO, through its Member Governments and the oil/shipping industries to improve safety and pollution prevention,” Mr. Sekimizu said. 




In other examples of IMO’s commitment and ongoing work to address the challenges outlined in the GOC report, Mr. Sekimizu referred to IMO’s work to support sustainable development, including pollution reduction through implementation of the MARPOL Convention and IMO’s other multilateral environmental agreements, in tandem with capacity-building efforts.


With regard to sustainable use of the oceans, particularly fishing, Mr. Sekimizu referred to IMO’s work with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as the IMO Cape Town agreement of 2012, aimed at addressing fishing vessel safety.


Regarding the need to strengthen the governance of the high seas through promoting care and recovery, Mr. Sekimizu pointed to IMO’s lead role in the development of ecosystem-based management tools applicable to all marine areas and the designation to date of fourteen Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, and the adoption of various special areas under MARPOL addressing operational discharges from shipping. Furthermore, IMO has established multiple traffic separation schemes and other ship routeing systems in major congested shipping areas in the world.




IMO Secretary General: Koji Sekimizu



With respect to the report’s Proposal 5 (Plastics – Keeping them out of the Ocean), Annex V of IMO’s MARPOL treaty prohibits the discharge of plastics from ships. The key issue is effective implementation, Mr. Sekimizu noted. 

IMO’s Code for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (The MODU Code) provides international (non-binding) standards in support of the implementation of the GOC report Proposal 6 (Offshore Oil and Gas – Establishing binding international safety standards and liability). Meanwhile, in partnership with the oil and shipping industry, IMO has been working since 1996, within the framework of its International Convention of Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, 1990, to enhance oil preparedness and response capacity for marine spills at priority locations around the world, irrespective of whether the spill originates from a ship, an oil handling facility or an offshore unit. 

Addressing the co-chairs, Mr. Sekimizu said, “There is no question that your important work will spur meaningful progress in the common quest to preserve and protect our oceans, while ensuring their sustainable use as an irreplaceable mode of transportation, communication, industry and livelihood. Thank you again for producing this important report, and I look forward, along with my sister agencies in the UN system and our Member States, to meeting the challenges ahead.

The full text of Secretary-General Sekimizu’s letter to the Global Ocean Commission co-chairs can be downloaded here







Plastics are a major source of pollution on the high seas and a health threat to humans and the environment. This reflects poor handling and waste management practices on land and requires a combination of political and regulatory action supported by an increase in consumer awareness.

It is important to intensify efforts to address the variety of sources of marine pollution (persistent organic pollutants, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, nitrates, radioactive substances, marine debris, etc.). In particular, the Commission calls for coordinated action by governments, the private sector and civil society to eliminate plastics entering the global ocean including by:

1. Minimising single-use plastics by direct government intervention and consumer incentives.
2. Creating incentives to promote recycling and extend producer responsibility.
3. Establishing time-bound, quantitative reduction targets.
4. Achieving improved waste management.
5. Promoting consumer awareness.
6. Replicating local initiatives to restrict or ban certain unsustainable uses of plastic materials and clean-ups.
7. Addressing lost and discarded fishing gear, in particular FADs, to avoid abandonment.
8. Encouraging XPRIZE-like innovation around substitution, waste avoidance, recycling and clean-ups.
9. Exploring taxation and other levies to establish a Global Marine Responsibility Fund.


Given its mandate and its focus on the high seas, the Commission debated long and hard as to whether we should seek to address the problem of marine pollution at all, bearing in mind that it is estimated that 80% of all inputs of marine pollution come from land-based activities.

Nevertheless, we could not ignore that plastics are by far the most abundant and problematic type of marine debris in terms of the number of items. The amount of plastic in the ocean has risen sharply since the 1950s, with a tenfold increase every decade in some places. Scientists expect this trend to continue, given the increasing use of disposable plastic packaging and containers. In addition, the projected massive growth in plastic production is enhanced by the falling cost of plastic resin, which has become cheaper with the expansion of natural gas production.



