Improving Conservation And Sustainable Management Of Coastal And Marine Biodiversity In The Pacific


Representatives from five Pacific island countries have been in Nadi this week to begin the development of regional and national plans to implement the European Union (EU) funded Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) programme Bycatch and Integrated Ecosystem Management (BIEM) component, to ensure that it contributes to achieving national and regional objectives and meets the needs of national governments and coastal communities.

The BIEM component of the PEUMP programme is being implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. BIEM comprises support for bycatch mitigation, marine spatial planning, integrated ecosystem management and climate change adaptation. The first two days of the SPREP workshop were dedicated to introducing the scope of the initiative and giving country representatives the opportunity to present their priorities for the sustainable management of coastal resources and marine biodiversity.

The workshop was officially opened by Mr Joshua Wycliffe, Permanent Secretary for Waterways and the Environment of the Government of Fiji, who stressed the importance of the task that lay ahead of them in protecting our ocean and the vast resources within, which he referred to as “Blue Gold”. “The ocean has been a boundless reservoir of resources which has provided for and still has, the ability to provide for generations, but there is a big if between what it is and what it is threatening to be. That fate is in our hands. The outcomes of this meeting and the implementations we take back to our countries can ensure that this vital resource will continue to sustain the generations to come,” he said.

The Team Leader for Climate Change, Energy and Circular Economy of the European Union Delegation in the Pacific, Mr Adrian Nicolae, who also spoke at the official opening, said, “The work done this week will transform the planned objectives and key results into concrete actions that will make a difference on the ground and deliver tangible benefits. It is my hope that the discussions that take place here will catalyse these ideas into proposals for concrete actions for the next couple of years.” Two days of intensive planning on how activities should complement each other, as well as engagement with existing and planned regional and national initiatives to maximise the positive impacts of PEUMP Programme funding we also discussed.

Mr Åsa Hedén, Head of Development Cooperation Section, Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok, said, “Sweden welcomes the BIEM initiative to improve the sustainable management of coastal marine resources and biodiversity. Sweden strongly supports the collaborative approach and encourages the work to be gender-sensitive, people-centered and inclusive of coastal communities’ participation in developing durable solutions based on local realities and existing knowledge.” BIEM Project Manager, Jamie Davies, said: “We greatly appreciate the time dedicated by experts from the five Pacific countries, as well as PEUMP partners The Pacific Community and the Forum Fisheries Agency, to build a shared understanding of national and regional priorities for the sustainable management of coastal resources and marine biodiversity. This meeting provided an excellent foundation to launch a collaborative programme of work that will deliver positive change for coastal communities and marine biodiversity”. Following the conclusion of the workshop, participants shared their views on the importance of the workshop.

Mr Sione Lepa, Conservation Officer with the Department of Environment, Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) of the Kingdom of Tonga, said, “This workshop’s outputs are very significant for Tonga, not only in the areas of inshore and offshore fisheries but also with the CITES convention on endangered species. This programme will enable the Department of Environment and Ministry of Fisheries to build their capacity in these areas.”Ms Ivory Akao,Chief Fisheries Officer of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources of  Solomon Islands, added, “The work and discussions that have happened this week have helped us understand the scope of the BIEM programme and its relevance to Solomon Islands. It has also helped us to identify opportunities that we can tap into to help us address our national priorities.”

The PEUMP Programme’s BIEM component  comprises of eight integrated areas consisting of marine spatial planning; integrated ‘ridge to reef’ ecosystem strategies and coastal zone management planning; development and integration of climate change adaptation strategies into coastal community plans; assessment of bycatch of endangered species and extinction risk; development and implementation of bycatch mitigation strategies; capacity development through research grants to citizens of Pacific island countries; support for community monitoring and protection of endangered species; and capacity development of Non-Detrimental Findings process for the Convention on International Trade in endangered Species partners.  Human rights and gender equality will be core considerations in the development and implementation of each of these components. (ENDS)