Sunday 17 June 2012

Oceans Special 2: Sustainable development for Pacific Oceans

Mr Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

 FFA Director General Su’a Tanielu
17 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The head of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) says the interests of Pacific Small Islands Developing Countries, especially in Oceans must be represented in the outcomes of the Rio+20.

Rio+20 host Brazil is leading consultations to finalise an outcomes document on sustainable development and the environment, which world leaders will consider next week.

With the Western Pacific Ocean providing half of the global catch of tuna, at 2 million tonnes per year, FFA Director General Su’a Tanielu says oceans conservation is vital for the future of Pacific Island countries.

“Our message is that the interests of Small Islands Developing States, especially Pacific Island countries, must be taken into serious consideration.”

Speaking at the Oceans Day side event at Rio+20, Mr Tanielu says the following principles of sustainable development must be included in the outcomes document;

(i) Ensure that all fisheries policies are based on and informed by good science and with relevance and recognition of SIDS special requirements and development aspirations including SIDS participation in fisheries in ABNJs;

(ii) Maximisation of economic benefits and values of fisheries incl. promotion of sustainable investment and transfer of technology to SIDS interests;

(iii) Ensure global and regional high level decisions do not necessary result in transferring, directly or indirectly, a disproportionate burden of conservation actions onto SIDS and LDCs;

(iv) Continuous efforts to develop and implement robust Monitoring, Control and Surveillance regimes to reduce economic opportunities lost due to Illegal Unregulated and Unreported activities; and

(v) Well-defined role of SIDS in the development and implementation of international fisheries and fisheries related instruments including those of UNCLOS, UNFSA, FAO Code of Conduct for responsible fisheries, FAO International Plan of Actions and Technical Guidelines, and the propose implementing agreement under UNCLOS for areas beyond national jurisdictions.

As consultations on the text of the Rio+20 outcomes document continues, Mr Tanielu says the early signs show that countries have been receptive to the ideas of ocean conservation and fisheries management.

The same sentiments were shared by Sefanaia Nawardra, the Director of Environmental Monitoring and Governance at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Mr Nawadra says Oceans have proven to be less contentious than other issues on the negotiation table.

The theme of the Oceans Day side event is “Advancing Oceans, Coast and Island States at Rio+20 and Beyond.”

Pacific Islands countries, high level government representatives, international organizations, NGO’s, industry and the science community took part in the daylong event to discuss a range of issues affecting Oceans.

The Director General of the FFA says Oceans play a big part in the lives of Pacific Islanders, not only through economic returns through fisheries but also through culture.

“For some small developing countries it is an integral part of their culture and livelihood. Fisheries resources offer a lifeline to many coastal and island communities. We all have responsibility to preserve these resources not only for vulnerable communities but also for generations to come.”

Mr. Tanielu says in terms of oceans conservation and fisheries management, Pacific Island countries are leading the way.

Oceans Special 2: Ocean acidification a concern for SIDS

Kathleen Leewai, Intern, SPREP

17 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Small Island Developing States raised their concerns about ocean acidification during Oceans Day at Rio+20.

Linked to climate change and the warming of oceans, ocean acidification is the consequence of rising pH levels in oceans. This is a result of the oceans absorbing larger amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Agreeing with this, the Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Issues from Seychelles, Ambassador Ronald Jumeau, says that the cause of ocean acidification is the rise in CO2 emissions and called for immediate action to reduce emissions.

“Only deep cuts in emissions can help us now,” he said.

“You can address pollution and other management measures, but there is no management measure for ocean acidification and ocean warming. It is in the emissions, the emissions have to be cut.”

Ocean acidification and other elements that link to climate change such as coastal erosion and salination of water sources have been identified as serious concerns for the Pacific region, especially in Fiji.

“The challenges posed by these occurrences are faced on daily basis by people living in coastal regions,” says Mr. Luke Daunivalu, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Fiji to the United Nations.

“They have to do so much more just to live day by day by going further out in order to catch fish or to travel longer distances for their children to go to school. These issues are affecting real economic livelihoods and causing challenges that were not there before.”

Daunivalu says that the Fiji has brought these issues to Rio in the hopes that the outcomes will reflect the need for clear recognition and a firm commitment from all countries to contribute to the alleviation of the challenges faced in the Pacific.

Oceans Special 2: Four Pacific nations support new Global Partnership for Oceans initiative

By Makereta Komai, Editor, PACNEWS

World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, Rachel Kyte

17 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Four Pacific Islands Countries – Fiji, Kiribati, Palau and Samoa have declared their support for the new Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), whose aim is to restore the world’s oceans to health productivity.

