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Our Ocean 2019: Harnessing Business Purpose To Safeguard Oceans

By Dayeeta Das
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Leaders from governments, businesses, civil society, and research institutions have gathered in Oslo, this week, for Our Ocean 2019 - a forum that seeks to find ways to make oceans clean, healthy, and productive. 

Climate change, overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution are placing oceans under unprecedented pressure. 

As leaders seek ways to relieve this pressure, radical policy changes such as the closure of large areas of oceans to commercial activities are seen, by some campaigners, as the only way to curb overfishing and preserve marine habitats. 

Alternative Solution

However, there are other alternatives, such as working with global businesses to devise solutions that ensure the sustainability of marine resouraces while still delivering profits.

The global goals set out by the UN to deliver sustainable development were created with the explicit understanding that they could not be achieved through government action alone. 


Delivering these Sustainable Development Goals – including Goal 14 Life Below Water - requires the mobilisation and transformation of businesses, consumers and fishing communities, alongside government policies.

Over the past year, many big businesses have reworked their corporate purpose by embracing society’s larger goals in response to political and consumer pressure. 

Early Movers

But the MSC programme, and other market-driven credible certification programmes, have been early movers in this industry-wide change. 

Now in its 22nd year, certified sustainable seafood from MSC is not only seen as a route into markets with increasingly conscientious consumers, but as a way to drive changes in the marine ecosystem.


Retail and brand commitments are also showing more interest in sustainable fishing in regions with historically lower levels of engagement. 

The commitments of AEON and JCCU in Japan, for example, are slowly starting to influence fisheries in the region to move towards MSC certification.

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