Bainimarama Warns Against Polluting Ocean Resources
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says one of the greatest challenges the world has ever faced is the current threat to the health of our oceans and seas.
“The unrelenting degradation of this precious resource should be a matter of grave concern to every person on the planet,” he said.
He was speaking recently at the Fiji-Sweden Ocean Summit event in New York.
“Certainly for a Small Island Developing State such as Fiji, it is an issue almost as pressing as the extreme weather events and rising sea levels caused by climate change,” Mr Bainimarama said.
“Because the seas are our life-blood; and without the bounty they provide us with on a daily basis, the health and wellbeing of our people – along with their livelihoods – is clearly at risk.”
He said he was delighted to be in New York as Fiji and Sweden came together to highlight their joint hosting of the United Nations Conference on Oceans in June next year. He thanked the Swedish government for partnering with Fiji on this vitally important initiative. He also thanked the Swedish Mission at the UN for holding this event.
He asked all stakeholders to do everything they could to promote this conference and draw global attention to the issues at stake – the urgent need to reverse the pollution, the overfishing and the destruction of marine habitats. The problem, he said, had reached crisis proportions in so many parts of the world.
He said as a former sailor and officer in the Fijian Navy, “The sea has been my life. And I have a huge affinity to it.
“I have witnessed the steady deterioration of our seas and oceans over the years with my own eyes,” he said
“Where once all our Pacific waters were pristine, now parts are clogged with plastic bags and bottles.
“Where once you could throw a line out over the side and be guaranteed a catch, often the fish are few and far between; because in far too many instances, our waters have been stripped.
“The selfish commercial plunder of our seas by unscrupulous nations and unscrupulous interests is not only robbing our people of a precious resource; the current level of overfishing simply cannot continue for a moment longer without putting stocks at risk; as well destroying the source of food and income on which so many of our coastal communities depend.
“In addition, the dumping of rubbish at sea has also reached crisis proportions.
“In some instances, it is admittedly our own people who have yet to appreciate that they cannot use our pristine waters as a rubbish dump and that most things they throw into the ocean are not bio-degradable.
“And we are doing what we can to educate them. But there is nothing small Pacific Island nations can do about the huge deposits of refuse – and especially plastic bags and bottles – that originate from countries on the Pacific rim and are carried by the ocean currents into our own waters.
“By global standards, the waters around Fiji are still relatively unpolluted and we want to keep it that way for ourselves and our international visitors.
“But I am deeply concerned about any further deterioration in the quality of the water around us from outside sources.
“And the overfishing that is taking place and is threatening the interests of every Fijian.”
Edited by Rusiate Mataika