SPREP boss calls for collective action against polluting ocean


Island Sun Newspaper, Pacific Islands

Pacific Islands’ nations must focus on action and implementation to stop polluting the ocean said Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) Mr Kosi Latu.

He said data collected by members of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) and fisheries observers inside fishing vessels in the region indicated there are more plastics in (Pacific) ocean.

“This is a big problem in the Pacific,” Mr Latu told CROP members attending the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday (Saturday Solomon Islands time).

He noted that most Pacific Islands nations would have reduced polluting the ocean if they had implemented the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

MARPOL is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.

The MARPOL Convention was adopted on 2 November 1973 at International Maritime Organization (IMO) which is the United Nations’ specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.

“So we need all SPREP members to focus on action and implementation as ocean is our shared heritage,” Mr Latu said.

He added all Pacific Islands nations are good at ratifying international conventions but fail to implement their commitments.

The SPREP boss said commitments to stop pollution of the ocean are not new, but the work must continue to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 14 which is to ‘conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.’

Mr Latu said forging partnerships and change of people’s behaviour could make some difference in the fight against ocean pollution.

He cited eco-tourism like whale watching in Tonga, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Solomon Islands and New Caledonia as good examples toward ocean conservation that could assist in the fight against ocean pollution.

“These are excellent measures for conservation of our oceans.”

However Mr Latu said more actions, implementation of global commitment at the regional level, effective partnership in sharing success stories and innovative ideas as vital to stop ocean pollution.

“So we should be moving together so that we would go further,” he added.

Ocean conservation was discussed by Pacific delegates including Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Mr Manasseh Sogavare at the opening of the 10-day IUCN Congress.

Various forums are being hosted at the Hawaii Convention Centre from 2nd – 5th September with the IUCN Members Assembly happening from 6th -10th September.

Delegates from Pacific regional organisations such as SPREP, SPC and others are attending the IUCN Congress.

SPREP is a regional organisation of 26 members countries based in Apia which has been charged by governments and administrations of the Pacific region with the protection and sustainable development of the region’s environment.