Pacific Leaders to Call for United Action on Oceans
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 8, 2010 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Leaders of Pacific Island States along with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and a coalition of non-profit, intergovernmental and academic institutions have called for collaborated action on ocean threats across the Pacific on Wednesday September 8th in San Francisco, California (USA).
As part of the opening plenary to the California and the World Ocean Conference 2010 (CWO '10), the Californian Government representative was joined on stage by His Excellency President Anote Tong of Kiribati and Google Earth founder John Hanke. Both Governor Schwarzenegger and H.E. President Tong call on Pacific Rim and Island countries to join them in working to protect the health of the ocean - important to both their respective countries. While they are separated by thousands of miles, the threats to the health of the Pacific are remarkably similar in both countries. Habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing and climate change threaten the health of the Pacific Ocean and those that depend on it, from small island citizens to Californians. The leaders urge governments across the Pacific to act collaboratively.
CWO '10 is organized by the California Ocean Protection Council, the California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Environmental Protection Agency, and is held September 7-10, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, California.
The call to action is part of a broader movement entitled the Pacific Ocean 2020 Challenge, an intergovernmental initiative encouraging leaders to act cooperatively in response to the Pacific's major threats. Schwarzenegger and Tong, along with leadership from the Solomon Islands and Tonga are amongst the first governments to endorse the Challenge. According to Governor Schwarzenegger, the Challenge is "an extension of regional approaches that we are engaged in along the West Coast". In a letter to International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Director General Ms. Julia Marton-Lefevre, the Governor states, "I look forward to working with our other Pacific Ocean neighbors on this important initiative". H.E. President Tong states "There is obviously a need to consolidate all of the efforts in ocean governance in the Pacific and indeed in the world if we are to successfully manage and conserve these resources for present and future generations. The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have embarked on this through the Pacific Oceanscape Framework that was endorsed last month at their meeting in Vanuatu. The Pacific Ocean 2020 Challenge is an important link for this Framework to Pacific Rim countries."
The initiative was catalyzed by the Oceania office of IUCN and is guided on scientific principles provided in large part by a major synthesis of science dealing with Pacific Ocean threats, impacts and solutions produced last year by the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University. A Pacific Ocean Scientific Consensus Statement, now signed by over 400 scientists from across the Pacific, further supports the Synthesis. The World Future Council supports this initiative through its political global networks and the organisation of Government meetings across the Pacific.
Comprising half the world's ocean area, and one-third of the Earth's surface, the Pacific Ocean is the largest single geographic feature on our planet. Fifty-six countries and territories with a total population of 2.9 billion either border or are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific spans 165 million square kilometers (64 million square miles), almost 25% of which is in the Exclusive Economic Zones of Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Pacific Ocean ecosystems support more rare, endangered and threatened species than anywhere else on Earth, provides two out every three fish harvested on the planet, and supports a multi-billion dollar tourism industry.
Four major threats are placing the Pacific Ocean at serious risk: overfishing and overexploitation, habitat destruction, climate change and pollution. These threats are ubiquitous throughout the region, affecting developed and developing nations alike, from polar to tropical climes. Due to oceanographic features and the massive migratory scales of ocean wildlife, the threats are also transboundary in nature, requiring cooperation both among nations and onto international waters.
The conference events follow a two-day Pacific planning session hosted by the Europe-based World Future Council. The session brought together high-level officials from the governments of Kiribati and California, joined by representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Conservation International, IUCN, Okeanos, Stanford University, Center for Ocean Solutions, Mission Blue Foundation and the World Future Council. The governments and partners planned next steps for collaborative action under the Pacific Ocean 2020 Challenge.