PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has urged participants in the inaugural Solomon Islands Government Ocean Summit to be open about the problems the country faces in achieving the goal of protecting its ocean and marine lives.
The one-day summit organised by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology and MACBIO Project brought together all government Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and other relevant government officials to discuss and define the significance of the role of the ocean in Solomon Islands development.
The outcome will be translated into an integrated Ocean Resource Management Plan to be incorporated into the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s 20-Year National Development Plan.
Mr Sogavare said Solomon Islands is a nation rich in marine resources and one where the ocean with its plants and creatures are part of its culture and heritage.
“With such marine abundance and strong cultural connections to the sea with its plants and creatures, we must carefully plan our future to ensure that we sustain and protect our ocean or we can ignore the ocean in our development planning and fail to secure and improve upon the benefits we derive from it.”
The Prime Minister said whilst Solomon Islands must acknowledge that the effects of global warming and unsustainable commercial fishing are challenges beyond its control, there are others (challenges) within its ability to address.
“Yes we can control the damage we do to our marine and coastal habitats due to coastal development, pollution, logging and use of destructive fishing techniques such as bottom trawling and dynamiting,” he said.
Mr Sogavare said the Ocean Summit was organised to collate the input of all government ministries to formulate an integrated Ocean Resource Management Plan for ultimate incorporation into a long-term national development plan.
“Be open about the problems we face as a nation in conserving our ocean and its inhabitants and be frank in your discussions to chart the best way forward.
“At the end of this summit, let me hear of the actions you have collectively identified to build a sustainable blue economy for our very own benefit and that of our future generations,” he said.
The MACBIO Project is a Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Management project implemented in five pacific Island countries including Solomon Islands.
The project is jointly implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Oceania and supported by the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
– PMO Press Secretariat