President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. noted key points during signing the “Beyond Oceans Declaration” at Marrakech during the COP22 emphasizing Palau’s commitment to protecting the oceans.
“2016 has indeed been a momentous year with the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement, and the decision to convene the UN Conference on Oceans and Seas, co-chaired by Fiji and Sweden, both leaders on ocean conservation. We must take this political momentum and good will and transform it into action.
Many of the most damaging impacts of climate change for the Pacific are felt first in our oceans and coastal environment.
For Palau, as for all island and coastal countries, the Ocean is life. Our long-term prosperity depends on the actions we take today to protect our marine ecosystems.
We all know that what is good for the oceans is good for the climate and fundamental for the food security and livelihoods of islands. So, like many islands, we are charting our own unique path to sustainable development.
With the Palau National Marine Sanctuary – a marine reserve the size of France –Palau, like the Seychelles, Hawaii, New Caladonia and other islands, has taken a major step toward healthy oceans and reef systems that are more resilient to climate change.
Marine protected areas are critical to allow marine biodiversity to recover and fish stocks to rebound and replenish neighboring waters.
Marine reserves are also critical to increasing resiliency – locally and globally – to climate change. Oceans are the Earth’s biggest carbon and heat sink. Protected areas help to restore ocean health and increase biomass, to enable the ocean to continue to function as an effective carbon sink and moderate the effect of climate change.
Palau is proud to count on the partnerships of the Government of Monaco, Italy, Japan, Republic of China- Taiwan, Australia and many others that help us work towards effectively protecting our marine sanctuary.
We must also thank the Government of Monaco is for its support of the Pacific Islands Ocean Acidification Partnership, which will advance research and practical adaptation measures — such as strengthening protection of seagrass and mangrove habitats – to make coastal ecosystems more resilient to ocean acidification.
We are taking action to protect and sustainably manage our oceans in the Pacific, but we need the partnership of all nations.
We need more nations to join us and establish large marine protected areas.
And we need more countries to step up and ratify the Port State Measures Act to help us enforce our marine protected area, keep illegal fish out of the market, and work toward a sustainable fishing future for all our countries.
Palau looks forward to working with all of you to protect our oceans for generations to come.” [/restrict]