By Priya Chand, journalism student at USP
Pacific Nature Conference Closing Bulletin 2013, Suva Fiji - Tokelau has taken several measures to protect its marine resources to ensure that their future generations can enjoy the same natural luxuries, said one of the island nation's environment leaders Mr. Mika Perez.
Mr. Perez, who is Tokelau's Director of Natural Resources and Environment, said one measure was the marine sanctuaries that had been declared for the protection of specific marine mammals.
“Firstly, Tokelau has declared itself as a whale sanctuary and in 2011, declared itself as a shark sanctuary,” he said.
“This is done to save the sharks from becoming extinct.”
He said since the sanctuaries were declared, Tokelau had noted improvements in the marine resources in their water.
“We see more whales regularly around the islands more than before,” he said.
“It is definitely working and we are glad to see these whales in our waters.”
He said Tokelau's leaders saw it as their duty to work with other island nations to save the marine mammals from becoming extinct.
In terms of challenges, Mr. Perez said they faced many but tried their best to overcome it.
“One of the challenges is that we still have not got proper ways to enforce on locals the rules
and regulations,” he said.
“There’s also the use of modern methods of fishing like using the fishing nets that could be harmful to the fisheries.”
However, he said major stakeholders like the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and several others helped Tokelau to build their capacity and manage their marine resources.
Mr. Perez said it was important for everybody to work together to give back to the future generation what the older generation had been gifted.
Priya Chand 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).