Monday, August 16, 2010

Pacific Oceanscape: a tremendous step for conservation in the Pacific

When governments and policymakers listen to the scientists and listen to the voices of the people, every once in a while they get it right and something of value is truly accomplished. That would be the case with the recent announcement by a consortium of Pacific nations with the formation of the Pacific Oceanscape - a proposal to form a cooperative stewardship involving an enormous area of the Pacific Ocean equal to that of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico combined.

A result of the Pacific Islands Leadership Forum and heavily supported by the conservation and scientific research efforts of Conservation International, the Pacific Oceanscape, according to a recent press release,
"aims to address all ocean issues from governance to climate change, as well as design policies and implement practices that will improve ocean health, increase resources and expertise, and encourage governments to factor ocean issues into decisions about economic and sustainable development. It represents perhaps the largest marine conservation management initiative in history, as measured by countries and area, and a new united Pacific voice on ocean conservation and management."

First introduced in 2009 by the president of Kiribati (read original proposal in PDF), the Pacific Oceanscape agreement includes the participation of nations from Australia and New Zealand to the Marshall and Solomon Islands, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and many other Pacific island nations.

Commented Dr. Greg Stone, Chief Ocean Scientist and Senior Vice President for Marine Conservation with Conservation International,
“It is, without doubt, the most ambitious, most innovative, and most well-grounded marine initiative I have seen in my 32 years as a marine biologist and conservationist. What we are seeing here is the dawning of a new era for marine management at such a massive, multi-national scale, and the kind of leadership that brings about real, positive change.”

With so many issues facing ocean ecosystems, particularly those fragile tropical environments that not only offer such beauty but are the backbone of survival for many island communities, this is certainly a major step in the right direction. To see this many nations in cooperation over a common goal and prepared to set policies and take steps to conserve precious marine resources, well, it certainly provides a welcome uplift and a measure of hope. The rest of the world needs to take notice.

Read press release about the Pacific Oceanscape.
Read the original proposal from Kiribati.

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