COP27: Call for UNFCCC and UN to Recognise Fish as “Carbon Engineers”


Fish are Carbon Engineers

Sharm El-Sheikh, 11 November 2022:- Fish are Carbon Engineers – that’s the message of a briefing paper released today at COP27 by the Our Fish campaign, which is urging political leaders to act decisively to mainstream good fisheries management as effective carbon management within UNFCCC and UN processes. The paper was presented during today’s “Fish are Carbon Engineers” breakfast side event at the COP27 Ocean Pavilion (video will be available).

The event featured speakers from the scientific community and civil society discussing evidence in support of good fisheries management as effective carbon management, and opportunities for maximising this to deliver on climate action commitments. 

“World leaders must take urgent action to protect the ocean carbon system so that fish can do their job as carbon engineers – capturing, sequestering and storing carbon”, said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. 

“COP27 is being dubbed the ‘Implementation COP’, because we urgently need implementation of more ambitious commitments to avoid climate breakdown; our message is that world leaders can implement climate action quickly by supporting ecosystem-based fisheries management as good carbon management, whilst also improving resilience and adaptation,” said Ms Hubbard.

“Fish, like whales and plankton, are part of the ocean biological pump, the system constantly at work capturing and storing carbon from Earth’s atmosphere”, said Dr. Emma Cavan, Research Fellow, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London. “Good fisheries Management can help to conserve that system. World leaders at COP27 must understand that fish are carbon engineers and act upon that knowledge by using ecosystem-based fisheries management to aid them in this vital job – restoring their populations, conserving food webs, and prohibiting activities that are destructive to seabeds and ecosystems.” 

According to Fish are Carbon Engineers, “Unless urgent and comprehensive action is taken, we are heading towards societal collapse as a result of breaching multiple planetary boundaries [1]. Restoring fish populations would play a critical role in maintaining the ocean’s considerable potential to deliver climate action, while delivering multiple co-benefits”.

Our Fish urges national leaders at COP27 to:

  • List and implement ecosystem based fisheries management as carbon management in their NDCS, by minimising carbon and ecosystem impacts of fishing.
  • Remove fuel tax subsidies that fuel overfishing and climate breakdown
  • Ensure that the annual Ocean & Climate Change Dialogue develops concrete, action-oriented goals that will support countries to deliver ocean-climate action such as managing fisheries sustainably. 
  • Recognise the outcomes of the Ocean & Climate Change Dialogue 2022 in the overarching decision, and support mainstreaming ocean-climate action within the UNFCCC and other UN bodies.
  • Increase knowledge, capacity and funding for ocean-climate action, including broadening the blue carbon accounting system to include fish. 
  • Recognise and incorporate ocean-based climate action as reflected in the 2022 UN Ocean Conference and Political Declaration [2].


Download pdf: Fish are Carbon Engineers

Video will be available on the event page later in the day

See also: COP27 Comes to Brussels with Message: Fish are Carbon Engineers

Contact: Dave Walsh,, +34 691 826 764



[1] United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2022). Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2022: Our World at Risk: Transforming Governance for a Resilient Future. Geneva. ISBN: 9789212320281

[2] 2022 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development Lisbon, 27 June–1 July 2022


About Our Fish

Our Fish is working to end overfishing and restore a healthy ocean ecosystem.

By collaborating with others, and deploying robust evidence, we are calling for an end to overfishing as a critical and significant action to address the biodiversity and climate crisis.