Leading experts in ocean governance and finance have met in Fiji to try and identify ways to maximise their resources in a sustainable manner.
The Pacific Ocean Finance Conference aimed to help Pacific island states plan, manage and finance their oceans.
Fleming Umiich Sengebau is Palau’s minister for natural resources, environment and tourism.
Mr Sengebau, addressed the conference in Sigatoka, and said the Pacific must look closely at every financial option available to help them better manage their resources.
“At the end of the day, it’s about helping our communities. And for many of these issues that we’re dealing with, going into communities – where are we going to get funding for this?”
He called for further exploration of practical solutions.
Other representaives recognised there was a need for more understanding of different financing mechanisms involved in ocean health governance initiatives.
Fiji delegate Apisalome Movono believed good finance and governance of the oceans would help the livelihoods of Pacific people.
“Most importantly, I feel it is the missing link to our conservation efforts and efforts to protect the oceans for future generations.”
Tuvalu delegate Fa’aui-Ekapale Telii agreed, saying her country depended heavily on licence fees for its national budget.
“And yet, there’s very little that’s been provided for effective management of ocean health and governance,” she said.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has said one of the challenges was the need to have a sustainable financial system or product.
Alissa Takesey is a delegate from the Federated States of Micronesia and said this rang true for her.
“A lot of members in my family are highly dependent on fisheries where the coastal oceanic environment contributes to their income,” she said.
Marshall Islands delegate Emma Kabua Tibon said more needed to be done.
“Ocean finance is important for marine-protected areas which need investment in order to ensure healthy and productive marine ecosystems.”
Judy Arumae from Forum Fisheries Agency said Pacific islanders had a deep connection to the ocean.
“Ocean financing enables appropriate investment into the ocean sectors to enhance our food security and protect our livelihoods.”
But with the growing threat of the climate crisis, Fleming Sengebau said the Pacific islands needed finance to help their communities provide alternative livelihoods.
“I see a great opportunity for us to share lessons learned in our own respective countries,” he said.
“But more importantly, how we can bring those resources to bear and really help our countries move forward.”