An Integrated Solution for Future-Proof Food Systems for Small-Scale Fishers?

How about other effective area-based conservation measures, aka OECMs?

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Value add for readers

  • Gain insights into the complex interplay between the 30×30 conservation initiative, sustainable fishing practices, and the transformative potential of OECMs, empowering readers for informed advocacy.

Community Coast © Paul Tuda

Navigating 30×30: Bridging Conservation and Small-Scale Fisheries for Sustainable Seas

On October 5, 2023, WIOMSA and GIZ, sponsored by the SNRD Network, hosted a webinar spotlighting challenges and opportunities in the “30×30” conservation race. The event united government representatives, conservation NGOs, small-scale fishers, and community advocates from Africa and beyond. They discussed how the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework (GBF) can meaningfully shape a new conservation agenda, particularly considering local communities and small-scale fishers.

Transforming Food Systems through OECMs

The webinar honed in on the implementation of “other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs)” in Africa’s coastal marine environments.  If implemented effectively, OECMs can ensure a diverse and productive marine environment, supporting small-scale fishers’ livelihoods and nutrition, thus contributing to the sustainable transformation of food systems. However, for marine OECMs to be effective, it is crucial to balance conservation goals with the interests of small-scale fishers and coastal communities. If local communities become important stakeholders in planning, governing and managing these areas, marine OECMs can serve both, nature, and people.

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Background: Unpacking 30×30 and OECMs

With the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework at COP15 in Montreal in December 2022, the world committed to reversing biodiversity loss through 23 ambitious Action Targets. The most debated among them is Target 3, known as “30×30”, which aims to conserve and manage 30% of the Earth’s area by 2030. Recognizing OECMs is critical for achieving the 30% target, complementing (marine) protected areas. Rigorous assessment and consent from governing authorities are essential for OECMs to count toward the 30×30 target in the World Database of OECMs (the WD-OECMs).

Expert Insights

Estradivari, an Indonesian researcher at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, and Hugh Govan, an authority on locally managed marine areas in the Pacific Islands, provided key insights during the webinar. The subsequent panel discussion emphasized the urgent need for integrating conservation efforts with the interests of small-scale fishers, achieving a balance between sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.

Key Takeaways & Recommendations for 30×30

  • The resounding advice is clear: “DON’T RUSH the process if it means compromising long-term benefits to people and nature.”
  • Locally Managed Marine Areas were highlighted as successful in the Pacific Islands and a potential solution for other regions, such as the Western Indian Ocean off East Africa.
  • Governments play an important role in supporting community-based conservation efforts, e.g., by empowering local actors in co-management
  • African countries need to improve understanding and communication about marine OECMs, conduct national scoping studies, and initiate discussions for the participatory design of OECM frameworks.
Lake Victoria

Small-scale fisheries at Lake Victoria ⎮ © GIZ/Dirk Ostermeier

The Road Ahead & Upcoming Events

GIZ and WIOMSA outlined several follow-up actions, including an online webinar on fisheries related OECMs, a regional learning workshop, tailored training workshops to enhance marine conservation efficiency, and an article submission on OECMs’ potential contribution to the “30×30” target in the Western Indian Ocean.

  1. WIOMSA in collaboration with FAO will host an online webinar entitled, “Introductory Webinar on Fisheries-Related Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures in the Southwest Indian Ocean”, on the 15th of March 2024. The aim o is to unpack Nature-Based Solutions, like fisheries related OECMs in the SWIO region as potential measures to support the “30×30” target.
  2. The Western Indian Ocean Marine Protected Aare Network (WIOMPAN) and WIOMSA, in collaboration with multiple partners, will host the “WIOMPAN Learning Workshop”. The workshop will be the first regional workshop to bring together Marine Protected Area and OECM practitioners in the WIO region to discuss the challenges that hinder the achievement of the “30×30” target and existing solutions that promote it.
  3. Training workshops will be tailored and developed to increase the efficiency of marine conservation areas including OECMS across the region.
  4. The Nairobi Convention convened the Western Indian Ocean Science to Policy Platform (SPP), a multi-stakeholder platform that serves as an intermediary body to bridge the gaps between science and policy. Under the SPP, an article will be submitted on OECMs and their potential contribution to the “30×30” target in the WIO.

Stay tuned for events shaping a balanced and sustainable future for marine conservation and small-scale fisheries.

Additional information

Blog piece Experts caution that 30×30 must not be rushed


Maya Pfaff, Advisor for Marine Conservation, Support Programme Biodiversity-Environment-Oceans Department Climate Change, Environment, Intrastructure & MeerWissen Secretariat,


Maya Pfaff, Annika Mackensen, Carina Martens, Deidre de Vos and Arthur Tuda

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