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PC: Manta rays Kadavu Island, Fiji @ Luke Gordon

Introduction to the marine species programme and action plans
Review of the programme

Introduction to the Marine Species Programme and Action Plans

The Pacific Islands Regional Marine Species Programme (Marine Species Programme) is a regional strategy for the cooperative conservation and management of dugongs, marine turtles, whales and dolphins, sharks and rays, and seabirds. The programme is designed to support SPREP Pacific island countries and territories, excluding metropolitan Members. The programme, which is implemented through Action Plans, supports Pacific peoples to take a primary role in achieving the following vision:

A healthy Pacific Ocean with thriving populations of whales, dolphins, marine turtles, dugongs, sharks and rays, and seabirds and the associated ecosystems on which they depend and contribute, which assures the aspirations of Pacific island peoples and protects their natural and cultural heritage.

The conservation and management of threatened and migratory species, particularly dugongs, whales, dolphins, marine turtles, sharks and rays and seabirds has long been a key feature of SPREP’s work on biodiversity conservation. Since 2003, SPREP and its partners have underlined, developed, reviewed and implemented three consolidated regional Marine Species Action Plans – an initiative designed, endorsed and implemented by the SPREP member countries and territories. In 2009, the regional Plan of Action for Sharks was developed and launched jointly by the Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC) , the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and SPREP, this was integrated into the Marine Species Programme in 2021, along with a new action plan for seabirds.

Pacific island peoples are stewards of their marine environment and depend on marine resources for their way of life. The 2022–2026 Marine Species Programme is intended to support them by:

  • increasing knowledge, awareness, and understanding of marine species and their habitats, and their ecological, cultural, and economic values, including through sharing best practice
  • appropriately incorporating and recognising cultural knowledge, traditional use, and conservation practices as the starting point for public awareness
  • building capacity and securing human resources to implement the action plans
  • securing sustainable financing to support implementing the action plans
  • identifying and addressing emerging threats and avoiding, reducing, or mitigating current threats
  • improving the condition of marine species and their habitats through improved management and protection
  • promoting appropriate customary management practices and traditional stewardship
  • ensuring that marine species populations recover and continue to fulfil their ecological roles
  • promoting the socio-economic benefits of non-consumptive use through responsible tourism
  • enhancing cooperation and coordinated action at national, sub-regional, regional, and international levels
  • fostering opportunities for ecosystem-based multi-species management approaches

The action plans and their implementation are the collective responsibility of SPREP Member States, the SPREP Secretariat, partner non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations (NGOs and IGOs) and private sector organisations.

SPREP will continue to play an important role in facilitating the exchange of information, coordinating efforts, building capacity, securing resources, and regularly monitoring and reporting on implementing the action plans.

Download the Regional Marine Species Programme 2022-2026.


Review of the Programme

Review of the 2013-2017 programme began in 2017 which introduced the supplementary action plan for sharks and rays. The review continued in 2020 with a concerted effort to consult with SPREP members to report on implementation of the three original action plans.

Watch a video about the Regional Marine Species Programme and the 2020/2021 review process below:

Feedback from the consultation, implementation review and metropolitan state advice were used to draft a new programme for the 2022-2026 period.

A series of online workshops were held during July-August 2021 to discuss and review the draft action plans.

The workshops were followed by the 4th Meeting of the Signatories to the Pacific Islands Cetacean MOU

The final Pacific Island Regional Marine Species Programme 2022-2026 was launched by Stuart Chape, Director Island and Ocean Ecosystems, on 15 June in celebration of the 29th Anniversary of the establishment of SPREP.

View recording of the launch below:


Individual action plans were endorsed by Dr Steph Borrelle (seabirds), Michael Grant (sharks and rays), Dr Christina Shaw (dugong), Mike Donoghue (whales and dolphins), and Anissa Lawrence (marine turtles).

1. Seabirds Action Plan / Dr Stephanie Borrelle
2. Dugongs in the Pacific / Dr Christina Shaw


Contact: Ms. Karen Baird (Threatened and Migratory Species Adviser); or

Contact: Mr. Unity Roebeck (Turtle Database and Conservation Officer)