Thursday, 23 October 2008 2:27 PM

Solomons to Benefit From US for Marine Conservation

Solomon Islands is one of six countries to benefit from the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI).

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today pledged nearly $40 million to support the international effort to save the Coral Triangle, the world's greatest expanse of mangroves, coral reefs and diversity of fish, currently under threat from pollution, unsustainable fishing practices and climate change.

"The Coral Triangle Initiative builds on three decades of assistance that the USG has provided for coastal resources management in the Asia-Pacific," said U.S. Ambassador to Solomon Islands Leslie Rowe.

USAID, for instance, has several ongoing bilateral assistance programs in coastal and marine resource management, valued at over $10 million that will also contribute to achieving the CTI's objectives.

"The CTI will greatly benefit the people of Solomon Islands," said Ambassador Rowe, noting that Solomon Islands is home to some of the most diverse and significant tropical marine environments in the world. However, its resources are declining and its biodiversity is under threat due to human activities.

USAID and the U.S. Department of State (USDOS) will provide these new funds over five years to the Coral Triangle Initiative, a consortium formed to promote sustainable fisheries and coastal resource management programs in East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands.

The CTI seeks to protect 6 million square kilometers of ocean and coasts, an area that has been called the "Amazon of the Seas" for its biodiversity. The Coral Triangle, where the Indian and Pacific oceans meet, is home to 30% of the world's coral reefs representing 75% of the known coral species.

The USG funding is intended to support the commitments and progress made by the six Coral Triangle (CT6) countries' governments on the CTI's plan of action. Supporting the CT6 is an association of development partners, including non-governmental organizations, private donor foundations, and governmental agencies, including USAID and USDOS.

This new USG support was announced today during the second CTI Senior Official's Meeting in Manila. USAID is providing $32 million to a consortium of NGOs including the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International to protect the Coral Triangle. These NGOs will work with government and private-sector partners to strengthen local governance, protect livelihoods, promote eco-tourism, and protect reefs and mangroves to shield coastal communities from storms.

USAID is committing an additional $6.7 million over five years to ensure that the USG's efforts are closely coordinated with the other CTI partners and that all are utilizing the best regional and international expertise. The USDOS has provided an additional $750,000 to The Nature Conservancy to help the CT6 launch programs during the CTI's formative stages.

"The degradation of the Coral Triangle is so great that we must hurry to preserve the best of it," said Dr. J.E.N. "Charlie" Veron, the marine scientist who discovered that the Coral Triangle, an area where there currently are few management protocols in place, is the global epicenter for marine life.

"The CTI will encourage responsible fishing practices while raising the profile of the CT6 and their marine ecosystems," Veron said. "That will attract tourist dollars, generate local income and encourage changes in laws to support conservation."

The Coral Triangle's marine and coastal resources - and the goods and services they provide - are threatened by over-fishing, blast and cyanide fishing, sedimentation and other forms of pollution from coastal development, poor agricultural practices and deforestation, and ocean acidification due to global warming. These factors are adversely affecting the region's fish, coral and mangroves, as well as the 120 million people dependent on them for their livelihoods. The CTI's partners, recognizing the severity of the situation, have banded together with the CT6 governments to save the Coral Triangle for future generations.

The USG support will help the consortium's partners protect the Coral Triangle for future generations. These partners include the Asian Development Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Development Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, the Australian Government, the Walton Family Foundation, and the NGO consortium, all under the leadership of the CT6 governments.

To enhance regional security and prosperity, the CTI will address the challenges of food security, sustainable livelihoods, responsible trade, good governance, biodiversity preservation, and climate change. These are issues that cross geographical and political boundaries.

"A cross-border effort like the CTI is vital to restore the Coral Triangle's ecosystems," said Olivier Carduner, Director of USAID's Regional Development Mission for Asia, noting that tuna might breed in one country's waters, mature in another's, and then migrate and be caught anywhere in the Pacific region. "By coordinating our efforts, leveraging our funds, uniting our political will, and reaching out to key stakeholders, we can save these extraordinary marine ecosystems."


Press Release (Government Communication Unit)