PACIFIC OCEAN COMMISSIONER’S STATEMENT
WORLD OCEANS DAY
7 June 2019
As the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, I am very pleased to join you and the rest of the blue planet in celebrating World Oceans Day today.
Our Pacific Leaders work together under the flagship of the Blue Pacific narrative. The Blue Pacific identity emphasises our collective stewardship of the Pacific Ocean to ensure peace, to protect the dignity and well being of our people.
The ocean is the foundation of our common identity as Pacific Islander; it is the common fabric that connects us and upon which our cultures, our traditions, our livelihoods and our well-being have been built.
This world oceans day gives time for us to reflect on what we can do together in order to secure the future of our ocean continent.
It is our Blue Pacific, Our Place, Our Future.
Gender and the Ocean
The theme for this World Oceans Day is “Gender and the Ocean”. As we continue to address the issues so vital to our ocean’s health and well being, we must also emphasise the well being of our people who are an inseparable part of our oceanic continent.
The actions and knowledge of women are essential to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life Under Water. Women are holders of knowledge and informal managers of our marine resources. Indeed, in our region, women make up 90 per cent of the informal employment sector which includes catching, collecting and selling of fish, crabs, shells and sea weed – for their livelihoods and well-being.
Formally, women account for less than 20% of fishery science and management staff in administrations across the Pacific islands. I encourage our young girls to be ambitious and improve this statistic going forward – explore and embrace the opportunities in STEM fields, that is, in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. A wonderful example that I return to time and again is that of Kiribati. Fisheries forms the key contributing sector to GDP in Kiribati and it is and has been, for a few years now, been led by an all-female management team.
Ensuring women’s voices and participation in oceans management and governance is vital if we are to secure the wellbeing and potential of our Blue Pacific continent and if we are to bridge the gap and ensure we leave no one behind.
Threats and deepening our collective claim to secure our Blue Pacific Continent
Later this year Forum Leaders will meet in Tuvalu under the theme ‘Securing our Future in the Pacific’. Despite the immense opportunities and prospects of our vast oceanic continent, we must also be vigilant and adaptive to the challenges that now confront us. In particular, climate change which remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well being of our people, our place and of the planet.
To guide our efforts we have a longstanding commitment to sustainable ocean management and conservation through a range of existing national, regional and global policies, where all sectors of society, have a role to play.
In my capacity as Pacific Ocean Commissioner, I am convening the next Pacific Ocean Alliance meeting in early October, to bring all stakeholders working in, on and for our ocean together. The Pacific Ocean Alliance provides an inclusive space to work collectively to discuss and identify solutions for how we could and how we should optimise and share the benefits from the sustainable management, use and conservation of our Blue Pacific continent and its surrounding ocean area.
I close by taking this opportunity to recognise World Ocean Day and commending that we think about the Ocean and what we can do for it – because the ocean is us – everyday.
Thank you very much