  Cardinal Dominique Mamberti


POPE FRANCIS - Refreshingly, Pope Francis embraces the need to tend our gardens is Christian manner, and our duty to do what we can.  He is quoted as saying: “If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us.”  Rémi Parmentier, Trevor Manuel and Simon Reddy are seen here (right) with Cardinal Dominique Mamberti at the Vatican in Rome.



BOUNTIFUL HARVEST - Fishing is an essential activity for sustainable food supply. Over-fishing costs the global economy around $50 billion dollars a year.



Given that the vast majority of plastic entering the ocean is from land-based sources, which reflects poor handling and waste management practices on land, tackling these problems requires a combination of political and regulatory action supported by an increase in consumer awareness. The Commission is therefore calling for more coordinated action by governments, the private sector and civil society to stop plastics from entering the global ocean in the first place. Plastics pollution does not respect borders or boundaries, it affects everyone and needs to be addressed collectively.




Marine life needs to be protected against ocean pollution. Ocean pollution includes plastic, nets and oil spills. Technology with the potential to alleviate such issues should be accelerated as a high priority.





The objective of the Global Ocean Commission is to address the issues hereis by formulating ‘politically and technically feasible short, medium, and long-term recommendations.

These final recommendations were to be published in early 2014, shortly before the UN General Assembly began discussions on protecting high seas biodiversity – a commitment made at the Rio+20 summit in 2013. The work of the Commission thus focuses on four key tasks:

1. To examine key threats, challenges, and changes to the ocean in the 21st century, and identify priority issues. The Commission will utilise both scientific and economic evidence, drawing on existing reports from world experts, as well as commencing original research in partnership with other organisations.

2. To review the effectiveness of the existing legal framework for the high seas in meeting these challenges. According to the Commission, this means a special focus on the effectiveness of regional fisheries management organisations, particularly with respect to their accountability, transparency, and performance. It also means reviewing the governance gap on biodiversity conservation and analysing options for combatting IUU fishing. The Commission will also assess the suitability of the existing legal regime for regulating emerging uses of the global ocean.

3. To engage with interested parties around the world, as well as the general public. The Commission will connect with fishers, military and merchant navies, recreational sailors, seafood companies, conservation groups and the emergent seabed mining business. The Commission also aims to raise understanding among policymakers, economists and other groups, including the general public, of the implications should high seas issues not be reformed.

4. To make recommendations regarding ‘cost-effective, pragmatic and politically feasible reforms of high seas governance, management and enforcement.’ While the threat analysis will take account of external issues such as climate change, recommendations will focus on reforms that can be achieved by evolving high seas governance. Some may concern the fundamental legal framework under which the global ocean is governed, whereas others may focus on improving the effectiveness of existing mechanisms.



Plastic waste in the oceans is killing marine life


Tons of plastic floating in our oceans is a serious problem we face on this globe, considered to be one of most serious threats to our oceans. 90% of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface is in the form of plastic materials, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile. Plastic does not biodegrade, it photo-degrades with sunlight, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. These plastic pieces are eaten by marine life and eventually works it way up the food chain - as per the diagram below.



Plastic is also swept away by ocean currents, landing in swirling vortexes called ocean gyres. The North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California is home to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest ocean garbage site in the world. The floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas. These floating garbage sites are impossible to fully clean up. Over 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds die each year from ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic. Plastic poses a significant threat to the health of sea creatures, both big and small. It takes 500-1000 years for plastic to degrade, threatening both human and ocean health.




GLOBAL OCEAN COMMISSIONERS - A map of the world showing the location of the GOC's commissioners.





Carol Browner

Carol Browner

Carol Browner is a former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Currently, she is Senior Counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group.

Victor Chu

Victor Chu

Victor Chu is Chairman of First Eastern Investment Group, a leading Hong Kong-based direct investment firm and a pioneer of private equity investments in China.

Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili

Oby Ezewesili

Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili is a former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa, a former Nigerian Education Minister and co-founder of Transparency International.

Luiz Furlan

Luiz Furlan

Luiz Furlan was Co-chairman of the board from 2009 to 2011 of BRF Brasil Foods, the second largest food company in Brazil and the 10th largest globally. 

Vladimir Golitsyn

Vladimir Golitsyn

Judge Golitsyn is President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea on 1 October 2014 for a three-year term.

Robert Hill

Robert Hill

Robert Hill was a member of the Australian Senate from 1981 to 2006, representing South Australia.

Yoriko Kawaguchi

Yoriko Kawaguchi

Yoriko Kawaguchi is a former Foreign Minister and Environment Minister of Japan, and is now a Visiting Professor at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs in Tokyo.

Pascal Lamy

Pascal Lamy

Pascal Lamy was Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from September 2005 until September 2013.

Paul Martin

Paul Martin

The Rt Hon Paul Martin was Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006 and Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Sri Mulyani Indrawati is Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank Group and a former Finance Minister of Indonesia.

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata stepped down as chairman of the giant Tata (Steel) Group in India in December 2012 after 21 years at the helm.

Foua Toloa

Aliki Foua Toloa

Aliki Foua Toloa was the elected member (Faipule) of the Council for the Ongoing Government (Executive Government) for his island home of Fakaofo, Tokelau. Foua passed away on the 23rd of  June 2015 after a long health battle - a great loss. R.I.P.

Andrés Velasco

Andrés Velasco

Andrés Velasco was a presidential candidate in Chile in 2012-13. He was also the Minister of Finance of Chile between March 2006 and March 2010.







Simon Reddy, Executive Secretary


Simon has spent 20 years developing and delivering international policy in areas such as oceans and climate change. Most recently he was Executive Director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group from 2007-2012, during which time the organisation became an internationally recognised global network of 59 cities taking action on climate change. Simon trained as a marine and fisheries biologist.



Rémi Parmentier, Deputy Executive Secretary


Rémi joined as Deputy Executive Secretary in October 2013 to reinforce the Secretariat. Previously he had acted as Senior Policy Adviser to the Commission. A veteran of the international environmental movement with 40 years of experience in the field, Rémi has worked for many years on behalf of NGOs within multilateral bodies, to promote the environmental and sustainability agenda and values.



Clare Brennan, Director of Operations


Clare has worked for more than 15 years in international affairs. She joined the Commission from the Mayor of London’s office, where her role as Senior International Relations Officer entailed providing advice and support to the Mayor as a means of delivering and shaping his international policy agenda. She also spent a year seconded to the C40 secretariat as Senior Coordinator.



Kristian Teleki, Director of Global Engagement


Kristian was most recently Vice President of SeaWeb, responsible for its sustainable markets, science and Asia Pacific programmes. He was previously Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network and led the Marine Programme at UNEP-WCMC. Kristian chairs the reference user group of the MEDSEA ocean acidification project, and is on the boards of several environment, development and social initiatives.



Inés de Águeda, Communications Officer


Inés’ background is in international environmental policy. She is an associate at The Varda Group environmental consultancy. Previously, Inés worked with the non-profit group Islands First and the Permanent Mission of Nauru to the United Nations, with a focus on climate change negotiations and preparations for Rio+20.



Sarah Gardner, Administration Assistant


Sarah joined the Commission from the UK Energy Research Centre, where she organised conferences and other events for energy professionals. Prior to that she worked in the educational sector, running international professional development programmes for teachers. Sarah has also worked in local government.





For 64 percent of the world’s oceans - the amount that lies beyond national jurisdictions - the answer is that nobody owns the high seas. The high seas, as they’re known, are like the planet’s commons: since they don’t belong to anyone, no nation invests enough in offering them the protection they deserve, even though they constitute 45 percent of the planet’s surface area.


