PEIN Marine Digest - May 2009: A digest of Pacific marine news and developments

Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Marine Digest

 A digest of Pacific marine news and developments

[*The PEIN project is coordinated by the SPREP Information Resource Centre ]

 May 2009

Refugees Join List of Climate-Change Issues
New York Times - 29 May 2009
With their boundless vistas of turquoise water framed by swaying coconut palms, the Carteret Islands northeast of the Papua New Guinea mainland might seem the idyllic spot to be a castaway. But sea levels have risen so much that during the annual king tide season, November to March, the roiling ocean blocks the view from one island to the next, and residents stash their possessions in fishing nets strung between the palm trees. "It gives you the scary feeling that you don't know what is going to happen to you, that any minute you will be floating," Ursula Rakova, the head of a program to relocate residents, said by telephone. The chain could well be uninhabitable by 2015, locals believe, but two previous attempts to abandon it ended badly, when residents were chased back after clashing with their new neighbors on larger islands. This dark situation underlies the thorny debate over the world's responsibilities to the millions of people likely to be displaced by climate change...more

New report: Marine Protected Areas: Legislative and Policy Gap Analysis for Fiji Islands
IUCN - May 2009
IUCN is pleased to announce the release of a policy and legislation gap analysis for marine protected areas in the Fiji Islands. The paper was prepared on behalf of the IUCN Regional Office for Oceania, at the request of the WWF South Pacific Programme, and was co-authored by IUCN Commission on Environmental Law (CEL) member, Ms Erika Techera, and IUCN Legal Research Intern, Ms Shauna Troniak. "In this report, the authors provide a thoughtful analysis of key legal and policy issues associated with the establishment of marine protected areas in Fiji, with a particular emphasis on the role of local communities in the management of coastal marine resources," said Pepe Clarke, IUCN CEL Regional Focal Point for Oceania... download from

Pacific Islands Report - 27 May 2009
World Ocean Conference and Coral Triangle Initiative participants should urgently consider nutrient pollution is killing coral as photographic evidence indicates, not CO2 induced climate change. Wrong diagnosis can be fatal. World Wildlife Fund and recent Indonesia CTI conference effort must focus on sanitation and proper sewage treatment to overcome nutrient pollution that is feeding algae that in turn is suffocating coral polyps... more

New resource of interest: Map of Marine Managed Areas in the Pacific
SPREP - May 2009
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), in cooperation with WWF and the WorldFish Center's ReefBase Pacific Project, has documented and reviewed the marine managed areas (MMAs) in the South Pacific. The study has specifically focused on the status and potential of locally-managed marine areas (LMMAs) in meeting food security, nature conservation and sustainable livelihood targets. This map presents a summary of data published in that report, as well as additional information that illustrates linkages between coastal communities & livelihoods, critical habitats & biodiversity and MMAs of Pacific Island Countries and Territories. For further information go to

To download the full report visit:
To download the map visit:

Heat-tolerant Coral Reefs Discovered: May Survive Global Warming
Science Daily - 19 May 2009
Experts say that more than half of the world's coral reefs could disappear in the next 50 years, in large part because of higher ocean temperatures caused by climate change. But now Stanford University scientists have found evidence that some coral reefs are adapting and may actually survive global warming. "Corals are certainly threatened by environmental change, but this research has really sparked the notion that corals may be tougher than we thought," said Stephen Palumbi, a professor of biology and a senior fellow at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment. Palumbi and his Stanford colleagues began studying the resiliency of coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean in 2006 with the support of a Woods Institute Environmental Venture Project grant. The project has expanded and is now being funded by Conservation International and the Bio-X program at Stanford... In 2006, Palumbi and graduate student Tom Oliver, now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, traveled to Ofu Island in American Samoa. Ofu, a tropical coral reef marine reserve, has remained healthy despite gradually warming waters...more

Australia Moves to Protect the Coral Sea

Voice of America - 19 May 2009
Australia has agreed to protect one million square kilometers of ocean off its northeast coast. The Coral Sea Conservation Zone will help safeguard an area described by conservationists as a "spectacular marine jewel" while the region is assessed for more permanent protection. The Coral Sea is home to an array of wildlife. It is one of the few places in the world where populations of large fish such as tuna and sharks have not been severely depleted.
Australia has set up the Coral Sea Conservation Zone in its territorial waters east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The area borders on vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean that are controlled by Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The new measures are an interim step while other suggestions are considered, such as proposals to establish a new marine park or ban commercial fishing in the region...more

