Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Pacific Marine Reserve Proposal Welcomed


Suva, Fiji Islands, May 23, 2007. The Kadavu (1) Provincial Council today welcomed a presentation from Greenpeace on the benefits of turning the Great Astrolabe Reef into a marine reserve.

Kadavu Provincial Council Chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo said the idea of creating a new marine reserve was a blessing and would enhance the protection of marine resources in the interest of the people of Kadavu. "For the people of Kadavu and most Pacific Islanders, the oceans and our resources are mainly what we have and own, for them to remain healthy we must all move towards marine reserves," he said. Ratu Josateki said marine reserves could also be a major attraction for ecotourists.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans campaigner Josua Turaganivalu JNR said it was an honour to be given an opportunity to present to the chiefs of Kadavu, the council and its people. "Many Pacific marine resources, including tuna, are on the verge of extinction and yet only one per cent of the ocean is protected," he said.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans Team Leader Nilesh Goundar said marine reserves have shown long lasting and often rapid increases in marine populations, their diversity and production. "Conservation mechanisms are not new to us Pacific Islanders. Despite marine reserves being closed to fishing, a network of such parks can actually benefit fisheries in a number of ways," he said.

Mr Goundar said they allow exploited stocks and damaged habitats to recover within the zones and increasingly there is evidence that they improve population sizes in adjacent fishing grounds. "But it is not just about the fish. In line with the ecosystem approach, marine reserves can and should be designed to have multiple uses. They should be established to benefit endangered and rare species or habitats, critical feeding grounds, nursery areas and migration routes," he said.

To reverse the current decline in the health of our oceans, Greenpeace is calling for 40% of the oceans to be protected by marine reserves.

Mr Turaganivalu said this was a reasonable target and necessary for maintaining healthy fisheries in the Pacific. Mr Turaganivalu said it is estimated that such a network could cost $12 billion a year - and finance would have to be provided by the international community. He said this was no more than what is spent on perfume in the U.S and E.U each year.

(1) Kadavu is one of Fiji's fourteen provinces, forms part of the Eastern Division and is home to the Great Astrolabe Reef which is the world's third largest living organism.
Suva, Fiji's capital, lies 88 kilometers to the north of Kadavu.