11 Nations Sign Pacific Whale Declaration At Tonga Conference

Declaration focuses on stronger conservation in Pacific Region

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, April 6, 2017) – The Pacific Whale Declaration was endorsed and signed today by 11 Pacific countries at the Whales in a Changing Ocean conference, ending on a high note in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

The declaration focuses on stronger whale conservation in the Pacific region with Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Tonga signing on today.

The United States and the Solomon Islands, whose representatives attended the three-day conference, did not commit right away.

However, they still have a chance to sign with the declaration remaining open for signing until 31 December 2017.

The declaration commits to an action plan to conserve whales and dolphins, as well as recognising the importance of working in collaboration with governments and key stakeholders such as academics and scientists as well as IGOs, NGOs, the private sector, civil society and local communities.

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Director General Kosi Latu said that there is a need for stakeholders to work together because science on marine life and climate change is needed “to inform management decisions and policy making”.

The declaration also highlights significant marine pollution in the form of lost and abandoned fishing gear as one of the most harmful forms of marine debris for whales, and action needs to be accelerated to reduce it.

All representatives hailed the conference, the first of its kind, as a successful, informative and educational three days and thanked the Tongan Government for being generous hosts.

Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said she and all representatives at the conference “acknowledge and applaud Tonga’s leadership in the region.”

The full text of the Pacific Whale Declaration can be accessed on the SPREP website.

The joint declaration will be taken to the high-level United Nations (UN) Ocean conference in New York in June supporting the implementation of the UNs Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Today's achievements also included SPREP stepping up its role in marine conservation in the Pacific region by signing two memorandums of understanding (MOU).

The MOUs were signed with the South Pacific Whales Research Consortium, an affiliation of scientists for whale conservation in the Pacific region, and Blue Planet Marine, set up in Australia specifically for whales and turtles conservation.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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