The Pacific Elders’ Voice said that it’s hopeful that the Our Oceans Conference in Palau on the 13-14 April will provide a critical opportunity for solutions to several challenges that can contribute to the decline of ocean health, especially in the region.
The Pacific Elders Voice, which comprises of former leaders of the island states and territories, that includes former President Tommy Remengesau, expressed concern “ about the unprecedented threat that is facing the Pacific Ocean,” and urged leaders to do more in order to address those threats.
“We sincerely hope that upcoming Ocean conferences will deliver meaningful outcomes that would ensure that the Pacific Ocean, as well as those communities that rely on it for their existence, will have a future that they can pass on to the next generations,” the statement said.
The elders voice also congratulated Palau for hosting this conference and making implementation the commitments from previous meetings, as well as focusing on significant new responsibilities around six action areas, the core thrust of the conference.
The former; leaders said they are deeply concerned about the recent findings of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, which noted that small islands’ tropical corals are at high risk from climate change.
The report, they said also highlighted the impacts that climate change will have on fish stocks in the Pacific Islands region.
“We believe that much more needs to be done now in order to address the impacts of climate change on Pacific Island communities. Major greenhouse gas emitting countries must accept higher reduction targets in order to avoid the worst impacts, ‘ the statement noted.
“We are very concerned about the growing amount of plastic pollution from discarded fishing gear, known as “ghost gear” in Pacific waters. Discarded fishing gear is known to have a profound impact on the marine life of our Ocean. Greater efforts are required to monitor the use of fishing gear when fishing boats return to port.”
The Pacific elders’ choice said that over-fishing and irregular, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Pacific region is also a concern.
“Regional fisheries agreements must be strengthened, and distant water fishing nations must take appropriate steps to regulate their fishing fleets. The Pacific Ocean does not have a limitless supply of fish and marine resources.”
Pacific Elders reiterated their concern over proposals for deep seabed mining in the Pacific.