Daily Archives: November 2, 2021

Eyes on SIDS at COP26: How one country tracks zooplankton dynamics towards climate ready fisheries and food security

By Student Delegate Mackenzie Bindas

For some time now, vulnerable coastal communities and small island nations who rely on the ocean environment have been at increasingly high risk of climate-driven changes impacting food security.  Coastal communities and small island nations are intricately linked to the marine ecosystem.  Fisheries are the primary source of employment, revenue, and food security for these local businesses.  Communities depend on the fisheries to bring in tourism, which directly supports local businesses.  Fisheries also create various job opportunities for these communities, like owning and operating a fishing vessel, working as a deckhand, or harvesting and processing fish to sell.  Locals depend on the fisheries for their primary source of protein.  Without fisheries, these communities will lose jobs, food sources, and a part of their innate culture.

Warming sea temperatures is one of the biggest climate impacts affecting fisheries.  The ocean is a carbon sink absorbing excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) stored in the atmosphere.  An increase in ocean temperatures negatively affects marine species and ecosystems.  A warmer ocean can cause the loss of breeding grounds for marine fish and mammals.  Warming waters also creates toxins produced by algal blooms, which can diminish fish stocks because increased temperatures reduce oxygen levels in the water.  Thus, driving marine species to either migrate to new grounds or die.  For humans, a warming sea threatens food security and coastal protection.  Fish stocks will diminish as the sea warms, forcing fisheries to adapt their fishing grounds and potentially target new species.

Despite the harmful impacts of climate change on the marine environment, the Republic of Seychelles has continued to improve its Artisanal Fishery.  SeyCCAT has various projects to improve the technology and lifespan of the fishery.  One of SeyCCAT’s projects has begun to study the stability of fish’s primary food source, a small microorganism called zooplankton.  The project analyzes the population of zooplankton found within Seychelles waters to determine the condition of the marine ecosystem.  These small microorganisms give SeyCCAT insight into the spawning dynamics of various species and the fragility of its coastal environment. Climate change affects the largest marine species to the smallest.  If these small microorganisms were to disappear, small predators like fish would not be far behind.

Fish are the main protein source in Seychelles and coastal communities like Seychelles.  This project helps Seychelles become climate-ready by understanding the dynamics of its fishery in a changing climate.  Determining this zooplankton baseline can inform decision-making in sovereign waters while also contributing to the scientific knowledge hub needed for climate-ready fisheries around the world.

We’ll be supporting Angelique Pouponneau at next week’s side event, “Climate action for shared prosperity through aquatic food systems: Eyes on SIDS and beyond,” which will be held in the Water and Climate Pavilion on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 1445-1545 Glasgow time. Hosted by WorldFish, IWMI, and FAO, Angelique will be speaking about innovative financing for climate resilience of aquatic food systems.

A Blue Solution for a Code Red Climate: Tangible and Concrete Ocean Action at COP26

By Student Delegate Heidi Johnson

Upon entering the oval office, President Biden returned the U.S. to the Paris Agreement and committed to reducing emissions while keeping “the 1.5-degree goal within reach.” The administration’s sense of urgency has increasingly escalated in the months since. Just last week, President Biden visited five states, including New York, New Jersey, Idaho, California, and Colorado, to survey the effects of climate change in those states. What he witnessed led him to declare a “code red” moment.

A code red moment is certainly warranted. Scientific research shows that as global average temperatures continue to rise, the planet is experiencing dangerous shifts in climate and weather. For instance, “oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea level is rising.”  A report also provides evidence that suggests a link between climate crisis intensity and violence against land and environment defenders.  Global Witness data confirm that last year was “the most dangerous year on record for people defending their homes, land and livelihoods, and ecosystems vital for biodiversity and the climate.” Global Witness reported that 227 people were killed for defending land and the environment—the highest number ever recorded.  Further, all but one defender attacked was from the Global South.

