HONIARA, 28 November 2019 -– His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, has launched the Solomon Islands Ocean Policy, which aims to step up sustainable management and conservation of the Solomon Islands fisheries industry.
The Prince oversaw the launch event at the Lawson Tama Stadium on Monday, 25 November, during his recent visit to Honiara. The visit focused on climate change and ocean governance.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, attended by more than a thousand people, the Prince of Wales said the natural environment of the country is important for its prosperity and security.
He said it is sad to see the environment of the country, just like many other countries in the world, threatened by climate change, global warming, pollution, unsustainable logging, and overfishing.
“If you keep your natural heritage, your children and your grandchildren will also benefit from them,” he said.
He added that something urgent needs to be done.
The Prince said that, for that reason, he was pleased to be part of the launching program to witness the important government new ocean policy.
“I hope the policy will secure the marine ecosystem that surrounds these islands and to bring wealth, health and wellbeing for the future generation,” he said.
Prior to the launch, His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, also addressed the national parliament of Solomon Islands.
At the parliament, the Prince of Wales praised Solomon Islands for establishing the marine protected areas initiatives to protect fish and food nutrients, and said it is vital for survival of the endangered oceans creatures.
“Marine protected areas are utterly essential mechanisms to increase fisheries catch,” Prince Charles said.
“If the world achieves target of protecting 40% of oceans by 2030, the global fishing catch will actually increase by 57%.
“It seems such an immense potential for the Solomon Islands for taking leading role by protecting [marine areas]. This will help to increase dramatically the productivity of fisheries and major boost to tourism sector,” Prince Charles told parliament.
He added that besides Solomon Islands’ human capital, the precious natural environment and biodiversity of its islands, on land and water, and below the water, represent immense reserves of natural capital.
“As you would appreciate far better than me, your islands are blessed with an astonishing biodiversity of global importance, with your coral reefs being the second most diverse in the world,” the Prince said.
“But such natural capital wealth which, if sustainably managed, should be the bedrock of your economic growth, is at the same time very fragile. Its very fragility is increased immeasurably and alarmingly by the great impact of global warming, climate change and natural capital intrusion.”
In a brief introduction of the Solomon Islands Ocean Policy at the launch event this week, the Director of the Government Communication Unit (GCU), George Herming, said the National Ocean Policy provides a framework that will guide the integrated governance over 1.9 million square kilometres of ocean.
“The policy carried the vision of the Government and people of Solomon Islands for a healthy, resilient, secure and productive ocean that supports sustainable use and development for the benefit of the people and children of Solomon Islands now into the future,” Mr Herming said.
“This is a policy path that we have chosen to join the Malaysia Ocean, recognising its values and opportunities, embraces many uses and to proactively address our ocean threats,” he added.
More significantly, Mr Herming said, through the policy Solomon Islands is joining the global community towards meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
He said the Cabinet under the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) and Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela endorsed the policy in November 2018, and Monday’s launch marks the beginning of the journey to roll it out.
This is being supported by the current government of Manasseh Sogavare, the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA).
When speaking at the launch, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister said the National Ocean Policy provides the framework to safeguard the health and integrity of the ocean to benefit the current generation but, more importantly, would leave a legacy for future generations.
“The policy will also ensure we met our national, regional and international commitments,” Mr Sogavare said.
He added that Solomon Islands is a large ocean state with 98.2% covered by ocean, and only 1.8% covered by land.
“This is our reality and we are ocean people living in harmony with our ocean, our culture, our spirituality, our livelihood and our sustaining is interlinked to our ocean,” he said.
“To protect opportunities and pursue development opportunities from our ocean, we developed a robust and integrated ocean governance policy that entrenches a vision of a healthy, resilient, secure and productive ocean that supports sustainable use and development for the benefit of the people of Solomon Islands now and into the future.”
As part of His Royal Highness’s visit to Solomon Islands, he also took the time to tour the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) at the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) headquarters in Honiara.
At the FFA HQ, the Prince was welcomed by the Director-General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, and Forum Fisheries Committee Chair, Mr Eugene Pangelinan.
Though the visit was short, the Prince of Wales was briefed about FFA’s work in the area of sustainable fisheries management, and on regional efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and minimise the impacts of climate change.
“We emphasised the importance of cooperation in the sustainable utilisation of our fisheries resources because of its critical importance to the economic, cultural and social fabric of our Pacific people, and consistent with the long track record and commitment of His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, to sustainable management of the world’s oceans,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.
According to Mr Steve Masika of the FFA RFSC, the Prince was also told of how the work of the FFA is linked to the newly launched Solomon Islands Ocean Policy.
After the RFSC tour, HRH Prince Charles also met FFA staff, engaging with them on aspects of FFA’s work.
“It was a great honour for our staff to meet the Prince of Wales and we were pleased to have an opportunity to present him with a gift as a token of our appreciation,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said in a statement.