In addition, four regional organisations based in the Pacific – the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) have also thrown their support to this global initiative launched on the sidelines of the Rio+20 conference.

FFA’s director general, Su’a Tanielu says while his organisation supports the global initiative, he remains cautious.

“There are merits in these types of partnerships because the World Bank will bring financial resources and expertise to develop our fisheries, as long as we can monitor their activity and ensure there is no duplication of efforts. We also want to ensure that they don’t cut across the initiatives we already have in place.

“We have to ensure that what the World Bank brings into the region doesn’t compromise the interest of our members in terms of fisheries management and compliance, said Tanielu.

Among those throwing their public support behind a “Declaration for Healthy and Productive Oceans to Help Reduce Poverty” are 17 private firms and associations including some of the largest seafood purchasing companies in the world, representing over $6 billion per year in seafood sales, as well as one of the world’s largest cruise lines.

So far, 13 nations, 27 civil society groups, 17 private sector firms and associations, seven research institutions, five UN agencies and conventions, seven regional and multi-lateral organisations and seven private foundations are supporting the Declaration - totaling 83. Further support is expected in the run-up to the formal Rio+20 Conference.

The Global Partnership for Oceans is a new and diverse coalition of public, private, civil society, research and multilateral interests working together for healthy and productive oceans. It was first announced in February 2012 by World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick at the World Oceans Summit and has been gathering growing support.

Announcing the unprecedented public statement of commitment in a keynote address to the Global Ocean Forum in Rio at the Oceans Day side event, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, Rachel Kyte who said the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) had garnered enormous support from across the oceans spectrum.

“Everyone can see the value in being part of a Partnership that aims to turn around the decline in our oceans,” Kyte said.

“Everyone stands to benefit if the oceans are better protected, better managed and better understood for the important ecosystem services they provide.”

The Declaration commits the Partnership to mobilizing “significant human, financial and institutional resources for effective public and private investments in priority ocean areas”. It aims to improve capacity and close the recognized gap in action in implementing global, regional and national commitments for healthy and productive oceans.

It also recognizes that despite global commitments made to date as well as the efforts of many organisations, governments, enterprises and individuals, the oceans remain “under severe threat from pollution, unsustainable harvesting of ocean resources, habitat destruction, ocean acidification and climate change”.

To tackle these threats, the Partnership is targeting three key focus areas: sustainable seafood and livelihoods from capture fisheries and aquaculture; critical coastal and ocean habitats and biodiversity and pollution reduction.

Among the GPO’s agreed goals are targets for significantly increasing global food fish production from sustainable aquaculture and sustainable fisheries; halving the current rate of natural habitat loss and increasing marine-managed and protected areas to at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas; and reducing marine pollution especially from marine litter, waste water and excess nutrients.

An Island Hub at Rio+20

Ms Brianna Fruean, 14 years, Samoa

17 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Island Hub is a colourful Exhibition booth set up in Pavilion B inside Athletes Park. It is a place for Islanders and friends of Islanders that get together to talk and network but mainly showcase the Islands for the world to see.

“Rio +20 is such a crazy event, Island Hub gives the chance for people to kick back and find their roots” said Jessica Robbins, Islands Communications Manager (GLIPSA).

“The Island Hub hopes to create connections, build relationships between Islands from the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean and it showcases the power of the Islands and what they are capable of.”

It also highlights the great work the islands have done in implementing initiatives for “green” economic solutions. It is a very bright and positive spot that shows the big steps that Islanders have taken. All the tables are covered with the most colourful and bright table cloths with big flowers, motifs and tapa designs, showing pacific flavour.

People that pass by often stop and stare at the bright colour table cloths and the posters on the walls and would ask “What place is that?”

The Island Hub is the perfect spot for Islanders to meet up, share, wind down a bit and re-group before they carry on with the serious parts of the meetings. To me, I think that Island Hub adds a balance from the hectic schedule of Rio+20.

Oceans Special: Fiji advocates for healthy oceans

Story by Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

16 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Fiji and the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) have strongly advocated for more political will to be directed from the Rio+20 towards the well-being of oceans and fisheries, as well as to the strengthening of the connection between oceans and sustainable development.

“If sustainable development is our core motivator and lies at the heart of our actions today, then we can build a future that secures the livelihood of coming generations,” said the Ambassador of Fiji to Brazil, Ambassador Cama Tuiloma.

“Likewise if the international community is to move from rhetoric to action in saving the declining health of global oceans, we must address the root causes in a truly comprehensive, direct and honest manner now.”

Ambassador of Fiji to Brazil, Ambassadr Cama Tuiloma
An important issue relating to oceans raised by Fiji was the needs for the outcomes document address the gaps that are known to exist.