Source: SeyCCAT.org

Amid the unrelenting global effects of our climate crisis, coastal wetland loss stands out. In the past century, about 50 percent of coastal wetlands have been lost due to coastal development, pollution, rising seas, and warming oceans. As a result of wetland loss, islands are losing vital ecosystems. Yet, nature-based solutions remain largely untapped. For instance, one potential nature-based solution is “blue carbon,” which refers to ocean biomass, including mangroves, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes. Blue carbon ecosystems play important roles in climate change mitigation and adaptation by offsetting carbon capacity, protecting communities, and promoting biodiversity. As understanding of these crucial ecosystems remains limited, wetland loss continues to accelerate.

This adverse climate crisis effect underscores the need for a heightened sense of urgency. In a recent White House briefing on the Biden administration’s climate policy, a senior official shared that the administration is “grateful to be working with the European Union and partner countries towards a collective global goal.” Even so, the official noted that the administration’s most significant challenge heading into COP26 is ensuring that all leaders come to COP26 not only with a greater sense of urgency “but with tangible and concrete actions to demonstrate what we’re doing to respond to that urgency.”

As the senior Biden administration official noted, COP26 leaders can demonstrate their commitments by enhancing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Indeed, the Seychelles’ 2021 NDC is exemplary. It incorporated blue carbon, dedicating an entire chapter to the matter, and it explicitly committed to send mangrove and seagrass data to the United Nations. In its NDC, Seychelles also committed to mapping and assessing blue carbon habitat capacity and to establishing a long-term monitoring program for seagrass and mangrove habitats by 2025. Seychelles aims to protect the benefits of blue carbon in its own waters while advancing the global understanding of blue carbon ecosystems. Hence, Seychelles’ NDC serves as a quality example of how COP26 leaders can commit to tangible and concrete actions that demonstrate an urgent blue response to a code red crisis.


  1. President Biden to Host Leader-Level Meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, the White House Briefing Room (Sept. 15, 2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/15/president-biden-to-host-leader-level-meeting-of-the-major-economies-forum-on-energy-and-climate/
  2. Readout of the Sixth National Climate Task Force Meeting, the White House Briefing Room (Sept. 15, 2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/15/readout-of-the-sixth-national-climate-task-force-meeting/
  3. Background Press Call on the Administration’s Climate Policy, the White House Briefing Room (Sept. 16, 2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/09/16/background-press-call-on-the-administrations-climate-policy/
  4. Readout of the Sixth National Climate Task Force Meeting, the White House Briefing Room (Sept. 15, 2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/15/readout-of-the-sixth-national-climate-task-force-meeting/
  5. Last Line of Defense, Global Witness (Sept. 13, 2021), https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/last-line-defence/
  6. Oceans Can Contribute to Biden Announcement of Bold Greenhouse Gas Reductions, Marine Conservation Institute (Apr. 22, 2021), https://marine-conservation.org/on-the-tide/president-biden-climate-goals-on-51st-earth-day/
  7. Impacts of Climate Change, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/climatechange-science/impacts-climate-change
  8. Seychelles’ Blue Carbon Journey, Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, https://seyccat.org/seychelles-blue-carbon-journey/#the-ocean
  9. Seychelles’ NDC News, Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, https://seyccat.org/ndctimeline/
  10. Seychelles’ Updated Nationally Determined Contribution, Republic of Seychelles (July 30, 2021), https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/ndcstaging/PublishedDocuments/Seychelles%20First/Seychelles%20-%20NDC_Jul30th%202021%20_Final.pdf


Shucks: Why Communities Should Restore Oyster Populations

By Student Delegate Caroline Fullam

The intense impacts of climate change on coastal communities include coastal erosion, dying coral reefs (which protect communities from storm surges)[1], and dwindling fish populations that hurt the fishing industry.[2] One nature-based solution has helped address these impacts across the globe: oysters.

