Monday, December 2, 2013

Marine focus vital for action plan: SPREP Director General

 "Better focus on marine issues important since the region comprises 30,000 islands with 
98 per cent of the area covered in water"
By Justine Mannan, a journalism student from the Fiji National University
3 December 2013, Suva Fiji - A new action strategy for conservation in the Pacific to be developed at the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in Suva should focus on terrestrial and coastal marine and ocean issues, says the Director General of SPREP, David Sheppard.
In presenting a review of the previous action strategy, Mr Sheppard said a better focus on marine issues was important since the region comprises 30,000 islands with 98 per cent of the area covered in water.
“Some species such as the big eyed tuna are increasingly threatened and key species such as sea turtles. I think the leather back turtle, in fact, went up a category of threat in the IUCN red list which was released three weeks ago,” Mr Sheppard said.

Mr. David Sheppard, SPREP Director General 

He added in order to protect marine resources, it is important that communities come together, from grassroots level to help protect marine species.
“In our region as we know, virtually all land, is owned under community ownership, land and marine resources and the people have the experience of many of thousands of years of living sustainably with their environment.”
Mr Sheppard added: “Any conservation programmes must be implemented with and through local communities.”
Mr Sheppard suggested retaining the mission, visions and goals of the previous Action Strategy because they were still considered valid for the next five years. However, it was up to participants to decide while reviewing progress.
The Action Strategy is significant because it provides a regional framework for the conservation which guides the Pacific Island countries and territories, the donors, NGOs and regional organisations.
Justine Mannan is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji.  This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference.  This activity is  funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).

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