Vulnerable Fishing Communities From Across the World Deliver Declaration to United Nations to End Offshore Oil & Gas Expansion - Waterkeeper

Vulnerable Fishing Communities From Across the World Deliver Declaration to United Nations to End Offshore Oil & Gas Expansion 

By: Waterkeeper Alliance

COP28 Climate March | Photo Credit: Chris Wilke, Waterkeeper Alliance

A Complete Phase Out is the Only Credible Pathway to Limit Climate Change to 1.5º C and to Uphold the Human Rights of Coastal and Fishing Communities

Today in Dubai, a diverse group of representatives from The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Colombia, Sénégal, the United States, and other countries across North and South America, Africa, and Asia joined forces at COP28 to submit a declaration to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to uphold the human rights of coastal and fishing communities around the world. The declaration urgently calls upon the COP28 Presidency, Member States/Parties to the UNFCCC, and the UNFCCC Secretariat to move immediately, with available influence, to halt offshore oil and gas expansion.

This action comes within the closing days of COP28, as leaders zero in on ocean actions, and the UN celebrates the 75th anniversary of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The group contends that the continued exploitation of fossil fuels through offshore drilling, which constitutes over 30% of the world’s production, poses a grave threat to the survival of small-scale fishers and fish workers globally. Small-scale fisheries—supporting approximately 500 million livelihoods and constituting 40% of global fisheries catch—face far-reaching impacts that jeopardize fundamental human rights, contribute to economic and physical displacement, and violate the rights to food, an adequate standard of living, health, work, a healthy environment, and culture.

The groups hold that governments must take responsibility for preventing and mitigating foreseeable threats posed by private actors who aim to profit without restriction in developing countries. The continued approval and financing of offshore oil and gas activities violate this duty, given their inherent risks to fundamental human rights and outsized role in driving the climate crisis past the agreed-upon 1.5º C limit. Urgent attention and comprehensive mitigation measures are imperative to address the local and global repercussions of offshore oil and gas activities while safeguarding the rights, livelihoods, and ecosystems intertwined with small-scale fisheries.

Quote list:

“Fishers must be informed at every stage of the process, because they are the ones who will suffer the harmful consequences of oil and gas exploitation,” said Mbacké Seck, Hann Baykeeper from Sénégal.

“The Bahamian people have been victims of climate-fueled hurricanes over the past decade,” said Rashema Ingraham, Waterkeepers Bahamas. “Working collaboratively to restore mangroves, seagrasses, and corals to sequester carbon is critical, but more must be done to transition from fossil fuels, beginning with moratoriums on any new oil drilling activities. The lives of so many depend on these strong and necessary decisions.”

“The exploitation of oil and gas is not the solution,” said Daouda Gueye, Bargny Coast Waterkeeper. “Let us focus instead on preserving our environment, our health, and our economy while guaranteeing future generations a livable world.”

“The offshore sector is the fastest growing sector in the oil and gas industry, and is expected to experience the highest growth in a decade. Meanwhile, it threatens fundamental human rights globally, and especially impacts artisanal and small-scale fishing communities. Artisanal fishing represents at least 40% of world fishing production. It is a vital source of food, employment, and income for many of the world’s coastal populations: almost 500 million people around the world depend on it. We cannot allow it to persist, much less to deepen,” said Julian Medina Salgado, Representative of artisanal fisherfolk Golfo de Morrosquillo, Colombia.

“Expanded fossil fuel extraction is wholly incompatible with a credible pathway to hold climate change to the agreed-upon upper limit of 1.5º C, soon after which the impacts become catastrophic for oceans, fisheries, and communities,” said Chris Wilke, Waterkeeper Alliance. “It is time world leaders and the UNFCCC faced this simple fact: we must proceed with a fast, fair, and full fossil fuel phase-out. And a top priority is to halt all expansion of offshore drilling.”