Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Small-scale fishery and marine-based enterprises are directly relevant to this goal, which pursues sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems, and protection of marine resources and environments. Target 14.b specifically mentions small businesses: “provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.” The small-scale, artisanal fishery sector encompasses pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest, and employs both men and women in almost equal measures, with a high female participation in fish processing and small- scale fish trading operations.51 Some 90 to 95 per cent of the catch produced by small-scale landings is used for the consumption of local communities and in some developing countries, including SIDS. If small-scale fishers had the capacity to monitor fishery management systems, it could help in part to relieve environmental pressures stemming from overfishing and stem the tide of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

New business models/solutions offer opportunities for MSMEs to help achieve the SDGs. The OECD projects a marked acceleration in economic activity in the ocean by 2030, based on the rapidly expanding ocean industries combined with expectations of moderate growth in already large industries like maritime and coastal tourism, offshore oil and gas, shipbuilding and maritime equipment.51 Conservatively, ocean-based industries’ gross value added could double in size by 2030, reaching around $3 trillion. Some ocean industries’ value added is set to grow even faster than the world economy.53 These include marine aquaculture, capture fisheries, fish processing, offshore wind, and port activities. Emerging trends include use of marine living resources such as algae for pharmaceuticals and chemicals, trade of non-edible seafood products for use in cosmetics, and marine renewable energy sources including wave, tidal, and ocean thermal energy conversion, and marine biotechnology.

Policy measures to support Goal 14:

  • Developing training as part of a business development programmes on product life cycle for MSMEs to understand which products could likely find their way into marine environments.
  • Incentivizing MSMEs to record and disclose information on the chemical makeup and material usage of products, packaging, and processing systems to facilitate closing the loop.
  • Promoting understanding of climate risk and build resilience into a company’s assets and supply chain.
  • Proposing an ecosystem-based management approach for MSMEs and fishery companies with specific rules to fight IUU.

51 United Nations (2017). Oceans Conference Concept Paper Partnership dialogue 5: Increasing Economic Benefits to Small Islands Developing States and Least Developed Countries and Providing Access for Small- Scale Artisanal Fishers to Marine Resources and Markets.

52 OECD (2019). Rethinking Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

53 Ibid.