Prince Charles launches Solomon Islands’ Ocean Policy

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HONIARA, 28 November 2019 -– His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, has launched the Solomon Islands Ocean Policy, which aims to step up sustainable management and conservation of the Solomon Islands fisheries industry.

The Prince oversaw the launch event at the Lawson Tama Stadium on Monday, 25 November, during his recent visit to Honiara. The visit focused on climate change and ocean governance.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, attended by more than a thousand people, the Prince of Wales said the natural environment of the country is important for its prosperity and security.

His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, speaking at the official launching of the Solomon Islands Ocean Policy (document inserted) in Honiara on Monday, 25 November 2019. Photo: Ronald Toito’ona.

He said it is sad to see the environment of the country, just like many other countries in the world, threatened by climate change, global warming, pollution, unsustainable logging, and overfishing.

“If you keep your natural heritage, your children and your grandchildren will also benefit from them,” he said.

He added that something urgent needs to be done.

The Prince said that, for that reason, he was pleased to be part of the launching program to witness the important government new ocean policy.

“I hope the policy will secure the marine ecosystem that surrounds these islands and to bring wealth, health and wellbeing for the future generation,” he said.

Prior to the launch, His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, also addressed the national parliament of Solomon Islands.

At the parliament, the Prince of Wales praised Solomon Islands for establishing the marine protected areas initiatives to protect fish and food nutrients, and said it is vital for survival of the endangered oceans creatures.

“Marine protected areas are utterly essential mechanisms to increase fisheries catch,” Prince Charles said.

“If the world achieves target of protecting 40% of oceans by 2030, the global fishing catch will actually increase by 57%.

“It seems such an immense potential for the Solomon Islands for taking leading role by protecting [marine areas]. This will help to increase dramatically the productivity of fisheries and major boost to tourism sector,” Prince Charles told parliament.

He added that besides Solomon Islands’ human capital, the precious natural environment and biodiversity of its islands, on land and water, and below the water, represent immense reserves of natural capital.

“As you would appreciate far better than me, your islands are blessed with an astonishing biodiversity of global importance, with your coral reefs being the second most diverse in the world,” the Prince said.

“But such natural capital wealth which, if sustainably managed, should be the bedrock of your economic growth, is at the same time very fragile. Its very fragility is increased immeasurably and alarmingly by the great impact of global warming, climate change and natural capital intrusion.”

In a brief introduction of the Solomon Islands Ocean Policy at the launch event this week, the Director of the Government Communication Unit (GCU), George Herming, said the National Ocean Policy provides a framework that will guide the integrated governance over 1.9 million square kilometres of ocean.

“The policy carried the vision of the Government and people of Solomon Islands for a healthy, resilient, secure and productive ocean that supports sustainable use and development for the benefit of the people and children of Solomon Islands now into the future,” Mr Herming said.

“This is a policy path that we have chosen to join the Malaysia Ocean, recognising its values and opportunities, embraces many uses and to proactively address our ocean threats,” he added.

More significantly, Mr Herming said, through the policy Solomon Islands is joining the global community towards meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

He said the Cabinet under the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) and Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela endorsed the policy in November 2018, and Monday’s launch marks the beginning of the journey to roll it out. 

This is being supported by the current government of Manasseh Sogavare, the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA).

When speaking at the launch, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister said the National Ocean Policy provides the framework to safeguard the health and integrity of the ocean to benefit the current generation but, more importantly, would leave a legacy for future generations.

“The policy will also ensure we met our national, regional and international commitments,” Mr Sogavare said.

He added that Solomon Islands is a large ocean state with 98.2% covered by ocean, and only 1.8% covered by land.

“This is our reality and we are ocean people living in harmony with our ocean, our culture, our spirituality, our livelihood and our sustaining is interlinked to our ocean,” he said.

“To protect opportunities and pursue development opportunities from our ocean, we developed a robust and integrated ocean governance policy that entrenches a vision of a healthy, resilient, secure and productive ocean that supports sustainable use and development for the benefit of the people of Solomon Islands now and into the future.”

