SYDNEY, July 30, Xinhua - The Pacific Ocean is under siege and the only long-term solution to ocean warming, sea level rise and ocean acidification is a deep global cut in CO2 emissions, Palau president Tommy Remengesau told Pacific Island Forum (PFI) on Wednesday.
"Failing to recognize the very real impacts of climate change and failing to participate in an essential global response simply does not qualify as a regional commitment," Remengesau told the 45th PIF, whose theme is Ocean: Life and Future.
"The key to this entire process of building a sustainable future will be partnership between public and private entities, between our Pacific nations, with developed nations, and with international funding agencies."
Remengesau said Pacific island countries are among the smallest on the planet, but they have long been viewed as the conscience of the world.
"The ocean is the foundation for our way of life supplying sustenance, nurtures us and provides us with the basis for our strong Pacific Island cultures and our very identities," he said.
"However issues such as overfishing, illegal fishing, pollution, coastal runoff, global warming and growing ocean acidification, have weakened the resilience of our marine ecosystems and diminished our fish stocks.
"These attacks on our environment and our ocean threaten the very foundation of our Pacific Island life and future. We need responsive initiatives, realistic and workable financing mechanisms and real partnerships that respond to the issues that we face."
Remengesau said issues of food security will continue to be a growing threat and non-communicable diseases, and invasive species are hot topics, too.
He said Palau created the world's first Shark Sanctuary, where shark finning was prohibited and the taking of sharks, certain reef fish, turtles, rays and marine mammals was banned.
And now, the nation was in the process of declaring the Palau National Marine sanctuary, which will create a no-take fisheries zone and a highly regulated fisheries zone for domestic fishing needs.
He said this year's PIF seeks to mobilize all Pacific members towards more vigorous commitments to a sustainable ocean economy through a mixed management approach.
"We are asking members and partners to undertake new initiatives that will help each Pacific Island Nation, and the region as a whole, to establish a sustainable framework for future development," he said.
"Only through strong partnerships will we be able to meet the challenges of a stand-alone sustainable development goal on oceans that will serve as our pillar for future action."