Fijian PM’s historic move towards protecting our ocean can increase climate resilience, benefit local livelihoods, safeguard biodiversity and strengthen the economy, says Susana Waqainabete-Tuisese

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s announcement of Fiji’s move towards protecting 30 per cent and sustainably managing 100 percent of our ocean by 2030 by committing more than 8 percent of our ocean in the Lau Seascape to marine protection by 2024 echoes the collective will of Pacific peoples.

Conservation International Pacific senior director Susana Waqainabete-Tuisese said this in a statement in response to Bainimarama’s statement at the United Nations Ocean Conference.

Waqainabete-Tuisese said Fiji’s decisive action to accelerate ocean management was bold, and the seascape approach in the Lau province would effectively manage 30 per cent of its marine area of 335,000 square kilometres, creating over 100,000 square kilometres of marine protected areas.

“Once established, these marine protected areas will provide Fiji and the world with a proof of concept – demonstrating how protecting 30 per cent and sustainably managing 100 per cent of an ocean area can benefit local livelihoods, increase resilience to climate change, safeguard biodiversity and strengthen the economy,” she said.

“The Lau Seascape is the most remote island group in Fiji, home to remarkable biodiversity and stunning ecosystems that provide food, cultural value, and livelihoods for its 9600 inhabitants.

“Facing immense threats to their environment and culture that mirror challenges across the world, the customary leaders of Lau, with support from the government and partners, have committed to protect their ocean home for current and future generations.”

Waqainabete-Tuisese said the move was historic, made possible by the bold leadership of the Fijian Government with the customary leaders and people of Lau, who collectively built the Lau Seascape Initiative since 2013 with the support of multiple civil society partners.

She said the announcement by Bainimarama signified the collective will of Pacific peoples and their governments to protect and sustainably manage their oceans at all costs, against the impacts of climate change.

“The Blue Nature Alliance has supported the Lau Seascape Initiative as the alliance’s first investment site.”

She added Lau was an example and inspiration as they sought solutions globally to the urgent climate and biodiversity crisis.

“We must help secure vital support and financing mechanisms to implement such bold vision and we must do it now – at a time our ocean needs it most,” she said.

Credit: Conservation International

This story was written by Ian Chute, originally published at Fiji Times on 08 July 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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