Report shows positive trends in Pacific conservation

Data from a report on conservation within the Pacific islands has shown positive trends in relation to ozone-depleting substances as well as protected areas for commercial pelagic fishery.

The report, which was released during the 10th Pacific Islands Conference for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas at the end of last month, received the triple gold crown rating.

According to a statement released by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.), the triple gold crown rating is the only indicator with all three criteria coming in at the top: the status is good, the trend is improving, and managers have high confidence in the data. 

And coming in second place with a good status report, in terms of high confidence in the data, it is showing a trend that for now is only stable, are commercial pelagic fishes. 

S.P.R.E.P. Director General Kosi Latu said that community effort and adherence to laws and regulations have resulted in the positive trends revealed by the report.

"Both of these positive trends have come about as a result of significant government regulations and adherence to the law, combined with actions by individuals and local community members, showcasing the importance of scientific data in demonstrating the need for regulations as well as the comprehension of that data for taking action,” he said.

“Ozone depletion has benefited from a strong international agreement and financial support, as well as extensive innovation in industries such as refrigeration. 

“Fisheries have benefitted from strong regional coordination and a willingness to pressure distant water fishing nations to comply with regional regulations.”

Of the 31 total indicators of Pacific species, ecosystems, and factors affecting the region’s relationship with nature, most have medium data confidence, meaning the data are geographically sparse or cover only short time periods. 

In this aspect, the report provides clear guidance about what needs to change in order to improve understanding and assess where the gaps are in the data.

Mr Latu added that sustainable environmental management and resilient development are therefore essential.

“A key priority for sustainable environmental management and resilient development in our islands is the need to obtain, assess, and apply high-quality national and regional environmental information to enable us to effectively plan, implement, and monitor our progress towards sustainable environmental outcomes in a time of great change in the region," Mr Latu added.

"To achieve this, we require a commitment to science, knowledge, and appropriate technologies, investment in the education and engagement of our young people, and continuous up-to-date reporting on the status of the Pacific environment."

Data limitations are a challenge throughout the region: 11 indicators in the report are given a low confidence rating and for some, there is not even enough data to determine a trend. 

These limitations prevent an accurate assessment of terrestrial wildlife protection, the rate of capture of household waste, protected area management effectiveness, and integration of protected areas into wider-land and seascapes.

Yet expert opinion and the limited data about these topics suggest a range in their status, with some nearly meeting and others well below healthy environmental standards.

The President of the New Caledonia government, Thierry Santa, emphasised in the opening session of the conference that in Oceania the islands have an extraordinarily high number of unique species that have existed for thousands of years. 

“It is essential to create synergies between and with Pacific people, to reinforce cooperation and increase exchanges to be able to face ongoing transformations and build our shared resilience with the necessary help of everyone involved," he said.

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