Island and Ocean Ecosystems
PM Fiji

By Maryann Lockington, a journalism student at USP

6 December 2013, Suva Fiji - Fiji's Prime Minister Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama called upon Pacific Islanders to take responsibility for their environment when making the closing statement at the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.

Prime Minister Bainimarama was the chief guest at the closing event of the conference held in Suva Fiji from 2 to 6 December.

During his statement he said it was the duty of Pacific Island people to contribute to the conservation effort.

"For too long, our people have taken their beautiful surroundings and abundant natural resources for granted," he said.

"Paradoxically, we use the vast ocean around us as both a food source and a refuse dump. We take its abundance of seafood and give back sewage and garbage. None of us would dump rubbish in our own back yards yet think nothing of dumping it in the ocean."

Over 750 delegates were registered for the conference which is held every 4 to 5 years. The gathering helps provide direction and guidance to a Pacific regional action strategy on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.

Also present among the delegates was Cook Island's Prime Minister Hon. Henry Puna, Palau's Minister for Natural Resources, Environment & Tourism Hon. Umiich Sengebau and Minister in Assistance to the President Hon. Tony de Brum.

Prime Minister Bainimarama said the outcomes of the conference should be enacted and Fiji was willing to be part of the action strategy.

"Together, we can build a grand coalition to achieve better outcomes than have been possible to date."

The conference came to an end on Friday after five days of intense presentations and discussions.

Maryann Lockington is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji. This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference. This activity is funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).