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Friday, October 26, 2007

Pacific to work on saving our Coral Reefs next year

By SPREP, Samoa

The 2008 Pacific Year of the Reef Campaign (PYOR) plan was announced during a free form session of the 8th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.

Next year, the Pacific people will be encouraged to work towards reversing the current degradation of coral reefs this will help build their resilience to natural factors such as climate change. Since 1980 to 1995 the Pacific region has been losing its coral reef at the rate of 1% per year. From 1995 until now the rate of this loss has doubled.

SPREP’s Coral Reef Management Officer, Caroline Vieux, is leading the SPREP team working on the 2008 Pacific Year of the Reef.

“We observe that some reefs were more resilient to disturbance than other coral reefs. They could resist, recover or adapt better to disturbances, especially when it came to coral bleaching. What we’re trying to do now is to identify these coral reefs and focus our conservation effort on them as they will be more likely to cope with climate change and its affects. That’s what this campaign will be about.”

‘Strong reefs, strong islands’ is the slogan that will encompass the 2008 Pacific Year of the Reef. The year will see SPREP launch a number of different activities, several of which include school competitions, posters, stickers, fact sheets, DVD, postcards, information booklets as well as World Environment Day activities. SPREP understands the importance of working in partnership with Pacific people at all levels; regional, national and communities for a successful campaign.

“Reefs are important as protectors of the islands and community against storm surges and providers of food and income for the communities. We’re really hoping that the communities will get behind us in this and work with us in saving our coral reefs, as it will take a regional effort to save our reefs.”

Vieux has been approached to make a presentation to the students of Education Milne Bay, while in Alotau, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Work has already begun to make sure the 2008 Pacific Year of the Reef reaches as many Pacific people as possible. – SPREP, Alotau.

"Building on this regional commitment, the consultation aims to aid MPs in their aspirations to meet global human rights standards and norms in the Pacific through signing up to, and implementing, core international and regional human rights conventions and agreements, as well as through the application of human rights standards in the development of national policy, practice and laws," Bernklau said.

She said it would also serve as a forum for parliamentarians to share experiences, issues and dilemmas encountered in their use of human rights standards to address human rights concerns in legislation and parliamentary debates, as well as to explore how human rights had been applied locally and regionally in a positive way to enhance the development of Pacific peoples.

The Pacific Plan of Action for Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Integration (the Pacific Plan), consistently refers to human rights, particularly under its goal of good governance. The Plan envisions, step-by-step, a region that is "respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the full observance of democratic values, and for its defence and promotion of human rights".

In particular, the Plan instructs Pacific Island Forum member states to, where appropriate, sign up to and implement international and regional human rights conventions and agreements. This initiative is not listed for agreement in principle or for further analysis, but for immediate implementation as a regional priority (2006-2008).

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