Asia-Pacific nations agree to protect reef network
AP - 15 May 2009
Six Asia-Pacific countries agreed Friday on a wide-ranging plan to protect one of the world's largest networks of coral reefs, promising to reduce pollution, eliminate overfishing and improve the livelihoods of impoverished coastal communities. The agreement at the World Oceans Conference creates a voluntary management plan for an area defined as the Coral Triangle, which spans Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and East Timor. It accounts for a third of the world's coral reefs and 35 percent of coral reef fish species. Several governments committed money to the plan during the two-day meeting, including the United States, which pledged $40 million over five years. The agreement, known as the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, follows a symbolic memorandum signed earlier in the meeting by government officials from 80 countries. It calls for improved efforts to protect oceans from overdevelopment and illegal fishing...more

Indonesia launches Southeast Asia's biggest marine park
Reuters - 14 May 2009
Indonesia has opened Southeast Asia's largest marine park in the Savu Sea, a migration route for almost half the world's whale species and home to vast tracts of rare coral, the country's fisheries minister said. Environmental groups, The Nature Conservancy and WWF will help set up the reserve, where efforts will be made to stamp out illegal practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing. Tourism activities and subsistence fishing by locals will be allowed but restricted to certain areas. The Savu Marine National Park, launched at the World Ocean Conference in Manado, Sulawesi, will cover 3.5 million hectares (8.649 million acres) in an area of 500 species of coral, 14 species of whales and 336 species of fish living in the Savu Sea near Flores in eastern Indonesia. "(It is) potentially one of the largest marine protected areas in the Coral Triangle," Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Freddy Numberi said on Wednesday. He was referring to the biologically diverse coral reef network bounded by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. "About 14 species out of 27 -- meaning 50 percent -- species of whales in the world migrate using this route from the Pacific Ocean, passing through the Banda Sea, Flores Sea and Savu Sea to the Indian Ocean," said Numberi...more

Vital coral reefs 'face collapse'
AlJezeera - 13 May 2009
One of the world's most ecologically and economically important coral reef systems could be a dead wasteland by the end of the century without urgent action to tackle climate change, scientists have warned. In a report released on Wednesday, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said the collapse of Southeast Asia's Coral Triangle as a result of rising sea temperatures would threaten the livelihoods of more than 100 million people in the region. It would also spell the end of an ecosystem labelled the marine equivalent of the Amazon rainforest, the report said. The WWF report was released at the World Ocean Conference in Sulawesi, Indonesia, where senior officials from 80 countries are holding talks aimed at building an international commitment on marine conservation. In its report the environmental group said the death of the reef system, which generates an estimated $3bn in annual income, would cause food production in the region to plummet by 80 per cent. The Coral Triangle stretches between the Indian and Pacific oceans across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands...more ... Download report -

New report: Pacific Ocean Synthesis: Scientific Literature Review of Coastal and Ocean Threats, Impacts, and Solutions
Contributed by Peter Murgatroyd - May 2009
The objective of this Pacific Ocean synthesis is to comprehensively and systematically survey the published scientific literature, government publications and other peer-reviewed reports to identify Pacific Ocean and regional threats as well as the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of those threats. In addition, the report highlights select regional and Pacific Ocean solutions presented by the literature. This report summarizes and distills the scientific literature and highlights common trends in and around the Pacific Ocean regarding threats, impacts and solutions through the review of more than 3400 scientific articles and reports. It also reveals gaps in knowledge and areas where more natural and social science research is needed that could inform coastal and ocean policy and management... download report from -

FIJI FISHING GROUNDS NEED TRADITIONAL PROTECTION: Villagers being trained to protect qoliqoli
Pacific Islands Report - 12 May 2009
A traditional call to the four coastal districts within Macuata is being made for the people to awaken and protect their fishing grounds (qoliqoli). A working team from the qoliqoli cokovata (combined fishing grounds) of Macuata is moving through 22 villages within the four districts of Mali, Dreketi, Sasa and Macuata, creating awareness about the importance of protecting their qoliqoli...more

Scientists urge world leaders to respond cooperatively to Pacific Ocean threats
EurekAlert - 12 May 2009
More than 400 leading scientists from nearly two-dozen countries have signed a consensus statement on the major threats facing the Pacific Ocean. The threats identified as the most serious and pervasive include overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change."This is first time the scientific community has come together in a single voice to express urgency over the environmental crisis facing the Pacific Ocean," said Meg Caldwell, executive director of the Center for Ocean Solutions, who will present the statement on Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time to government officials gathered at the World Ocean Conference in Manado, Indonesia. "The scientific community urges governments to respond now, cooperatively, to these threats before their impacts accelerate beyond our ability to respond." The consensus statement, titled "Ecosystems and People of the Pacific Ocean: Threats and Opportunities for Action," emerged from a scientific workshop in Honolulu hosted by the Center for Ocean Solutions in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Ocean Conservancy. The workshop was part of a broader effort by the three organizations to challenge countries throughout the Pacific region to improve the health of marine ecosystems by 2020. In the consensus statement, the scientists warn that if left unchecked, the cumulative impacts of overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction--exacerbated by climate change--could have devastating consequences for coastal economies, food supplies, public health and political stability. These threats affect all members of the Pacific Ocean community, said Stephen Palumbi, director of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station and one of the principal organizers of the consensus statement...more ...The scientific consensus statement and synthesis can be found at the Center for Ocean Solutions website,

