07.07.2021

Coastal 500

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According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, approximately one in five people globally depend on fish as a significant animal protein source. Photo: Fisch Forever

Common ground. A shared vision. The power of collective action. Solving fisheries challenges. Connected by purpose. These were common refrains shared by the over 100 mayors and local government leaders around the world who gathered virtually for the launch of the Coastal 500 — the largest global network of mayors and local government leaders committed to work towards thriving and prosperous coastal communities.

“There are thousands of mayors and leaders like me,” said Mayor Greman B. Solante of Tudela, Philippines. “And think — if we work together, learn from each other, and inspire each other, we can accomplish so much.”

The Coastal 500, launched on this year’s World Ocean Day with support from Rare’s Fish Forever program, aims to unite 500 mayors and local government leaders with a uniform pledge for action on coastal fisheries. Leaders pledge to ensure food and economic security for coastal communities by sustainably managing coastal ocean waters. The network will amplify the voices of mayors and other local government leaders representing millions of small-scale fishing families across the developing tropics.

Coastal 500“Local communities are incubators for innovative, locally-led solutions, and it is the responsibility of national government and the global community to support these efforts at scale,” said Dr. Christiane Paulus, Director General for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

During the event, Teddy Baguilat, Council President of the global ICCA Consortium, stressed the urgency for unity and action. “As oceans become more polluted and fishing communities become poorer, you — representing the governments in coastal areas — are asked to step up and save the planet by listening to the wisdom of the past and the voices of our fisherfolk.”

A distressed ocean directly impacts the two hundred million people worldwide whose livelihoods depend on coastal fisheries. Coastal fisheries comprise the thin band of ocean 12 nautical miles from shore and are home to most of the ocean’s biodiversity. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, approximately one in five people globally depend on fish as a significant animal protein source.

The Coastal 500 complements local capacity building efforts underway as part of the IKI-supported project ‘Fishing for Climate Resilience initiative’, which is part of Fish Forever. With the support of IKI, Rare is working with local leaders to empower small-scale fishers in these communities in the Philippines, Indonesia, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau to adapt to climate change through Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) approaches.

What’s next for the Coastal 500?

Going forward, the network will guide committed mayors and local leaders to act on their commitments.  An Action Guidebook in multiple languages will provide leaders with resources for implementing solutions for coastal communities. A digital bank of resources and tools, virtual learning sessions, and peer-to-peer exchanges will offer the opportunity for connection and continued learning.

Honduran Fisher leader Julio César Rodriguez encourages us all to take action. “Fishing is a universal language among us. It maintains our bond and stops us from migrating.  And it’s a great source of pride and joy.  But we are in a race against time, and our lives are at stake.  The time to act is now.”