The World Bank today welcomed the high priority that the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum is placing on oceans, a critical issue for the region and the world. Focusing on 'Large Ocean Island States - the Pacific Challenge', next week the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum will explore how best to manage the world’s largest ocean to deliver the greatest benefits to the region.
The Pacific Ocean is home to the world’s biggest remaining tuna stocks and its most pristine coral reefs, and is an essential source of economic growth for Pacific Island countries. Fisheries support food and livelihoods for millions of people across the Asia-Pacific region and in some Pacific Island countries provide more than half of gross national product.
However, the ocean faces threats from over-fishing, pollution and climate change. Annually more than 786,000 tonnes of fish are illegally taken from the Pacific and its tuna fisheries are in danger of being over exploited.
"The Pacific Ocean unites all the countries in the region," said Marea Hatziolos, Senior Coastal and Marine Specialist for the World Bank. "Tremendous progress has been achieved regionally in fisheries agreements and conservation, but the battle is not yet won. This is a timely focus, at a critical juncture for Pacific Island populations."
"The challenge facing the region today is ensuring Pacific Island countries can capture maximum benefits from this vital resource while ensuring it remains healthy and productive," said Hatziolos. "We wish to congratulate Pacific Islands Governments in recognizing this as a regional priority for action, and hope to be able to support these ocean commitments moving forward."
Ocean health is a global as well as a regional priority, with important initiatives like the Pacific Oceanscape Framework having gathered major momentum. In addition, the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), of which the World Bank is a member along with over 100 other partners, will also be focusing on improving the health of the Pacific Ocean.
The GPO was formally launched at Rio +20 in June this year. It seeks to help implement global commitments to reduce pollution, restore and protect critical ocean habitats, and support sustainable and productive fisheries. It presents a unique opportunity to bring additional finance, knowledge and innovation to address major threats to ocean health and help capture the benefits of ocean stewardship in partnership with Pacific Island nations and other stakeholders in the region.
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