Message from Mukyisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

As we salute “Life Below Water: for People and Planet” on this 2019 World Wildlife Day, our oceans and ocean life are under serious threat from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, overfishing, plastic pollution, rising ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification.

Irresponsible and unethical harvesting and trading practices are targeting commercially valuable species of shark, ray, fish, conch, and coral, putting the livelihoods of more than 3 billion people in coastal communities at risk.

Regulating “from fish to dish” in seafood and other marine-based value chains is an important way of responding to the decline in marine wildlife and recognizing the importance of marine and coastal biodiversity to coastal communities, the world over.

The role of CITES in regulating such trade to ensure traceability, sustainability and legality in sourcing of marine products must be praised and underlined.

At UNCTAD we are doing our part to meet SDG 14 by seeking to phase out subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing, overfishing, and overcapacity. We are also working to help countries implement electronic customs procedures that enable countries to comply with national and international regulations under CITES, and to pursue a Blue BioTrade approach.

With partners like CITES and the Development Bank of Latin America we are working to develop value chains for queen conch, certain shark species as well as to promote sustainable nature-based tourism, like whale watching, in Latin America and the Caribbean.

On this special day, I call on governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and young people around the world to embrace the sustainable blue economy and take concrete actions towards a better future for people and planet.