Friday, October 29, 2010

Pacific Ocean for your children and all of us

The Pacific Voyage Media Team 29 October Nagoya Japan -

The Pacific Ocean 2020 Challenge needs a body like the Pacific Ocean Commission to achieve its goals.

The point was raised by H.E Isikeli Mataitoga, Ambassador of Fiji to Japan, during a side event at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) on the Convention of Biological Convention (CBD) at the Nagoya Congress Centre.

“You need a body that can bring together all the issues under sustainable development,” Mr Mataitoga said.

“One that will run and keep this important Challenge in the forefront of politicians and senior democrats in the region.  This body should be able to front up to politicians and say, look guys, the Pacific Ocean is for your children, your children’s children and for all of us and we need to keep it sustainable. It won’t be a Pacific Ocean if it is not sustainable in the long term.”

The Ambassador said the Pacific Ocean 2020 Challenge also needs a framework that’s going to make everybody happy.

“But there will be obstacles,” he warned.

“There are regional frameworks that already exist in law and practise that may be considered in the long term but that has to take its shape and provision from the CBD because it is the only convention at the UN level that has a wide acceptance in this point of time."

Bernard O'Callaghan, Regional Programme Coordinator of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said part of the challenge is the fact the Pacific ocean is big.

“It’s the biggest geographical feature in the world. Governments have a number of interests. The bigger challenge is getting on the agenda of the larger countries,” he said.  “The Pacific Ocean is under resourced. People tend to use it for transport, for fish it’s all about extracting resources from the Pacific.”

The Pacific Ocean 2020 Challenge sets out to protect the Pacific Ocean.

“There is a whole lot of endangered species [in the Pacific Ocean],” he said. “Tuna is vitally important for the community, vitally important for the economies of the Pacific islands. Appropriate attention needs to be paid to ensure these tuna stocks stay viable for the long term.”

The Pacific Ocean, he said, is very important to the world.

“Two out of three fish in the world come out of the Pacific ocean so it’s important that the Pacific Ocean is managed sustainably for the long term,” said Mr O'Callaghan.

The challenge involves working with a number of governments in the Pacific region where they are asked to work together to manage the ocean.

“This is so we can firstly share good long term sustainable governance for the Pacific ocean, share research, share education, share training, identify additional financial resources for cooperation,” he said.  “Some of these changes take time; it’s not going to happen very quickly. We need to build momentum over the next two to three years.”
The Challenge was discussed at the Pacific Islands Forum this year.

According to the Challenge’s website, The Pacific Ocean 2020 Challenge aims to forge partnerships with sectors of ocean users who have not previously been fully engaged in ocean governance initiatives, and spanning geographic areas beyond the traditional ‘Pacific region’.

Working with Pacific Ocean-wide coalitions for action will enable the Challenge to complement and enhance stakeholder-engaging activities already established by intergovernmental regional agencies and NGOs around the region, thus avoiding duplication of activities.

In doing so, it is envisioned that a holistic and practical approach to ocean governance in the region will become a reality, and that the region will have a sustainable and healthy Pacific Ocean by 2020.

According to the Pacific Ocean Synthesis report, the Pacific Ocean is faced with major threats of “pollution, habitat destruction, overfishing and harvesting and climate change.” 

The Pacific Ocean accounts for half of our planet’s total ocean area and a full one-third of the planet’s surface, making it the largest single geographic feature on our planet.  This vast region supports many complex ecosystems and ocean-based economies, producing a wealth of resources for local and global consumption.  However, sustainably managing these natural and economic resources presents an enormous challenge.

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