Call to tackle climate change to save our fisheries

SUVA (FAO) – There needs to be quick and dramatic actions to address climate change to safeguard Pacific fisheries.

Speaking at the opening of the Pacific Fisheries and Green Climate Fund workshop in Nadi today , Fiji Fisheries Minister Semi Koroilavesau said the impacts of climate change would continue to be felt in our communities, thus the need for decisions to tackle the problem while considering the local context and people’s needs

He commended the FAO for its initiative to bring fisheries into the climate finance agenda for the first time and said he hoped there would be many more.

The two-day workshop at the Tanoa International Hotel aims to bridge the knowledge gap on Green Climate Fund (GCF) processes for fisheries officials in the Pacific, enhance awareness of the vulnerability of the fisheries and aquaculture sector to climate change impacts, as well as help countries identify opportunities for technical support as well as avenues for financial support in order to respond to the impacts of climate change in fisheries and aquaculture in the region.

“This is something that the region needs. For too long, the fisheries sector has sat in the periphery of dialogues and projects developed under various climate change mechanisms,” he said.

“The reality is that it should be at the heart, given that throughout the region our very lives depend on fisheries and it resources. After all, we, the people of the Pacific, are large ocean states and the role of fisheries in our lives is unquestionable.”

Koroilavesau cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that the world is headed for painful problems sooner than expected as emissions keep rising.

He said just as it is felt in every continent, climate change would continue to affect communities in the region.

“This prompts for quick, dramatic actions from governments, private sector, line agencies and our communities.”

Koroilavesau it was more important after the FAO published its report- titled The Global Impacts of Climate Change on Fisheries and Aquaculture –  in July.

“This report highlights the vulnerability of millions of people worldwide who depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods and food security and this includes the Pacific,” he said.

“Climate change threatens fisheries and their role in social and economic development in the region.

“Warmer oceans and ocean acidification are projected to have a range of substantial direct and indirect effects on fisheries and ecosystems. This fact is something that we all need to keep in mind as these marine ecosystems have sustained and protected our people and our identity for centuries.”

Quoting Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Koroilavesau said: “As Pacific Islanders, we are fighting for our very survival. For all we hold dear. For all that God has given us and has been entrusted to us by our forebears to care for and pass on to generations to come. And for some of our number, their very existence as sovereign nations with land and costlines hangs in the balance.”

He urged stakeholders to persevere and be persistent in their quest to seek tangible outcomes.

“Use the pool of experts that are amongst you to identify ideas and concepts that will lead to concrete programme or programme development under the Green Climate Fund.

“To the pool of experts, be reminded that the Pacific is not a one size fits all. Use this opportunity to grasp insight knowledge from fisheries officials on the challenges that exist within national administrations.

Koroilavesau said by identifying current changes, project and programmes funded under the Green Climate Fund would be successful.

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