Waves on the sea

These were the words used by Rena Lee of the United Nations as she presided over the signing of a landmark deal earlier this month aimed at protecting ocean life. Endorsed by 193 countries, this is the first international agreement on ocean protection since 1982. Think of it as a hugely important victory for life on earth.

The deal is significant in the sense that for the first time, the global community has agreed to protect the world’s ‘high seas’ – the waters beyond the jurisdiction of any single country. They amount to around 60% of the world’s oceans. Previously unregulated, it has been hard to prevent overfishing in these waters as well as potential contamination and disruption to marine ecosystems. Seas are crucial for our planet and our lives. They produce about half the oxygen in our atmosphere while absorbing every third carbon dioxide molecule we emit. In addition, they supply much of what we eat.

Against this background, it is disturbing to learn that more than 171tr pieces of plastic are now estimated to be floating in the world’s oceans, up from 16tr in 2005 (per the Plastic Marine Pollution Global Dataset). Every day, the equivalent of one dump truck of plastic alone is tipped into the ocean every minute. On an annualised basis, the total weight of all that plastic would be equivalent to 90 aircraft carriers (per Pew Research). Assuming this estimate is accurate, then by 2050, there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish.

The UN High Seas Treaty will go some way to addressing (and hopefully reducing) this dire prediction. It is also a rare example of multilateralism in a world where geopolitical relations are febrile. We have been warning of the dangers of plastic pollution since 2018. Treaties are a necessary but not sufficient part of the solution, in our view. We believe that all stakeholders need to embrace alternative packaging solutions to plastic – such as aseptic and recyclable cartons. In addition, a broader, holistic approach would see a more rapid deployment of renewable energy sources and broad circular economy solutions (see our February 2023 note for further details) as well as an increasing emphasis on sustainably farmed fish. We still have more metaphorical shores to reach.

16 March 2023

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Click here to view all Blog posts.

Alex Gunz, Fund Manager

Disclaimers

The document is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice or any recommendation to buy, or sell or otherwise transact in any investments. The document is not intended to be construed as investment research. The contents of this document are based upon sources of information which Heptagon Capital LLP believes to be reliable. However, except to the extent required by applicable law or regulations, no guarantee, warranty or representation (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this document or its contents and, Heptagon Capital LLP, its affiliate companies and its members, officers, employees, agents and advisors do not accept any liability or responsibility in respect of the information or any views expressed herein. Opinions expressed whether in general or in both on the performance of individual investments and in a wider economic context represent the views of the contributor at the time of preparation. Where this document provides forward-looking statements which are based on relevant reports, current opinions, expectations and projections, actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. All opinions and estimates included in the document are subject to change without notice and Heptagon Capital LLP is under no obligation to update or revise information contained in the document. Furthermore, Heptagon Capital LLP disclaims any liability for any loss, damage, costs or expenses (including direct, indirect, special and consequential) howsoever arising which any person may suffer or incur as a result of viewing or utilising any information included in this document. 

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