The European Union says its new funding agreement with marine agencies in the Pacific will help prevent fish laundering in the region.
The EU, along with Sweden, has pledged $US52 million to working with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community, the Regional Environment Programme and the University of the South Pacific over the next five years.
Christopher Wagner of the EU delegation for the Pacific said illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is theft and tighter rules are essential.
Mr Wagner said much of the fish caught in Pacific waters is transferred from one ship to another and up to eighty percent of it is processed in Asian countries.
“What we are supporting through this programme is to develop new technologies and monitoring, for example drones, we are also working through the FFA (Forum Fisheries Association) with the countries to look more at trans-shipments. For example many of these days, you know that term money laundering, and there’s also something called fish laundering,” Christopher Wagner said.
Mr Wagner said some of the funding will go towards better regulation of illegal catches passing through Pacific ports, with more prosecutions and higher fines.
He said coastal fisheries management, marine science and biodiversity projects will also receive a boost from the funding which was announced at last week’s Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru.
Nauru – 05 September, 2018 – Today, the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and The University of the South Pacific (USP) signed a landmark agreement with the European Union to help promote sustainable management and sound ocean governance in the Pacific Region.
The Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership Programme addresses some of the most serious challenges faced by the region. Among these are the increasing depletion of coastal fisheries resources; the threats to marine biodiversity, including negative impacts of climate change and disasters; the uneven contribution of oceanic fisheries to national economic development; the need for improved education and training in the sector; and the need to mainstream a rights-based approach and to promote greater recognition of gender issues within the sector.
This 5-year programme is funded by the European Union (EUR 35 million) with additional targeted support from the government of Sweden (EUR 10 million). The programme provides direct assistance through regional organisations to support regional and national level activities in the Pacific.
The signing of this agreement marks the operational starting point of the implementation of the Programme by FFA, SPC, SPREP and USP. It follows the agreement at the Our Ocean Conference in Malta, signed in October 2017 by the Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.
Mr. Jean-Louis Ville, Head of Unit for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific at the European Commission Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development, reaffirmed the role of the European Union as a reliable partner of the Pacific, and said: “Oceans are essential, ensuring food, livelihoods, biodiversity and climate resilience. They are increasingly under threat through unsustainable management practices, accelerated by the negative effects of climate change. So if we do not act today, we compromise all of our tomorrows. Therefore, in our marine partnership with the Pacific, the EU will continue to support every effort to manage the Pacific Ocean more sustainably for local communities and for many generations to come.”
Ms. Åsa Hedén, Head of the Swedish Regional Development Cooperation for Asia and the Pacific. Ocean Governance is a high priority in Sweden´s global agenda to overcome transboundary challenges. “Marine resources are the backbone of the Pacific island countries economy and key to long- term sustainable development in the region. Sweden is pleased to see that this partnership is now ready to start. We believe it has potential to become unique and innovative with its holistic and multi sectorial approach and thereby contributing to social, economic and environmental development in the region. The programme will promote direct opportunities and positive changes for the Pacific island people, targeting women, men, youth and vulnerable groups.”
SPC Director General, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga highlighted how the program aligns with the notion of a ‘Blue Pacific” as identified by Pacific Islands Forum leaders. Dr Tukuitonga noted, “Protecting and strengthening our marine environment is an issue that cuts right to the heart of our region. The health of our oceans has a direct impact on the lives of every person who calls the Pacific their home, and remains an invaluable resource for the entire globe. This Partnership will provide further support to help ensure that, as stewards of the Pacific, our community is able to manage and preserve our ocean resources within a sustainable future”.
The PEUMP Program will focus on several key principles. First, the Programme will support Sound Ocean and coastal governance with a focus on biodiversity protection and sustainable use of fisheries and other marine resources. Second, PEUMP will mainstream human rights and gender equality using a rights-based approach to improve the capacity of communities, men, women and youth, to participate in decision making and to encourage governments to fulfil their obligations around fisheries and coastal management. Third, the Programme will mainstream climate change and environmental issues with due consideration to biodiversity. Fourth, PEUMP will aim to strengthen capacity at regional, national, sub-national and local level with a focus on education, training and research. This will help the next generation of Pacific decision makers and marine resource managers to deliver sustainable management across the sector with increased accountability. Additionally, the Programme will seek to promote equitable benefits for all the PACP countries whilst recognising the diversity of resources, needs and opportunities across the 15 PACP countries.
The PEUMP will facilitate sector policy dialogues, involving civil society organisations and non-state actors, including the private sector, at all levels, thus further contributing to ownership and sustainability beyond the lifetime of the programme.
People often think of Pacific Island Countries and Territories as a tropical paradise teeming with coral reefs and abundant and diverse fishes, but changing conditions may place this region and its marine ecosystems under increasing stress. A new publication in the Journal of Marine Policy explores how different climate change scenarios will affect marine biodiversity and fisheries in this region throughout the 21st century, presenting information on over 1,000 species of marine fishes and invertebrates.
Under a high emissions climate change scenario, the Pacific Islands region is projected to become warmer and oxygen dissolved in the ocean is projected to decrease, with these waters also becoming increasingly acidic. Together these conditions will cause declines in the productivity of plankton at the base of the oceanic food web.
While similar changes are expected to occur in many regions throughout the globe and may even occur more quickly in other areas, the Pacific Islands are particularly vulnerable to these climate change impacts. This region contains the western warm pool, which has historically been the warmest oceanic region on the planet. As a result, increased warming and changes in other physical and biogeochemical conditions will push this area into new territory where “novel” habitats will be created unlike any other ecosystems seen on Earth since geological times. The creation of these novel habitats will have substantial impacts on marine biodiversity and fisheries.
The study published in Marine Policy projects that these changes could result in local extinctions of marine species that exceed 50% of current-day biodiversity levels, with some regions experiencing local extinctions in excess of 80% of species. These extinctions will result from organisms migrating out of regions where oceanic climate has changed and seeking out new habitats more conducive to their survival. For organisms where migration is not an option, their abundance is likely to decline in the western tropical Pacific. These localized extinctions will impact commercially important fishes resulting in equally steep declines in the maximum levels of catch that fisheries can take in this region.
Loss of fisheries and marine biodiversity could be a particularly strong blow to Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Many Pacific Islanders are highly dependent on marine organisms for food, provision of economic opportunities, and cultural heritage. Also, Pacific Islands are often developing countries with fewer resources available for societal adaptation to climate change. Due to the large potential changes in fisheries and marine biodiversity, the high dependence of the region on marine resources, and a low capacity for adaption, these factors combine such that climate change may have a particularly large impact on this region.
However, there is a silver lining in that the ecosystems of these islands fared much better under a climate change scenario where greenhouse gas emissions were curbed close to the level that would be needed for achieving the Paris Climate Agreement. As a result, these changes in oceanic conditions are not inevitable but instead depend on the immediate actions of countries to maintain their commitment to limit greenhouse gas emissions as is being discussed this week in Bonn, Germany during the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The report in Marine Policy was produced by the Nippon Foundation-Nereus Program, an interdisciplinary research program encompassing 17 universities focused on advancing our understanding of climate change impacts on global ocean ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities. The authors of this report include Drs. Rebecca Asch from East Carolina University and William Cheung and Gabriel Reygondeau from the University of British Columbia.