Samoa is actively engaged in discussions for the protection of areas beyond its national jurisdiction for marine biodiversity.

This was highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, during the recent 11th Conference of the Pacific Community on Oceans and Sustainable Development in New Caledonia last week.

Mata’afa said Samoa is joining other countries in partnership with IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) to look at marine spatial planning to collect the necessary data and as a tool for management.

She said Pacific leaders are pleased to know that COP 25 (United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Chile will be designated the Blue COP.

“We are pushing to raise climate ambition in the achievement of our new goals that will among other issues, enhance coastal blue carbon mitigation including clean domestic marine transport; enhance the resilience of ocean ecosystems and ocean-based communities and economies; and support scientific observation and research on the ocean-climate nexus,” she said.

“Continue advocacy for Oceans to become an integral part of the continuing climate change agenda and the UNFCCC platform.”

Mata’afa said; “An integrated regional approach to multidisciplinary ocean-related scientific studies and partnerships with international and regional partners in ocean science will be critical in ensuring a sustainable future for the Blue Pacific.

“In this regard, Samoa supports the recommendations towards the development of a regional strategy for the collection of scientific and technical ocean data and information to translate the Blue Pacific narrative into regional, national and local action for sustainable management of the Pacific Ocean.

“We see this portfolio of issues as fitting for the SPC to manage from the collection of data to interpretation of datasets and for the CROP agencies to implement activities in this context.

“Coordination is essential in this regard therefore an integrated approach to ocean-focused activities, both at the agency level through the Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science, and at the CROP level through the Marine Sector Working Group, with the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner and other partnerships is the best option for us to take.”

Mata’afa also took the opportunity to speak on Samoa’s national oceans action, highlighting the country’s voluntary commitment at the U.N Ocean Conference that focused on the implementation of SDG14 on Ocean.

These included: “Development and implementation of the Samoa Ocean strategy; solid waste management efforts; approaches to address land-based pollution through river and coastal health ecosystem monitoring, plus policies and projects to manage plastics marine litter;

“We encouraged community involvement in fisheries and coastal infrastructure management plans that also assist to build resilience and adapt to impacts of climate change;

“We committed to ensuring improved scientific information and knowledge for more informed policy making on fisheries issues and prohibiting the use of destructive fishing methods in Samoa’s fishery waters.”

In support of healthy ocean ecosystems, she said, Samoa has restricted the importation of plastic bags since the introduction of the Plastic Bag Prohibition on Importation Regulations 2006.

“Styrofoam food containers and cups will be banned once environmentally friendly options have been identified and are in use.”

Mata’afa explained: “The consultations processes on the Samoa Ocean Strategy are well underway with the Strategy to be finalised by September 2019.

“The Samoa Ocean Strategy (SOS) 2020-2030 will guide and track Samoa’s goals for integrated planning and management of its ocean domain, including marine inland waters, territorial sea, EEZ and seabed for the coming decade. It will also serve as an integration tool to foster implementation of Samoa’s international and regional commitments related to the ocean.

“We are making progress in the determination and negotiation of our maritime boundaries with our neighbours Tonga, NZ/Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna/France, and the United States/American Samoa.”

Mata’afa called on the leaders of the Pacific to be committed in their role as guardians of the largest portion of the Pacific Ocean.

“We recognise that this natural endowment is our greatest asset that must be sustainably managed for the benefit of our present and future generations,” she said.

“The Blue Pacific recognises the geostrategic, economic, cultural and ecological importance of the world’s largest ocean continent as well as the importance of securing the wellbeing and potential of the Pacific Ocean.

“This calls for inspired leadership, and a long-term commitment to maintaining a strong and collective voice and action on issues vital to our Blue Pacific continent such as we have done for current ocean governance arrangements, establishing a ban on driftnet fishing, lobbying for a stand-alone SDG Goal 14 on Oceans, the 2017 UN oceans conference and reaching global consensus for the Paris Agreement,” he said.

PACNEWS from the Samoa Observer June 28, 2019

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