World Bank commends the creation of the Pacific Ocean Alliance

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

Tuesday, 2 September 201
4, Apia, Samoa - The launching of the Pacific Ocean Alliance under the leadership of the Pacific Islands Forum has won praise from the World Bank and other ocean conservation groups and leaders attending the 3rd United Nations Conference on Small Islands Developing States in Samoa.

Ms Rachel Kyte, Vice President and Special Envoy, Climate Change Group, World Bank said leaders of the Pacific have been at the forefront in ocean protection initiatives.

She said the feedback from Pacific SIDS on the complexities of accessing World Bank loans and assistance has been useful and has led to changes in how the bank deals with small island states.

"It was during a meeting two years ago with President Tong (of Kiribati) that he told me that the bank should change its perception of its assistance to Pacific SIDS as aid, but look at it more as investments. That discussion led to the provision of US$4 million towards our tuna fishing support programme."

Mr Sefanaia Nawadra of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) said for the Pacific Ocean Alliance to work, a consultative process needs to be established as a key part of the Alliance.

"This consultative process will allow all players, stakeholders and interests to have their voices heard. Secondly, when we talk about the ocean we cannot decouple it from activities on land because what we do on land affects the ocean."

Mr Nawadra said SPREP had done some work in this area already with the release of a report on island management last week.

Pacific Islands Forum's outgoing Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade is also the Pacific Ocean Commissioner under the Pacific Ocean Alliance, which he said would bring together all partners and stakeholders in the area of ocean management.

Chair of the Forum and President of Palau Tommy Remengesau Jnr said the way forward he believes is through what he terms an "integrated and mixed management approach." This mixed management approach, he felt it would bring maximum economic benefit to the people, and at the same time conserve ocean resources for future generations.

"I call on interested parties and partners in civil society and private sector to join us in the Pacific Islands Forum conserve and manage our ocean under the Pacific Ocean Alliance."

Among the speakers at the Pacific Ocean Alliance launch in the margins of the 3rd UN Conference on SIDS was Tuvalu's Prime Minister Hon Enele Sopoaga who highlighted the lack of capacity as a hindrance to tuna stock management.

Hon Sopoaga, who is also chair of the Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA) added illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is rife in tuna rich waters of PNA member states but lack of resources make it virtually impossible for countries to enforce or monitor this big problem.

"Tuvalu for example has an EEZ that is almost one million square kilometres in size, yet our total land area is a mere 27 square km. Overfishing in the high seas also need to stop because this unscrupulous activity affects tuna stock in our EEZ. These are highly sophisticated harvesters of our tuna resources and we simply can't police or enforce compliance."

The "Our Sea, Our Livelihoods, Our Oceania: Launch of the Pacific Ocean Alliance" event was held on Monday 1 September at the UNSIDS Venue in Apia, Samoa.

Read story: Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

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