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PM: Small island nations fiercest defenders of our oceans

PM: Small island nations fiercest defenders of our oceans
From left: Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, former President of Seychelles James Michel, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Milner Tozaka and Pacific Island Development Forum Secretary-General Francois Martel during the Pacific Blue Economy Conference at the Grand Pacific Hotel on August 23, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar
August 24
09:19 2017

Our oceans, and the life they sustain, face threats more severe than at any time in our history.

And as Pacific Island nations, it is critical that we lead the charge in advancing the responsible stewardship of our oceans and the sustainable management of our ocean resources.

This was the message from incoming COP23 President Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at Pacific Island Development Forum’s first high level Pacific Blue Economy Conference which is currently underway at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva.

Attending the two-day meeting are regional stakeholders including Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga, former President of Seychelles James Michel and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Solomon Islands Milner Tozaka.

“Our very identity as Pacific Islanders is tied intimately to the health of our oceans and to the marine plant and animal life that inhabit them. We are oceanic peoples, with cultures, histories and ways of life that are all rooted in the ocean environment.

And, make no mistake, it is we in the Pacific who face the most severe consequences of the widespread degradation of our oceans and seas.”

He also said climate change not only affected the Pacific island countries but the entire world as well.

“The growing threat to our oceans is affecting every person on earth, and the movement towards more “blue” economies is global. And we need to apply that global perspective – that wealth of knowledge and experiences – to our own efforts to manage our oceans and marine resources in a more sustainable manner.”

Mr Bainimarama took the opportunity to also stress that his Presidency of COP23 is a Pacific presidency and the world should look to all small island nations as the fiercest defenders of our oceans and their resources, and as a shining example of how development and sustainable oceans management can go hand-in-hand.

A major focus of the Presidency will also be on promoting blue economic development.

Mr Bainimarama said: “Our warming atmosphere is also raising the temperatures of our oceans and exacerbating ocean acidification.

“Challenges that we have been forced to confront on top of the incredible stress brought on by illegal over-fishing and irresponsible waste disposal into our oceans.

“It is a hard truth to accept, but in some ways it is already too late.”

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola


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