A coalition of NGOs, scientists, and activists called the TerraMar Project aims to reconfigure that relationship with the high seas by offering the opportunity to become a “citizen” of an imaginary aquatic nation.




TERRAMAR FOUNDERS - “45% of our planet is abused, overlooked & not preserved for future generations,”  “Just because the high seas are out of sight does not mean they should be out of mind. The TerraMar Project’s number one goal is to change attitudes and governance as it relates to the world’s largest ecosystem.”


The group is now offering passports - complete with unique numbers and a soon to come physical badge - for people to become citizens of the high seas, along with the chance to be “ambassador” for an underwater marine species of your choice. See the BMS passport above. Composed of a mix of NGOs, members of the High Seas Alliance and Save The High Seas, and experts in ocean policy, marine science, and law, the TerraMar network aims to tackle issues plaguing all of our oceans today, not just the high seas, including deep seabed mining, noise pollution, over-fishing, oil spills, and plastic pollution in the ever-growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch.




RICH COUNTRIES PAY ZOMBIES $5 BILLION A YEAR IN SUBSIDIES TO PLUNDER THE OCEANS - Without the subsidies, most of these businesses would fail. So thoroughly have industrial fleets over-fished the seas that they couldn’t afford the fuel to travel the ever-increasing distance needed to catch the same amount of fish if their governments didn’t lavish public funds upon them.

In economics, you’d call these zombies - unprofitable companies that would fail if governments didn’t prop them up. There are two big problems with zombies. First, they take resources that could go to support new, productive companies. And by subsidizing zombies, governments allow them to keep prices low, driving productive companies out of business.




RICH COUNTRIES PAY ZOMBIES $5 BILLION A YEAR IN SUBSIDIES TO PLUNDER THE OCEANS - If industrial fleets weren’t subsidized, they’d go out of business. Small-scale fisheries that don’t need enormous amounts of fuel to catch huge hauls of fish - i.e. the ones using sustainable fishing practices - would then in theory thrive. Many of these fishermen are in poor countries whose governments can’t afford to compete in the industrial looting.

Worse, there’s a double-whammy zombie effect going on in the fishing context. Government subsidies to highly destructive industrial fleets don’t just deprive small-scale fishermen of finite taxpayer dollars and edge them out of the market with cheap prices; they also rob them of current and long-term fishing stocks.




RICH COUNTRIES PAY ZOMBIES $5 BILLION A YEAR IN SUBSIDIES TO PLUNDER THE OCEANS - Not all subsidies are bad. In fact, subsidies to promote fishery resource conservation and management - things like stock assessments and stock monitoring - are exactly the kinds of things we should be pressing our governments to foot the bill for. But some $16 billion in subsidies goes exclusively toward making it cheaper to catch more fish. That’s a problem, given that the global deepwater fleet is already 2.5 times bigger than what the GOC says is sustainable to maintain global fish stocks.

Take, for example, the global high-seas bottom-trawl fleet. The top 12 highest-catching nations pony up a total of $152 million a year, worth a quarter of what the fleet catches. Yet this fleet’s margins are typically 10%. That means these highly destructive vessels couldn’t stay in business if not for government gimmes.




PANEL DISCUSSION - Governments tend to be leery of slashing subsidies because of the potential impact on jobs and, hence, politics. For instance, in 2006 Spain upped its fuel subsidy 60% after fishermen blockaded Mediterranean ports to protest oil prices. But the industrial fisheries are actually not huge employers, even within their sector: the GOC reports that the biggest vessels catch 65% of all marine fish, while employing only 4% of fishermen.



Launched in July 2012, the group has taken these unclaimed waters and christened them TerraMar, “the 8th Wonder of the World,” a nation that deserves care and attention. By metaphorically transforming these waters into a tangible country, the founders hope to draw attention and awareness to the world’s neglected ecosystems. Their first step in reaching their goal: Reaching one million active, informed citizens dedicated to fighting for the voiceless depths and the creatures living within them.