Photo from: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/habitat-conservation/oyster-reef-habitat

Oysters are referred to as “ecosystem engineers” because they attach to hard surfaces and other oysters to form oyster reefs.[3] These reefs help to develop and sustain a healthy

ecosystem by filtering water, providing a source of seafood; acting as a nursery for blue crabs, shrimp, bass, trout, flounder, and more; and helping protect the marine and land environment from storms.[4]

In Bangladesh, a study was done comparing three breakwater oyster reefs to control areas near Kutubdia Island.[5] The oyster reefs enhanced the adaptation capacities of shorelines by dissipating wave energy, reducing erosion rates, and increasing sediment deposition.[6] Significantly, the reefs also slowed salt marsh retreat during the monsoon season and then quickened saltmarsh seaward expansion in the winter.[7] The study’s findings show how oyster reefs reduce the impacts of storms on coastal communities as well as stabilize salt marshes, an important carbon sink.[8]

New York, through the Billion Oyster Project,[9] has restored 75 million oysters back into New York Harbor. The Billion Oyster Project partners with over 100 local schools to teach students about environmental issues and involve them in solutions.[10] Despite the pollution levels and strong currents in New York Harbor, the Billion Oyster Project restored oysters from near extinction in the region.[11] Growing oyster populations improve  water quality by filtering out excess nutrients such as nitrogen, which helps to increase water clarity, light penetration, and oxygen levels in the water.[12] These oyster reefs contribute significant ecological benefits, making them valuable even if they cannot be eaten.

Off the coast of Washington state, oysters in ocean farms eat local algae and fishermen have to contribute little to production.[13] Mussel farms in Maine, Long Island, Rhode Island, and California have recognized the regenerative capabilities of farming bi-valve shellfish as well.[14] Oysters and kelp are being integrated into the mussel farms to maximize the restorative impact these farms can have- a sharp contrast to other industrial fishing and aquaculture practices that place fertilizers in water or destroy marine ecosystems.[15] The mussel and oyster farms positively contribute to the marine ecosystem while providing fishermen jobs from a sustainable farm.

The vast ecologic and economic benefits of oysters led the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) to approve a pilot project studying the feasibility of establishing rock-oyster farms in Seychelles.[16] The project, expected to take two years, will ensure oyster farming is a solution that benefits the local community.[17] The effects oyster reefs and farms can have will vary amongst regions. The implementation of more feasibility studies can help to enhance recognition of the solutions oyster reefs and farms pose.

Restoring oyster populations has the potential to expand use of the blue economy and provide jobs, enhance climate adaptation capacities of coastal communities, and create healthier marine ecosystems.

We’ll be supporting Angelique Pouponneau at next week’s side event, “Climate action for shared prosperity through aquatic food systems: Eyes on SIDS and beyond,” which will be held in the Water and Climate Pavilion on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 1445-1545 Glasgow time. Hosted by WorldFish, IWMI, and FAO, Angelique will be speaking about innovative financing for climate resilience of aquatic food systems.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/coral-reefs-coastal-protection-flood-damage-2018-6

[2] https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WGIIAR5-Chap5_FINAL.pdf

[3] http://nrcsolutions.org/oyster-reefs/

[4] https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/habitat-conservation/oyster-reef-habitat

[5] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44925-6

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/bluecarbon.html

[9] https://www.billionoysterproject.org/

[10] https://www.billionoysterproject.org/

[11] https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/new-york-city-restoring-oysters-lessons-learned-2019.pdf

[12] https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/new-york-city-restoring-oysters-lessons-learned-2019.pdf

[13] https://www.patagonia.com/stories/timber-to-tideline-hama-hama-oysters/story-33093.html

[14] https://www.patagoniaprovisions.com/blogs/stories/regenerative-ocean-farming-the-least-deadliest-catch

[15] https://www.patagoniaprovisions.com/blogs/stories/regenerative-ocean-farming-the-least-deadliest-catch

[16] https://seyccat.org/feasibility-study-to-determine-the-economic-viability-to-operate-a-rock-oyster-farm-for-commercial-purposes-in-seychelles/

[17] https://seyccat.org/feasibility-study-to-determine-the-economic-viability-to-operate-a-rock-oyster-farm-for-commercial-purposes-in-seychelles/