Superpower interest in the Pacific region is not new, said Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe.
He said this is an impression given to people because there is very little to no mainstream media attention on the Pacific.
Of late, the region has been under the spotlight.
Mr Kofe said the Pacific had a lot to offer which interested nations like the United States, China and other key players.
“These so-called superpowers have always focused on the Pacific. We have seen countries focusing on the Pacific for its phosphate resources, as a nuclear testing ground, and for its fisheries since World War II and before,” Mr Kofe told the Pacific Advocate.
“In fact, what we are told is a new trend in the Pacific, is not. I think there has not really been enough sustained attention to the Pacific on the part of the mainstream media and the general public throughout the world, and this has led to the impression that “superpower” interest in the Pacific is new.
“In reality, we have been seeking Pacific solutions to the positive and negative interests of outside ‘powers’ in our region throughout our history.”
Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands. In the French Polynesia atoll Mururoa, France conducted 181 nuclear tests of which 41 were atmospheric.
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It is not a secret that the Pacific Ocean is resource rich. Marine bounty ensures a rich fishing ground and latest scientific findings show minerals such as cobalt, nickel and manganese on the ocean floor.
Mr Kofe said the geopolitical tension over the Pacific will see lucrative diplomatic deals for Pacific nations.
He said fisheries is a big interest of many nations.
“The Pacific is the richest fishing ground in the world and is said to be the last healthy fish stock of tuna, which is a tribute to the conservation and management measures applied by Pacific Island countries,” he said.
“We feed the world from our exclusive economic zones and support the economies of Japan, China, and many countries around the world, but we carry a disproportionate burden when protecting these zones.
“Bigger players that are coming into the region need to look at what the Pacific is doing right now with fisheries and adopt those approaches. Of course, we may receive better offers on fisheries agreements and licensing now due to geopolitical tension in the region.
“But we must remember that maintaining sustainable fishing and our cutting-edge Pacific approaches to fisheries is more important than letting ourselves be overfished because outside nations are now showing more interest in our fish stocks.”