Global Ocean Commission co-Chairs David Miliband, Trevor Manuel and José María Figueres wrote to new European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Karmenu Vella, to express support for the EU’s pioneering regulation on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and to seek a meeting for further exploration and discussion.


The Commission’s specific proposal on ending IUU fishing can be found in its 2014 report, From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean.


IUU fishing has a devastating impact on marine environments, livelihoods, food security and illegal fishers. The Global Ocean Commission believes that the EU IUU Regulation has tremendous potential for stopping the trade of illegal fish products into the world’s largest seafood market – the EU – and, as a result, contributing to discouraging and eliminating IUU fishing practices around the globe.



Prince Albert II of Monaco


Prince Albert II of Monaco is a supporter of the Global Ocean Commission





The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (also known in short as DG MARE) is the Commission department responsible for the implementation of the Common Fisheries policy and of the Integrated Maritime Policy. With a staff of about 400, led by Director-General Lowri Evans (right) and based in Brussels, DG MARE is made up of 6 Directorates dealing with all aspects of both policies, including among others conservation, control, market measures, structural actions and international relations relating to fisheries. DG MARE reports to Karmenu Vella (left), Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. Lowri Evans has been Director-General in DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries since 2010. Prior to that she has worked in several policy areas in the European Commission notably Competition and Employment. She started her professional career in audit and accountancy with Deloitte.



Stopping illegal products from entering the EU allows for the creation of a level playing field for EU fishermen who operate in a legal, transparent and fair way and provides a safety net for protecting the supply chains of European processors and retailers.


The Regulation is also a showcase at the international level, demonstrating the influence one key market state can have as it encourages on-the-ground improvements in fisheries governance, monitoring control and surveillance in flag, coastal and port states, and eradicating some of the key IUU fishing hotspots globally.


As a direct outcome of the EU’s IUU yellow-carding (warning) and red-carding (trade restrictions) process, at least four countries – namely Fiji, Panama, Togo, and Vanuatu – have entirely reformed their fisheries policies and laws, introduced more sophisticated and effective vessel monitoring systems, and brought in sanctions for their nationals and vessels involved in IUU fishing. A large number of pre-identified countries have stressed the importance of cooperation and collaboration with the EU in this process, acknowledging its significant role in the global effort to deter IUU fishing.







The Commissioner for Maritime affairs and Fisheries is a member of the European Commission. The portfolio includes policies such as the Common Fisheries Policy, which is largely a competence of the European Union rather than the members. The Union has 66,000 km of coastline and the largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering 25 million km². They also participate in meetings of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council (Agrifish) configuration of the Council of the European Union. Their governance is thus a model for the world and should send a signal to other fishing nations as to important issues and remedies. Actions speak louder than words.




The Global Ocean Commission at its meeting in Oxford, 21st-23rd November 2013 (left to right) Robert Hill, Paul Martin, Foua Toloa, Yoriko Kawaguchi, Simon Reddy (Executive Secretary), Victor Chu, Andrés Velasco, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Trevor Manuel (Co-chair), Cristina Narbona, David Miliband (Co-chair), John Podesta, Pascal Lamy, José María Figueres (Co-chair), Vladimir Golitsyn, Ratan Tata.




The oceans are changing faster today and in more ways than at any time in human history. We are the cause. Which is why I welcome the launch of the Global Ocean Commission, dedicated to ending the neglect, in international affairs, of the high seas. These seas lie far beyond the horizon – 200 nautical miles offshore to be precise – and begin where sovereign national waters give way to the global commons, owned by none, shared by all.

There was a time when foreign travel gave many people a familiarity with the high seas. Rather than a few hours in a plane, "long haul" often meant days or weeks spent staring at an endless canvas of sea and sky. Today, few of us know much about what happens beyond the horizon and still fewer care. Like all common spaces, the high seas are vulnerable to misuse and abuse. Our indifference is costing the world dear for the high seas are being plundered.

