A very big commitment has been taken by Fiji at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, which includes having 30 per cent of its ocean as marine protected area and banning all single use plastic by 2030.
Prime Minister and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Voreqe Bainimarama said that by 2030, all of Fiji’s waters will be sustainably managed.
In the last few years, Mr Bainimarama has risen as a voice championing climate issues that affect the region as a whole, and as chair of the PIF, he has led the charge in Lisbon.
“Today we go further. By 2024, the Lau Seascape –– an area of ocean that represents eight per cent of Fiji’s ocean –– will become a Marine Protected Area. The Lau Seascape is an initiative of conservation groups and the people of Lau,” he said.
“Ocean literacy will be a mandatory component of our education system and we’ll slash carbon emissions in our shipping sector by 40 per cent.
“After fully mapping our entire 1.3 million square kilometer EEZ by 2025, we will achieve total real-time surveillance of Fiji’s waters.”
These are ambitious commitments.
Fiji has also committed that by 2030 it will produce more than 160,000 metric tonnes of sustainably farmed and harvested ocean product, supporting over 53,000 new jobs.
The nations aims to supply half of all blue foods from sustainable fisheries by 2035.
These ambitious commitments require ambitious funding. For this he joined Palau’s President Surangel Whipps Jr in calling world leaders to scale up ocean finance to fund initiatives such as these.
“These protections can’t wait. These investments can’t wait, nor can the jobs they create. And Fiji won’t wait for the world to plug the gap in global ocean finance,” Mr Bainimarama said.
“We will launch the first tranche of a blue bond by this August to blue our economy and take on external threats like overfishing and acidification.”
In one way or another Pacific nations have in their way called upon the international community to raise their level of ambition and commitment to the recovery of ocean health.
The message has been clear – the world must invest in sustainable ocean economies.
“Fisheries are our region’s most precious resource; we supply more than half of the world’s tuna alone and our nations will be following COP-15 closely to ensure that all life, including that below water, is protected in this critical year for biodiversity,” said Mr Bainimarama.
“We also hope to see an ambitious, legally-binding Treaty of the High Seas next month.
“To stem the tidal wave of unregulated pollution crashing at our shores, we too look forward to the upcoming negotiations for a global treaty of plastics.”