[Arlington, VA, USA] – Today, on World Ocean Day 2021, international conservation NGO Rare launched a global network of local government leaders committed to working toward thriving and prosperous coastal communities. The network, The Coastal 500, is made up of mayors and other local government leaders from countries across the developing tropics. It aims to dramatically change the way communities protect their coastal waters and influence the way entire nations and regions manage their fisheries. Members hail from the Philippines, Indonesia, Mozambique, Guatemala, Brazil, and Honduras.
The network will establish global leadership for small-scale fisheries and will work to influence stakeholders in the fisheries sector to ensure positive shifts in public opinion, political will, and government policies. It will also serve as a valuable platform for peer-to-peer learning, technical and network support, and advocacy development for coastal leaders from all over the world.
The Coastal 500 network was launched with a virtual event attended by nearly 250 people, including mayors and local government leaders representing about 100 coastal communities from around the world. Speakers at the event included Gregor Robertson, former mayor of Vancouver, Canada and Ambassador of the Global Covenant of Mayors; Antha Williams, head of Environment for Bloomberg Philanthropies; Christiane Paulus, Director General with the German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU); Teddy Baguilat, Council President of the ICCA Consortium; Mayor Marlene Borges of Magalhães Barata, Brazil; and Julio Cesar Rodriguez, head of the association of artisanal fishers in Omoa, Honduras.
“It’s important for us to be organized – to have a clear and powerful voice around the world. By collaborating and sharing our successes, we can achieve great results,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.
“The Coastal 500 will be a powerful force for good in the fight to end overfishing, support coastal communities, and help our ocean recover from the destruction of harmful human activities at sea,” said Antha Williams.
“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 Frau Christiane Paulus.
“The idea of Coastal 500 was born out of the recognition of the importance of local governance – specifically, the key role of Mayors and local government leaders – that can support coastal communities and bring effective co-management to coastal fisheries,” said Dr. Steve Box.
“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,” said Teddy Baguilat.
“When we sign this global commitment, we are committing ourselves to the cause of development of artisanal fishing and to the objective of conserving nature in our territories,” said Mayor Borges.
The participant pledge is principal to the Coastal 500. Coastal 500 members publicly pledge to take specific actions to build healthy, prosperous, and thriving coastal communities through activities focused on:
- Promoting responsible fisher behaviors
- Advocating for the rights of local fishers to access local waters
- Encouraging participation in fisheries management
- Endorsing no-take reserves
- Investing in community-based fisheries management
- Sharing lessons and experiences with other local leaders from around the world.
Rare is the main facilitator of the Coastal 500. Rare’s Fish Forever program works to empower coastal communities to sustainably manage coastal resources and prevent overfishing. The program has engaged over 1,000 communities across eight countries and is helping place nearly 4,000,000 hectares of ocean water under sustainable management. Rare and the Coastal 500 are made possible with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ environment program leads efforts to fight climate change and protect the environment by driving the transition to clean energy, supporting local climate action, and preserving ocean ecosystems.