For most of our maritime history, the open oceans have been seen as dangerous places to be traversed as quickly as possible. Remote and enduring, they were home to giant fish and whales; seabirds wandered their featureless expanses and ancient corals grew in the eternal darkness of the abyss.

Whalers were first to spot the high seas' potential as a source of wealth, slaughtering their way through the 19th and 20th centuries until the great whales were a few breaths from extinction. Ocean-going seabirds such as albatross and petrels were also early victims of exploitation due to the vulnerability of coastal nesting sites. But commercial fishing was a relative latecomer.

Fishing began in earnest in the 1950s as long-line and drift-net fleets sought profit in open ocean species such as tuna, swordfish, marlin and shark. By the 1980s, they were everywhere. The huge collateral damage done by these fisheries soon caused alarm. Drift nets spread lethal curtains tens of miles long killing indiscriminately, taking turtles, whales and dolphins alongside the target fish. They were banned by the UN in 1992 but long lines studded with tens of thousands of hooks continue the massacre. Enough long lines are set every night to wrap around the globe 500 times.

In a separate development, from the 1960s, Soviet and European vessels began to probe deeper in response to the decline of their shallow water fish stocks. They found riches on the Atlantic frontier, where continental shelves fall away into the deep, and around the summits of submerged offshore mountains. But these fisheries have proved highly vulnerable to overexploitation. Within the space of a few decades, species such as the roundnose grenadier and orange roughy have become so depleted they are considered threatened with extinction.



Bluefin tuna is an endangered species


Bluefin tuna is an endangered species as a result of ocean neglect



Deep sea fisheries carry another high cost in loss of coral forests and sponge groves. Life is glacial in the frigid inkiness of the deep, so these habitats have developed over thousands of years, sustained by table scraps sinking from a narrow surface layer where sunlight fuels plant growth. The bottom trawls that are used to catch fish cut down animals that are hundreds or even thousands of years old.

Without ever making a conscious decision to do it, we are losing unseen habitats whose equals on land would include the giant redwood glades of North America, the baobabs of Madagascar and Amazon rainforest.

Where are the regulators in all of this? Many high seas fisheries have little or no protection. Regional fisheries management organisations, where they exist, have been charged by the United Nations with management of fish stocks such as tuna. The best of them are sleeping on the job; the worst, as with the "management" of the endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna, make decisions in the full knowledge that what they are doing is destroying what they are supposed to protect.

Fishing is not the only problem. Remote as they seem, the high seas are no further than anywhere else from the inescapable influence of climate change, nor are they beyond the reach of pollution. Mercury and industrial emissions from power plants and industry shed their toxic loads far out to sea. Chemicals concentrate in the surface layer that separates air from water and can quickly leapfrog across thousands of miles of ocean in wind-whipped aerosols.

Circulating currents gather the floating refuse of modern society into enormous regions that have been dubbed the "great ocean garbage patches". Over the years, drifting plastics fragment into ever-smaller particles that pick up and concentrate chemical pollutants such as mercury and DDT. Small fish mistake plastics for food and pass chemicals up the food chain until they reach the flesh of animals we eat, like tuna and sharks. What goes around comes around.

If this were all we had to fix, it would be challenge enough. But there is more. Climate change is enlarging the deserts of the sea as surely as it is doing so on land. Surface waters of the open ocean have all the light but few nutrients, which severely limits productivity. Most of the time, upward mixing of nutrients is inhibited by a density barrier between the warm and light surface layer and cold, dense water below. Global warming is heating the surface ocean, making it even harder to cross between these layers. This in turn is starving deeper waters of oxygen that has to mix downwards from the atmosphere and surface plants. The living space in the oceans is shrinking.

