Samoa commits to revive voyaging heritage, as part of 12 commitments to oceans protection

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in New York

7 June 2017, UN Ocean Conference, New York - Samoa has registered 12 Voluntary Commitments under Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) here at the UN Oceans Conference in New York.

These include Samoa's Community-based Fisheries Management Programme which aims to ensure the long term sustainability of coastal fisheries resources for food security and livelihoods of coastal village communities through the empowerment of communities.

Announcing the Pacific Island nation's voluntary commitments, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said this community-based approach is a joint partnership between villages and the government to manage coastal fisheries resources by identification or marking of a "no take zone" within the fishery management area.

                        Samoa 1 copy copy
Samoa delegation at the UN Ocean Conference

In addition, PM Tuilaepa said his government has committed to the development and approval of fisheries by law to give recognition to village fisheries committees to carry out surveillance and enforcement of their fisheries management areas.

Another voluntary commitment involves the rehabilitation and protection of mangrove ecosystems for climate change adaptation, livelihoods and biodiversity.

He told word leaders attending the inaugural UN Oceans conference that mangroves in Samoa have been threatened by overharvesting, removal in favour of development, pollution, use as wastelands, natural phenomena and other activities.

In terms of solid waste management, Samoa's Waste Segregation, Storage and Disposal at Source initiative will serve as a model for other Pacific Island Countries to adapt and utilise in order to tackle their respective solid waste management issues. Japan has supported the commissioning of semi-aerobic engineered landfills designed with the 'Fukuoka Method.'

"Government in close coordination with the private sector and communities have conducted segregation and storage of generated recyclable waste materials, cans and plastic bottles at source for recycling and recovery purposes.

PM Tuilaepa said while such an initiative has limited coverage, government wants a more systematic approach to realise greater economic and environmental benefits from the waste programmes.

For waste to become a resource, it requires a sustainable financing mechanism such as public private partnerships to manage all the stages of the waste life cycle. We acknowledge the support of the Parley Air partnership recently endorsed, which addresses ocean and marine plastic pollution.

The Samoan PM said the fourth commitment is a unique voluntary commitment called the "Sa Moana Folauga" or "Ocean Voyage".

"This is a commitment to build capacity and awareness of environment and natural resource management and to revive our voyaging heritage in communities in Samoa.

The focus is to enhance awareness, to ensure communities become better ocean stewards through establishing protected areas and sustainable use of marine resources as well as switching to renewable energy alternatives to reduce carbon emissions.

"This is an inaugural journey promoting identified conservation and heritage messages for the protection of our country's fauna and flora. Like many other Pacific island countries, nature is a central feature in Samoan culture and heritage.

Of greater and special significance is the fact that the Captain of our traditional double-hull canoe is a woman, Captain Fealofani, said PM Tuilaepa.

"This is a strong endorsement of our Samoan women's capacity and sheer determination to push the boundaries for gender equality. Captain Fealofani is quoted in the media to have said "the ocean needs us women to stand up for her, to speak up for her, to cause our men and other women to take better care of our ocean, to look after the ocean better"

'"That is our challenge and should be our global and collective goal as well, said the Samoan PM – M.Komai/SPREP
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