Disaster looms with rising sea levels: islands
AFP - 11 May 2009
Rising sea levels that could wipe whole nations off the map and displace scores of millions of people are being overlooked in global climate change talks, island countries said Tuesday. Major emitters are pushing for greenhouse gas emissions cuts that are too low to prevent devastating sea rises, representatives said at the World Ocean Conference in Indonesia's Manado city. "Dealing with environmental refugees will have a much more serious impact on the global economy and global security in fact than what wars have ever done to this planet," said Rolph Payet, a presidential adviser from the African island nation of the Seychelles. Other nations under threat from even small rises in sea levels include the Pacific island states of Kiribati and Tuvalu, while heavily populated low-lying areas such as Bangladesh's coastline would also go under. The five-day conference has attracted hundreds of officials and experts from 70 countries and is being billed as a prelude to December talks on a successor to the expiring Kyoto Protocol...more

Financing Spotlight: Funding Fijian MPAs through Resource "Adoption" Programs
MPA News
In March, a new Web-based tool to raise funds for Fijian MPAs was launched, enabling people to pay online to "adopt" corals, reefs, and mangroves in the Pacific island nation. The NGO behind it - Sustainable Fijian Reef Resources, or Sasalu Tawamudu in the Fijian language - was founded by faculty members of the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and the Georgia Institute of Technology in the U.S. The organization's goal is to help conserve Fiji's reefs and forests while promoting sustainable development in
local Fijian communities. The three resource-adoption programs - Adopt-a- Coral, Adopt-a-Reef, and Adopt-a-Mangrove - are available on the Sasalu Tawamudu website at The bulk of funds raised via each program is transferred directly to the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA). This is a Fijian network of traditional leaders, conservation staff, and others working on community-based marine conservation projects.

Fight to save the 'Amazon of the oceans'
AFP - 9 May 2009
With its pleasure boats dipping on the horizon and clustered tourist restaurants, the Indonesian island of Nusa Lembongan looks little like the edge of a great wilderness. But according to scientists, this small and scrubby island off Bali is one corner of a huge marine ecosystem touted as the most diverse on earth -- and a key environmental battleground for a planet grappling with climate change. The area is known as the Coral Triangle, and stretching across six nations between the Indian and Pacific oceans -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands -- it is impressive in scale. About half the size of the continental United States, the triangle is home to more than half the world's coral reefs, three-quarters of its coral species and key stocks of fish that help feed the world. "People have compared the Coral Triangle's biodiversity richness to the Amazon," said Abdul Halim, the head of The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) Coral Triangle Centre...more

Lagoon Day to focus on practical solutions [Cook Islands]
Contributed by Ana Titaa - 8 May 2009
A green waste centre is on Teariki Matenga's wish list for the island
The Takitumu Lagoon Day theme will be focused on solutions to address the damage being done to the lagoon, says organiser Teariki Matenga. On Monday the organising committee for the bigger lagoon day event met to talk over how the theme will be presented. This year Lagoon Day will be held over two days - Friday 5 and Saturday 6 June at the Ngatangiia Clubrooms and field in Muri. Matenga says last year's event saw problems being identified, so this year the emphasis is on solutions to the damage our actions and inaction has caused. The damage has been done by various pollutants getting into streams and the lagoon. Matenga says the focus this year is on how to solve the growing sewerage problem with simple and practical measures. Already the second modified version of the banana trench sewerage system is being trialed in Takitumu. This system was showcased at last year's event, showing a simple method of reducing the nutrients and bacteria that can seep out of septic systems by up to fifty percent.

SOLOMONS, PNG, FSM SUBMIT CONTINENTAL SHELF CLAIM: Claim is 'testament for practical regional cooperation'
Pacific Islands Report - 7 May 2009
Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia have submitted a joint continental shelf claim on the Ontong Java plateau to the United Nations...more

CARTERET ISLANDERS BECOME FIRST CLIMATE REFUGEES: PNG relocates families as island home disappears
Pacific Islands Report - 4 May 2009
The first world climate refugees from Carterets Island moved to their new homes, Tinputz, the relocation site last Wednesday to prepare the land for their families to move over permanently. Fathers of the first five families to relocate arrived on the shores of Tinputz on Wednesday...more