There is one final blow to the integrity of the oceans that may yet prove the heaviest of all. Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is building up in the sea as well as the atmosphere. There, it forms carbonic acid (as in fizzy drinks). Acid is the nemesis of carbonate, the basic ingredient of chalk and a fundamental building block of ocean life, including shellfish, corals and plankton. If we do nothing to curtail emissions, ocean acidity will soar by the century's end toward levels not experienced for 55 million years in a period of runaway global warming. It is difficult to predict the exact outcome, but let's just say that last time around, corals and chalky plankton suffered badly.

We carry on today much as we have done for thousands of years, using natural resources as if they were endless. But population growth changes everything. We must get to grips with the consequences of our planetary dominance, otherwise the consequences will master us.

Out of sight and out of mind they may be, but the high seas are vital to everyone. By virtue of their sheer size they play a dominant role in the processes that keep our world habitable. They are too big for us to let them fail. The Global Oceans Commission has urgent work to do.
by Callum Roberts




Members of the Global Ocean Commission at their inaugural meeting in Cape 
Town, South Africa. Left to right: Robert Hill, Trevor Manuel (Co-chair), Cristina Narbona, David Miliband (Co-chair), Obiageli Ezekwesili, Foua Toloa, José María Figueres (Co-chair), Sir Ratan Tata.




The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries works to develop the potential of the European maritime economy and to secure a safe and stable supply of seafood, sustainable fisheries, healthy seas and prosperous coastal communities - for today's Europeans and for future generations.

This involves formulating, developing and implementing the Common Fisheries Policy - the cornerstone of our actions for a sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources; and promoting an integrated approach to all maritime policies.




RICH COUNTRIES PAY ZOMBIES $5 BILLION A YEAR IN SUBSIDIES TO PLUNDER THE OCEANS - The industrial fleet that now drags the high seas for fish has a combined engine power 10 times stronger than it did in 1950. Its nets are so huge that they’re sometimes big enough to hold 12 jumbo jets. And it is largely thanks to this all-out assault on high-seas fishing stocks that two-thirds of those stocks (paywall) are at the brink of collapse - or well past the edge.

But instead of discouraging this trend, rich countries are paying those vessels to over-fish like there’s no tomorrow. Japan, China, the US, the EU and other countries pay $27 billion to subsidize these vessels, according to a report by the Global Ocean Commission, an independent body of international leaders focused on ocean conservation policy. Of that, $5 billion alone goes on fuel subsidies from rich countries to industrial fishing fleets.






1. Protecting the environment while maintaining Europe's competitiveness. 2. Harnessing the potential of our land and seas to create sustainable jobs that preserve our natural resources. 3. Implementing the new Common Fisheries Policy. 4. Leading the task, with our global partners, of defining the management and governance of the planet’s oceans.




European Commission
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
1049 Brussels










Mission Ocean

The Guardian comment is free 2013 February 10 stop plunder of the high seas

Telegraph US-royal-tour-Prince-of-Wales-makes-plea-for-cleaner-oceans


Daily Mail Charles-horrified-toll-plastic-dumped-sea-Prince-Wales-plea-solve-issue-sake-future-generations

The Guardian environment 2015 March 19 Prince-charles-calls-for-end-to-dumping-of-plastic-in-worlds-oceans

Global Ocean Commission

Time environment-prince-charles-oceans

National Geographic Prince Charles oceans trash plastic britain

Wikipedia Global_Ocean_Commission

ITV 2015-03-18 prince-charles-makes-impassioned-plea-for-oceans-clean-up


National Geographic news 2014 June Global-ocean-commission-report-high-seas-fishing-environment

Virgin leadership and advocacy introducing global ocean commission

The terramar project  daily catch become a citizen and protector of the high seas

Wikipedia European_Commissioner_for_Maritime_Affairs_and_Fisheries

Reuters 2013 US oceans new global group to clean up

National Geographic 2014 global-ocean-commission-report-high-seas-fishing-environment















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