SDG 14: Life below water

SDG 14: Life below water
Fishermen carry their catch ashore at the fish market in Bosaso, Puntland state, Somalia (Photo: Will Baxter / FAO in Emergencies)

The ocean’s resources are diminishing at a staggering rate. Overfishing, climate change, and increasing acidification of the waters, all caused by human activity are to blame. As a result, sustainable development goal (SDG) 14 is about protecting our oceans and the ecosystems that exist within them.

The ocean, like the rainforest, act as a CO2 sink. However, as we produce increasing amounts of carbon dioxide, the ocean’s acidity grows, with serious consequences for marine life. This damage to the oceans not only has a serious impact on marine life but also on the lives of billions of people who depend on them as a food source and for their livelihood.

According to the Report of the UN Secretary-General, in order for fisheries to be developed sustainably, fish stocks must be maintained at a biologically sustainable level. Analyses have revealed that the fraction of world marine fish stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels has declined from 90% in 1974 to 66.9% in 2015.

SDG 14 aims to enforce international frameworks that address aspects of overfishing and damage to marine life, but also promote small-scale, sustainable fisheries in places where people are in need of food and financial opportunities.


SDG 14: Life below water
Faadumo Mohamed (left) and Leylo Ibraahim (2nd left) fillet fish in the Banadir B camp for Internaly Displaced Persons, in Bosaso, Puntland state, Somalia (Photo: Will Baxter / FAO in Emergencies)

Somalia is a good example; although it boasts the longest coastline of continental Africa, its fisheries are some of the least developed in the world. Consequently, Somalian coastal communities are some of the poorest and most food insecure in the country.

We worked with the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) who developed local fisheries in Somalia through the training of vulnerable women to sun-dry fish for sale and consumption. Arete photojournalist, Karel Prinsloo, documented this story, which not only addressed SDG 14 but also SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 5 (gender equality). This story shows how small-scale fisheries can be both sustainable and empowering for local communities.

In the run up to the first UN summit on the SDGs on 24th and 25th September 2019, we have been publishing a daily blog on how we help organisations to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Check out our blogs here.