The first Pacific Ocean Alliance meeting was held in Suva, Fiji from May 25-7, focused on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The Pacific Ocean Alliance) was launched at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa in September 2014, with its own charter, to bring about strengthened coordination and collaboration across and between stakeholders with an interest in how the Pacific ocean is conserved and managed. The Pacific Ocean Alliance is facilitated by the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, and was called for by Pacific Ocean Prime Ministers and Presidents under the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape Following the a workshop of the a Pacific Ocean Alliance Technical Working Group on the 28th discussed options for policies on marine genetic resources, area based management, impact assessments, oceans governance, capacity building and technology transfer. Pacific Oceans Commissioner Dame Meg Ryan opened the meeting, and wrote an article entitled “High Hopes for the High Seas”, describing the aspirations for the Pacific.
The three day meeting discussed the Pacific Islands region’s ocean priorities and interests as they relate to areas beyond national jurisdiction. Presentations on the various aspects ranged from marine protected areas, marine genetic resources, environmental impact assessments, to marine tourism and traditional navigation and voyaging. Participants started to build networks, increased their understanding of the issues, prepared for engagement in the upcoming international negotiations on a new implementing agreement for biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The High Seas Alliance’s Duncan Currie gave presentations on marine protected areas and environmental impact assessments. Surrounded by enormous exclusive economic zones and beyond them the Pacific Ocean, Pacific peoples are keenly aware of the importance of ocean protection. Currie eported that it was inspiring and humbling to see at first hand the depth of interest, passion and engagement in oceans policy in the Pacific, and predicts that the Pacific nations will continue to lead in innovative solutions to pressing problems related to the ocean.