As part of His Royal Highness’s visit to Solomon Islands, he also took the time to tour the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) at the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) headquarters in Honiara.

At the FFA HQ, the Prince was welcomed by the Director-General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, and Forum Fisheries Committee Chair, Mr Eugene Pangelinan.

FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen and Forum Fisheries Committee Chair Mr Eugene Pangelinan farewell His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, after his tour to the FFA HQ. Photo: Ronald Toito’ona .

Though the visit was short, the Prince of Wales was briefed about FFA’s work in the area of sustainable fisheries management, and on regional efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and minimise the impacts of climate change.

 “We emphasised the importance of cooperation in the sustainable utilisation of our fisheries resources because of its critical importance to the economic, cultural and social fabric of our Pacific people, and consistent with the long track record and commitment of His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, to sustainable management of the world’s oceans,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

According to Mr Steve Masika of the FFA RFSC, the Prince was also told of how the work of the FFA is linked to the newly launched Solomon Islands Ocean Policy.

After the RFSC tour, HRH Prince Charles also met FFA staff, engaging with them on aspects of FFA’s work.

Staff members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) were fortunate to meet Prince Charles during his visit to the FFA headquarters in Honiara. Photos: Ronald Toito’ona.

“It was a great honour for our staff to meet the Prince of Wales and we were pleased to have an opportunity to present him with a gift as a token of our appreciation,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said in a statement.

Study: Climate change will redistribute tuna populations

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Photo: Inigo Onandia/AZTI

Republished from Undercurrent News, 18 April 2019

More skipjack and yellowfin tuna will move to the tropical waters, while albacore, Atlantic bluefin, bigeye and southern bluefin will shift into colder seas in the future, according to research led by AZTI, a Spanish research body. 

If a coastal country’s local fleet anticipates the changes in abundance and distribution of the target species, it may adapt its fishing gear or change its target species, said Haritz Arrizabalaga, who carried out the study with Maite Erauskin-Extramiana.

“Knowing in advance what will happen in the future enables adaptation strategies to the transformations to be drawn up. [A coastal country’s local fleet] may be able to continue fishing the same species, but investing in larger vessels, capable of going out further in search of these species,” said Arrizabalaga.

The researchers took into account the effect of the environmental conditions on the worldwide distribution of tuna species, such as albacore, Atlantic bluefin, southern bluefin, tropical bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin between 1958 and 2004. This enables the influence of climate change in the future to be assessed and specific predictions to be made, they claim. The study has been published Global Change Biology

“During the historical period analyzed, the habitat distribution limits of the tuna have moved towards the poles at a rate of 6.5 kilometers per decade in the northern hemisphere and 5.5km per decade in the southern one. Based on the influence of climate change, even strong changes in tuna distribution and abundance are expected in the future, particularly at the end of the century (2088 – 2099),” said Arrizabalaga.

More specifically, the study forecasts that temperate tuna species, such as albacore, Atlantic bluefin and southern bluefin, will move towards the poles. Bigeye tuna will reduce its presence in the tropics and will move to warmer areas. On the other hand, the analysis predicts that the main two canned tuna species — skipjack and yellowfin — will become more abundant in the tropical areas, as well as in most of the fishing areas of coastal countries, or in other words, in the maritime economic exclusive zones which stretches from their coastline to a distance of 200 nautical miles.

“Tuna predictions offers relatively good news for tuna fishing to continue as an important food source, due to the origin of the main tuna protein consumption in humans comes from skipjack and yellowfin tuna from the tropical area,” said Arrizabalaga.

The study has enabled analysis on how the worldwide distribution and abundance of the main tuna species will vary due to climate change and, in this way, quantify the future trends of the tuna populations. 

“Tuna species are resources of enormous economic importance and a key source of protein for much of the population. As a result of climate change, their habitat distribution is changing and, related to this, the opportunities of different countries to access this source of wealth. This study aims to explain what has happened in the past and predict what will happen in the future so that countries and fishing fleets can come up with adaptation strategies to the new circumstances,” said Erauskin-Extramiana.