The Marshall Islands will be the focus of a three-day National Oceans Summit in April to develop this western Pacific’s first policy governing sustainable use of its marine resources and expansive exclusive economic zone.
The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) is hosting the event, which is aiming to involve everyone from leaders to students in talks, exhibitions and activities related to developing a sustainable oceans policy for the nation.
“We have bits and pieces (of a policy), but we need a holistic national policy on oceans,” said MIMRA Director Glen Joseph. “This is a ‘bottom up’ approach through our ‘Reimanlok’ (looking to the future) process with community consultations. We want an oceans policy that reflects how we do it and who we are as global citizens.”
While the Marshall Islands has been gaining valuable ideas and information from neighbouring island countries about policies and action plans being implemented in the region, Joseph made the point: “One size doesn’t fit all.”
“We want to empower ownership and responsibility for our oceans,” he added.
The bigger picture for the Oceans Summit, set for April 3-5 in Majuro, is to help establish the policy to “frame where we are going within the regional and international framework.”
The Marshalls’ capital Majuro has developed into the world’s busiest tuna transshipment port, and management of the purse seine tuna industry is expected to net the Marshall Islands US$25 million this year in revenue, a more than five-fold increase since 2010. But local fisheries development remains in its infancy, as MIMRA works with remote outer island communities to develop conservation management plans.
Joseph said there are plenty of international resources available to support sustainable management and development of marine resources. “We do need international resources, but we have to have our house in order first to engage effectively,” he said. “The Summit will take a crack at developing our national policy for sustaining our future.”
Joseph warned that action is needed to take care of the Marshall Islands’ marine resources. “It won’t get better (by themselves),” he said. “If there is no plan to protect our oceans, we are risking our future.”.
SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS