The Pacific Oceanscape was conceived by His Excellency Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, in early 2009 and the concept was endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum leaders at their 40th Meeting in August 2009:
“Leaders welcomed the Pacific Oceanscape concept and its companion Pacific Ocean Arc initiative tabled by Kiribati aimed at increasing marine protected area investment, learning and networking. Leaders tasked the Secretariat, together with relevant CROP agencies and key partners, to develop a framework for the Pacific Oceanscape, drawing on the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy, as a priority area for attention under the Pacific Plan.”
The Forum’s Marine Sector Working Group (MSWG) developed the Pacific Oceanscape Framework in 2009/10 which was endorsed by the Leaders at their 41st meeting:
”Leaders reiterated the critical importance of ensuring the sustainable development, management and conservation of our ocean. Leaders endorsed the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape and acknowledged with thanks the efforts of the Marine Sector Working Group and partners in developing this framework. Leaders strongly encouraged continued Forum leadership and regional cooperation and tasked CROP agencies to implement the Framework in partnership with other relevant organisations.”
The Pacific Oceanscape Framework is seen as a catalyst for action for our Pacific Islands Regional Oceans Policy (PIROP), to protect, manage and sustain the cultural and natural integrity of the ocean for present and future generations and for the broader global community. The overall intent of the Pacific Oceanscape Framework is to foster stewardship at all levels “…to ensure in perpetuity the health and wellbeing of our oceans and ourselves”.
The Framwork looks to address six strategic priorities identified for immediate implementation, namely:
(i) establishing ‘jurisdictional rights and responsibilities’,
(ii) fostering ‘good ocean governance’,
(iii) supporting ‘sustainable development, management and conservation’,
(iv) promoting ‘listening, learning, liaising and leading’,
(v) sustaining action, and
(v) facilitating adaptation to a rapidly changing environment.
The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, has been appointed the Pacific region’s first Ocean Commissioner. This Ocean Commissioner’s role is to ‘…provide the necessary high level representation and commitment that is urgently required to ensure dedicated advocacy and attention to ocean priorities, decisions and processes at national, regional and international levels.’ The technical and scientific support to the Ocean Commissioner is being provided by relevant CROP agencies and is facilitated by the CROP Marine Sector Working Group (MSWG).