The health of oceans, coastal and marine resources dominated the agenda during a meeting of relevant stakeholders at the Taumeasina Island Resort yesterday.
The gathering was the “Ocean Health Index (O.H.I.) Initial Key Stakeholder Consultation.” Organised by Conservation International and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.), the goal is to gauge the views of key technical stakeholders on an oceans working group.
More than 30 participants took part.
“The Ocean Heath Index is a tool that was developed by scientists in the U.S., and it’s a part of the Conservation International enervative,” said the Manager of Conservation International’s O.H.I. programme, Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson.
“It’s supported by scientists and experts on marine science, internationally.
“The O.H.I. looks at values of the ocean, how does it serve livelihoods and people so of course when a country develops we use ocean resources – so how do we control that?
“So we are still being mindful of the part of the ocean but also people benefit from it.
“The challenge for us is to really see how everyone can work together and bring together initiatives and make sure that we share the benefits of having a healthy ocean.”
The O.H.I. can also be a tracking tool to keep the ocean sustainable while it continues to provide people with the things they need such as food provision, carbon storage, clean waters, biodiversity and others.
“The O.H.I. looks at values of the ocean how does it serve livelihoods and people so when a country develops we can use ocean resources.”
Schannel van Dijken said the consultation is extremely important.
“There are a couple of things that I’ll like to see out of this,” he said.
“One of the most important is the collaboration at least. Different stakeholders we have in Samoa that deal with these issues and issues that affect them, coming together and working as a group to identify what are the key priorities for them
“This is actually what’s forming us, this ocean health index stakeholder group. So continuing to the future we could always come together to discuss ocean health issues that affect Samoa.”
What are some of the challenges?
“We’re an island, right? And so we are under island pressures and we live off the sea really because we are surrounded by ocean and it is our natural refrigerator, it’s where we get our food.
“Our coastlines are becoming more and more degraded because of the fact that we’re taking more and more out because we need to feed, we need to live.
“But moving forward from that, the O.H.I. is a way for us to start looking at what we have and start managing it.”
Yesterday’s consultation is part of the build up to a regional sustainable oceans initiative meeting to be held in Samoa next week.