SPREP and Birdlife MOU at 31st SPREP Meeting
Island and Ocean Ecosystems

06 September 2023, Apia Samoa - The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Birdlife International (BLI) continue to strengthen cooperation through a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), committing the organisations to continue the work to protect the region's birds and biologically important sites, marine and terrestrial.
The signing of the MOU between SPREP’s Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra and Birdlife International Director Pacific, Ms Margaret West, took place during the 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials at Taumeasina Island Resort in Samoa, on Tuesday. 
The collaboration was further spotlighted during a side event titled “Port-based outreach: Saving Endangered Species from Bycatch,” on the margins of the 31st SPREP Meeting.
SPREP is the regional organisation established by the Governments and Administrations of the Pacific charged with protecting and managing the environment and natural resources of the Pacific. Its mandate is to promote cooperation in the Pacific region and provide assistance in order to protect and improve its environment and to ensure sustainable development for present and future generations.
Mr Nawadra said SPREP is delighted to continue to work with BirdLife International to protect the Pacific region’s birds and biologically important sites through the restoration of islands including invasive species management, species recovery programmes, by-catch mitigation and building the capacity of communities, governments and national stakeholders to sustain Pacific islands biodiversity and way of life.  
BirdLife International is a global partnership of 120 national, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that cooperate to conserve wild birds, their habitats and global biodiversity. The Partnership is the leading global network for the conservation of birds and other biodiversity and is also, the world's leading scientific authority on birds. BirdLife aims to achieve biodiversity conservation through a network of national and territorial non-governmental Partner organisations.
Birdlife International Director Pacific, Ms West, said the MOU represents how Birdlife International and SPREP have worked collaboratively over the years to address the negative impact on Pacific ecosystems, resilience and biodiversity. 
Part of this work includes a partnership with SPREP, funded through the Pacific European Union Marine Programme (PEUMP), Bycatch and Integrated Ecosystem Management (BIEM) initiative, to undertake port-based outreach programme in Suva with surface long line vessels fishing for tuna. 

The SPREP and Birdlife side event at the 31st SPREP Meeting
The work was further spotlighted during a side event on the margins of the 31st SPREP Meeting of officials on Tuesday evening, where Dr. Stephanie Borrelle, BirdLife Pacific Marine Adviser, highlighted how fisheries present a high risk to Species of Special Interest including seabirds, sharks and rays, turtles and whales and dolphins of being accidentally caught in baited fishing hooks. 
The Port Based outreach programme provides practical advice from a BirdLife expert on mitigation equipment and use working alongside fishers to help them use the equipment correctly for maximum effectiveness. 
Mr James Nagan, BirdLife Port Base Outreach officer based in Suva, Fiji, said the programme aims to bridge the implementation gap between regional and government regulations requiring use of bycatch mitigation on fishing vessels and practical application of the mitigation by skippers and crew to prevent bycatch of species of special interest. 
SPREP’s Threatened and Migratory Species Adviser, Island and Ocean Ecosystems Programme (IOE), Ms Karen Baird, said the accidental capture of marine species by fishing gear is a key threat to seabirds, sharks, turtles, whales and dolphins, and it is one of the priority areas for action in our Regional Marine Species Programme 2022-2026.

The 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials and associated meetings are taking place at Taumeasina Island Resort in Samoa this week, from 4-8 September 2023. The meetings are guided by the theme: “SPREP@30th Sustainable, transformative and resilient for a Blue Pacific.”  

The 31st SPREP Meeting of Officials and associated meetings bring together SPREP's 21 Pacific Island Member countries, 5 Metropolitan Members and partners to discuss strategic issues pertaining to the organisation, and to approve the 2024-2025 work plan. The 21 Pacific Island Member countries and territories of SPREP are: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna. The five Metropolitan members of SPREP are: Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America. 

In our efforts to fulfil our vision of ‘a resilient Pacific environment, sustaining our livelihoods and natural heritage in harmony with our cultures’, SPREP is extremely grateful to our valued Members, development partners, donors, our CROP family, and stakeholders.  

For more information on the 31SM, please contact: [email protected]