Covering an ocean area of nearly 40 million square kilometers (15.4 million square miles) — over 7.9 percent of the Earth’s surface, and larger than the land size of Canada, the United States and Mexico, combined — the Pacific Oceanscape hosts the world’s largest remaining stocks of tuna, providing approximately one-third of the world’s catches of tuna and related species. We have depended on the ocean and its resources for millennia. But with declining fishery resources, rising sea levels, warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and pollution, the oceans are changing rapidly. These changes are degrading the livelihoods — and threatening the very survival — of Pacific Islanders. Addressing the extensive threats to the health of the Pacific Ocean and those who depend upon it most directly requires immediate, collective and concerted action at a large scale.
Predicated on strong national leadership and regional cooperation, the Pacific Oceanscape initiative focuses urgent and timely attention on critical issues. The Pacific Oceanscape will expand protected areas and protected area networks that take into consideration entire archipelagos, and will foster collective effort to minimize climate change impacts. The Oceanscape will facilitate the sharing of information and lessons valuable to the sustainable management of the region’s vast resources to secure Pacific Islanders’ livelihoods and well-being for future generations.
Momentum is High
Since endorsing the Pacific Oceanscape Framework in August 2010, 15 island nation governments, all regional intergovernmental agencies, and the conservation community have been working in cooperation to implement the Pacific Oceanscape initiative, which was first introduced in 2009 by President Anote Tong of Kiribati.
The Pacific Islands Forum honored Conservation International by asking CI to participate in the Marine Sector Working Group — made up of the regional agencies with governmental representation from member countries and tasked with Pacific Oceanscape development and implementation — and CI has acted as the lead NGO advisor in this forum. CI is uniquely positioned to work closely with governments, businesses and civil society organizations throughout the region to build capacity and catalyze action at the Pacific Oceanscape scale.
The Pacific Oceanscape Vision
The Pacific Oceanscape is a groundbreaking initiative that envisions a secure future for Pacific Island states based on ocean conservation and management, strong leadership and regional cooperation. Our collective objectives are:
- Integrated Ocean Management
- Adaptation to Environmental and Climate Change
- Liaising, Listening, Learning and Leading
A Window of Opportunity
Immediate investment is required to fulfill the promise of the Pacific Oceanscape. The Pacific Islands Leaders Forum mandated Conservation International to participate in the Marine Sector Working Group – made up of the regional agencies with governmental representation from member countries and tasked with Oceanscape development and implementation – and CI has acted as the lead NGO adviser in this forum. Additionally, CI has particularly strong relationships with President Anote Tong of the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced kirr-i-bas), home to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, the planet’s largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage site and leader of the Pacific Oceanscape charge. As such, CI is uniquely positioned to work closely with governments, businesses and civil society organizations throughout the region to build capacity and catalyze action on the Pacific Oceanscape. Now, while political will and momentum are exceptionally high, is the time to act.