We Need to Slow down and Reconnect with Our Ocean for the Future of the Planet

By Stuart Minchin
Jun 8 2020 (IPS)

COVID19 has brought the world to a halt. The devastating impact
of the global pandemic on people’s lives and the world’s
economy is a jarring and historic turning point for all of us but
it is also an opportunity to re-think many of our
practices.

As we mark World Oceans Day, the current global slowdown may be
the reset our Ocean needs and the Pacific region is asking the
world to reflect on our past to inform innovation for our
future.

COVID has disrupted the global transport sector massively, and
the increasing reliance on global shipping as flights are grounded
presents both challenges and opportunities for the safety and
livelihoods of the Pacific region.

More than 16,000 Pacific people work in the Maritime sector,
many of whom remain stranded in foreign countries or on vessels as
a result of COVID19. Across the Pacific, local restrictions have
severely curtailed access to supplies like fuel for local fishing
boats, bringing to the fore the issue of food security and the need
for longer term, sustainable solutions.

As we mark World Oceans Day this year, we should challenge
ourselves to find the opportunities inherent in this crisis to
improve our ocean management and stewardship. This can only be
accomplished by shifting the status quo and the current global
slowdown may be just the reset our Ocean needs.

Our Blue Pacific region is 98 per cent ocean and Pacific
Islanders are custodians of 20 per cent of the world’s exclusive
economic zones with the healthiest tuna stocks globally. This is
not by coincidence, as thousands of years of wise and careful
stewardship has contributed to the Pacific’s current status as
one of the healthiest regions of our global ocean. The world has
much to learn from the traditional knowledge developed over time in
the Pacific.

Reef fish are a critical protein for many Pacific communities
and populations. Fish such as parrotfish, snappers and emperors
shown here for sale in Suva markets in Fiji.

As we grapple with the slow degradation of our oceans globally,
and recognise the critical importance the ocean plays in driving
global weather patterns, addressing climate change and supplying
food and protein to the world’s population, we should reflect on
how combining traditional knowledge and science can lead us to find
effective solutions.

Now more than ever, we need to harness the opportunities within
our ocean, not only for economic benefit, but for the sustainable
future of our Blue Continent.

Innovation for Sustainable & Safe Maritime
Transport

The majority of islands across the Pacific are remote,
accessible only by ships or boats. As I write, 75 per cent of all
the bulk fuel imported across the Pacific is used for either road
or maritime transport. Finding effective ways to transition from
the reliance on fossil fuels to cleaner and more effective
technology is critical for the development of the region’s blue
economy. There are innovative approaches, both in terms of
technologies and using aspects of traditional practices, which are
already being implemented by countries and partners working towards
the protection of our ocean.

In Vanuatu for example, a cargo ferry was fitted with a solar
marine system last year (2019). The instalment of this system is
now projected to save the ship operator AU$62,000 per year in fuel
costs, and results in a 32 per cent reduction in emissions at
anchorage. The year before, the Solomon Islands transitioned
lighting systems through a ‘Green Ports’ initiative saving the
Solomon Islands Ports Authority AU$180,000 annually with a
160-tonne reduction in emissions and a 13% reduction on overall
energy consumption. This example increased the safety of ships
docking at night, led to the reduction of operational costs and
resulted in increased productivity with a significant reduction in
carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuel.

Camakau or outrigger traditional canoe in Moturiki thanks to a
partnership with the Uto Ni Yalo Trust.

In Fiji, traditional boatbuilding is making a resurgence as some
communities are discovering the benefits of wind-powered canoes
over outboard engines for inter-island transport over short
distances. Due to COVID19 the communities of Moturiki relied on
wind-powered transport to provide food and to access the local
health centre as they were unable to access fuel supplies during
the lockdown period.

The agreement by the governments of Fiji, the Marshall Islands,
Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu to be part of the
Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership should be commended. They are
setting themselves a target of a 40 per cent reduction in emissions
by 2030, and full decarbonisation by 2050.

At SPC, our Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science (PCCOS)
is one arm of the broader effort driving evidence and science-based
understanding of our ocean. A better understanding informs targeted
and effective decision-making around our oceans and all that lies
within it. It is an opportunity to ensure that the action we take
contributes directly to the low carbon transition that is so vital
for the health of our ocean, our climate and a new, sustainable
relationship between humankind and the natural world.

This Oceans Day is a time for us to reflect on the mix of
science, innovation and traditional practices we need for
stewardship of the Ocean we want. The Pacific region is not just
made up of small islands, rather we are large ocean states and we
have much to contribute to the global efforts for sustainable
management of our Oceans.

The post
We Need to Slow down and Reconnect with Our Ocean for the Future of
the Planet
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Stuart Minchin, is Director-General Pacific Community (SPC)

The post
We Need to Slow down and Reconnect with Our Ocean for the Future of
the Planet
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
We Need to Slow down and Reconnect with Our Ocean for the
Future of the Planet