Draft of 23 June 2000
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The South Pacific11
The many thousands of islands of the South Pacific are surrounded by a rich complex of coastal ecosystems, including mangroves, seagrass beds and estuarine lagoons. The western Pacific has the most extensive coral reef system in the world. In fact, about 40 percent of the world's mapped reefs are found in the Pacific region, many of them located around remote atolls and within the Great Barrier Reef tract. The Pacific region is one of the world's centers of marine biological diversity, with up to 3,000 species found on a single reef.
Recognition of the significance and value of biological diversity is growing within the region. A number of Pacific countries such as Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are undertaking biodiversity strategy and action plans to support their existing protected areas. In fact, an economic valuation of ecosystems was recently carried out in Fiji under its present Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan project. The value of Fiji's ecosystem services is estimated to about FJD1 billion per year. Tourism generates about $200 million annually. Such estimates emphasize the need to look after the ecosystems not only for the resources but also for the services they provide to people. This year, Fiji has experienced extensive coral reef bleaching, due to hot spots of elevated sea surface temperatures ranging from the Solomon Islands to Easter Island. From 30 to 90 percent of corals have experienced bleaching from the surface to 30 meters in depth.
The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) was set up as an intergovernmental organization in 1986 through the UNEP Regional Seas Programme to coordinate and facilitate environmentally sustainable development in the Pacific region. SPREP's headquarters are located in Apia, Samoa (http://www.sprep.org.ws/).
SPREP's programmes are guided by the Action Plan for Managing the Environment of the South Pacific (SPREP, 1996) and the Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region. There are twenty-six countries and territories that are responsible, through SPREP, for the development and implementation of the Action Plan, consisting of all twenty-two Pacific island countries and territories, and four developed countries with direct interests in the region: Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States of America. Based on the ICRI Regional Workshop in Fiji in December, 1996 the main recommendation was the need for capacity building.
In recognition of the Pacific Way of dealing with the threats to biodiversity (i.e. through consensus and co-operation), a number of conservation areas, including MPAs, have been established in Pacific island countries by local communities with the help of regional and national organizations over the past four years. The benefits of Integrated Coastal Management have also been promoted in the region and some countries have been trained in ICM methods and practices. A small number of coastal advisory groups, set up through the CIDA Canada South Pacific Ocean Development Programme (CSPODP) Phase II initiative, are now functioning and regularly submitting advice on coastal issues to their governments.
Unfortunately, in many cases MPAs and ICM projects - although often supported by local non government agencies or the national governments of Pacific island countries - have limited and variable funding. Under these circumstances, seed money can help mobilize resources and further enable critical interventions needed to ensure their effectiveness.
Therefore, ICRAN's role within this region
can focus largely on activities in capacity building under the following
Though the selection of demonstration sites will be based on the initial review of ICM/MPA sites, and nominated through a regional workshop with representation of several players in the coral reefs, it is likely that they will include the areas listed in the table below.
- A well-tested framework for four active, networked regional demonstration MPA sites and one ICM site in the Pacific region
- Substantive learning products and broadened access to best practice guidelines for coral reef management, particularly among coastal dwellers and stakeholders within and between Pacific Coastal States and the international community
- A nucleus of well-trained coral reef environmental management specialists within the Pacific region.
11 Participating Countries: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vanuatu and Samoa