“For example, in the Law of the Sea Convention, we need an implementing agreement to address the marine biodiversity in the high seas,” said Mr. Luke Daunivalu, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Fiji to the United Nations.

He also mentioned oceans issues with elements linked to climate change, such as ocean acidification, coastal erosion, and salination of water sources, as these issues have serious impacts on the economic and social aspects of life in the Pacific, particularly for people living in coastal regions.

Solidarity and a strong Pacific voice for oceans, 16 June 2012

From Fiji to Papua New Guinea to Samoa then on to Rio! Ms. Kathleen Leewai, the Publications and Communications Intern at SPREP is attending her first international environment conference - the Rio+20, this has been made possible with support from PACMAS, SPREP and Conservation International Pacific Island Program. Born and raised in Fiji, Kathleen has lived in Papua New Guinea, Australia and now in Samoa at SPREP where she works as the Publications and Communications Intern. This is Kathleens first time outside of the Pacific region, read about her experiences!

"Day 6 in Rio was slated for a full day side event; Oceans Day at Rio+20, organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands and their partners.

It was an intense day, immersing myself in the oceans issues brought to the conference by countries and NGOs. The issues for oceans ranged from oceans acidification and climate change effects to sustainable livelihoods and food security in the fisheries sector.

The sessions ran as panels with short presentations from a number of distinguished speakers, including the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Mr. Tuiloma Neroni Slade, who is also the newly appointed Pacific Oceanscape Commissioner and who chaired a number of the sessions.

I watched with pride as delegates from the Pacific Islands spoke clearly and simply of the challenges faced by the nations in the region and the steps we are taking to have these issues acknowledged by world leaders in Rio.

As I left the side event this evening following the presentation of the Global Ocean Forum’s declaration to the coordinators for Rio+20, I recalled a line that was repeated several times by speakers from the Pacific; “we are not just small island states, rather we are large ocean nations”. "

Oceans Special: Pacific Oceanscape Commissioner at Oceans Day

By Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

16 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Pacific Oceanscape Commissioner has reiterated the importance of Oceans to Pacific Small Islands Developing Countries.

Speaking at the Oceans Day side event at Rio+20, Tuiloma Neroni Slade says the Pacific's unique biodiversity has to be protected.

Pacific Islands Forum SG at Ocean Day from Wasuka Media on Vimeo.

Oceans Special: GEF rolls out investment project to address issues for areas in the high seas beyond national jurisdiction

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor

L- R Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Gustavo Fonseca, GEF’s head of natural resources

16 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Global Environment Facility (GEF) will roll out a new project it hopes will address the plight of high priority areas for marine biodiversity and high seas fisheries.

And one of the likely targeted areas is the high seas in the Pacific that are outside beyond national jurisdiction, according to Gustavo Fonseca, GEF’s head of natural resources.

“It has not been decided yet but the Pacific is an important area because governments of the region have decided to already put some political backing behind it and decided that in those places that just happened to be outside of anybody’s jurisdiction.

“In addition, Pacific governments have decided to manage this in a more sustainable way. I think that will be one of the focus of the project but the project is still in design phase and it might very well be the case, Fonseca told PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai who is in Rio de Janeiro covering the Rio+20 conference.

GEF has set aside US$50 million in its current replenishment to pilot three investments projects to try and manage fisheries in a sustainable manner in areas beyond national jurisdiction and also establish marine protected areas in these areas.

GEF is the financing mechanism for three Rio conventions – climate change, bio-diversity and desertification.

“The project is now under implementation of the FAO and several other agencies like the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP and others, particularly addressing the plight of high priority areas for marine biodiversity and high seas fisheries. It brings together the private sector because what happens is that due to the over exploitation of fisheries is of interest to the private sector companies like big tuna canneries.

“This project is starting implementation right now and should run the course for the next five years, said Fonseca.

GEF’s interest arose from the need for global mechanism to regulate activities on the high seas outside the control of states.

“We have the Law of the Sea but it does not have enough teeth to actually do anything. We also have the regional fisheries management organisation but this is not a global treaty and they are regional treaties. We see the high seas as the last frontier to be tackled. It is nobody’s territory but everybody’s territory to exploit. We hope that if this investment can prove that we can do something right away, then we can appropriate more resources through replenishment to do the same thing, said Fonseca.

The project, Fonseca said, also hope to resolve the dilemma of who owns the resources of pockets of areas beyond national jurisdictions.

“What we want to do is to link investments that we have to what happens in the high seas. So we need to bridge this gap somehow and there is no framework yet or a treaty for this purpose. Eventually all the fish caught has to land somewhere and it becomes somebody’s business and therefore this dilemma needs to be solved, Fonseca said.