MORE THAN 1000 ENDANGERED TURTLES HATCH IN SOLOMONS: Record setting hatch of leatherbacks and green sea turtles
Pacific Islands Report - 4 May 2009
The Tetepare Descendants' Association (TDA) is celebrating a record-breaking turtle hatching season on Tetepare Island in the Western Province. At the close of the turtle-hatching season on Tetepare last week, the Tetepare Descendants' Association (TDA) announced that more than 800 critically endangered leatherback turtles hatched on Tetepare beaches during this season. And almost 300 endangered green turtles hatched on Tetepare, where rangers have been working to save these endangered turtle species...more

Tetepare's reefs in top shape [Solomon Islands]
Solomon Star - 4 May 2009
A RECENT survey of coral reefs around Tetepare Island in the Western Province, has confirmed the island's reefs are in excellent health. Tetepare, the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, is one of the conservation jewels of the Solomon Islands. The island is conserved and managed by the Tetepare Descendants' Association (TDA) with the support of the Sustainable Forestry Conservation Project of the European Union. TDA marine monitors last week conducted a Reef Check survey at 12 sites around Tetepare Island. They surveyed reefs inside Tetepare's 13 kilometre-long Marine Protected Area, as well as outside the MPA. The marine monitors found high coral and fish diversity and healthy populations of key fish and invertebrate species, both inside and outside the MPA...more

Big increase in ocean mercury found; study predicts more human threat from fish
Environmental Health News - 2 May 2009
Mercury levels in the Pacific Ocean will rise by 50 percent within the next few decades as emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources increase, scientists reported Friday. The researchers, led by scientists from Harvard University and the U.S. Geological Survey, found that the ocean's mercury levels have already risen about 30% over the last 20 years. Combined, the findings mean the Pacific Ocean will be twice as contaminated with mercury in 2050 as it was in 1995 if the emission rates continue. As a result, people around the globe could be increasingly exposed to mercury from eating fish and other seafood. Methylmercury, a neurotoxin, can alter brain development of fetuses and has been linked with learning problems and reduced IQs in some children...more

Mission to break up Pacific island of rubbish twice the size of Texas
Times Online - 2 May 2009
A high-seas mission departs from San Francisco next month to map and explore a sinister and shifting 21st-century continent: one twice the size of Texas and created from six million tonnes of discarded plastic. Scientists and conservationists on the expedition will begin attempts to retrieve and recycle a monument to throwaway living in the middle of the North Pacific. The toxic soup of refuse was discovered in 1997 when Charles Moore, an oceanographer, decided to travel through the centre of the North Pacific gyre (a vortex or circular ocean current). Navigators usually avoid oceanic gyres because persistent high-pressure systems - also known as the doldrums - lack the winds and currents to benefit sailors. Mr Moore found bottle caps, plastic bags and polystyrene floating with tiny plastic chips. Worn down by sunlight and waves, discarded plastic disintegrates into smaller pieces. Suspended under the surface, these tiny fragments are invisible to ships and satellites trying to map the plastic continent, but in subsequent trawls Mr Moore discovered that the chips outnumbered plankton by six to one...more


Forum Fisheries Agency in the news ..(compiled by Anouk Ride)


1) FFA
Outcomes from Forum Fisheries Committee meeting in Niue

2) FFA
Outcomes from PNA Ministers meeting

3) FFA
Key surveillance operation concludes this week in FSM & Palau

4) FFA
Outcomes from PNA Officials meeting

5) FFA
PNG Minister of Defence visits FFA

See section on fisheries

Protecting the last great tuna stocks

Observers share exxpereicne working on foreign boats

Local media observes work of fishing observers

Local media observes work of fishing observers

FFA observers monitor fishing vessels

Current Affairs: How observers work

Regional heads stand up against pirate fishing

Regional heads stand up against pirate fishing

Tuna Operational Plan

Parties to the Nauru Agreement come down hard on illegal fishing

Pacific nations discuss tuna fisheries

Greenpeace calls for Pacific solidarity


High level Niue fisheries meeting look at shielding fisheries revenue from economic crisis

Forum fisheries ministers adopt new management strategy

PNA fisheries grouping to set up own secretariat in the Marshall Islands


Articles of note - a selection of recent academic literature

- May 2009

Dietary Shifts by Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Kane'ohe Bay Region of the Hawaiian Islands: A 28-Year Study /
Dennis J. Russell, George H. Balazs. Pacific Science , Apr 2009 : Volume 63 Issue 2. pg(s) 181-192*

Ciguatera in the Introduced Fish Cephalopholis argus (Serranidae) in Hawai'i and Implications for Fishery Management /
Jan Dierking, Cara E. Campora. Pacific Science , Apr 2009 : Volume 63 Issue 2. pg(s) 193-204*

Distributions of stress-resistant coral symbionts match environmental patterns at local but not regional scales / Oliver TA, Palumbi SR. . Marine Ecology Progress Series, 2009; 37893 DOI: 10.3354/meps07871



Compiled by Peter Murgatroyd.