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

A digest of Pacific marine news and developments

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


Cook Islands submits continental shelf claim at UN
PINA - 28 August 2009
The Cook Islands presentation to the United Nations to claim over 400,000 square kilometres of continental shelf has gone "very well" reports foreign affairs secretary Mike Mitchell from New York, reports Cook Islands News. Deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Sir Terepai Maoate made an opening speech to address the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on Tuesday this week in which he said "this is an historic time of tremendous significance for the Cook Islands". "We are here today, amongst far larger and wealthier countries to present our claim to extend our continental shelf. We are a country with limited resources, relatively isolated location, small size and population with narrow economic diversification and import dependence. This means that we are highly vulnerable environmentally and economically." ...more

AMERICAN SAMOA MARINE PROTECTION PLAN OKED: Projects estimated at $3.6 million
Pacific Islands Report - 28 August 2009
The federal government has approved American Samoa's Marine Conservation Plan (MCP) which outlines priority marine conservation projects. Estimated to cost US$3.6 million, it is to be funded with money received under the Pacific Area Fishery Agreement (PIAFA) or collected from fisheries violations for the period of 2009 to 2012. The 35-page MCP prepared by the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources and reviewed and approved during the March meeting in the territory of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (WPFMC) held here before its submission to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval, was granted early last week...more

Voyage confirms plastic pollution
BBC - 27 August 2009
Scientists have confirmed that there are millions of tonnes of plastic floating in an area of ocean known as the North Pacific Gyre. The first of two ships on a voyage to study plastic pollution there has recently returned to port. Scientists on board say they found increasing amounts of plastic of all sizes as they travelled into the gyre. They plan to analyse the effects of the waste on marine life and will propose methods to clear it up. The North Pacific Gyre is a slow-moving clockwise vortex where four major ocean currents meet. Little lives there besides phytoplankton. However the currents have carried millions of tonnes of rubbish into the centre of the gyre, which now covers an area estimated to be larger than the US state of Texas...more

Tuna could be fished to extinction by 2048
PINA - 26 August 2009
Greenpeace and a Taiwan conservation group has called on Taiwan to cut down its tuna catch, because overfishing could cause tuna's extinction by 2048, reports DPA. Greenpeace held a similar news conference in South Korea last week, and it will soon make the same demand on Japan. Japan is the world's top tuna-catching nation, and Taiwan is the second-largest. At the Taipei news conference, Greenpeace and the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan jointly urged the Taiwan government to join the global community to cut the Pacific tuna catch by 50 per cent. Scientists warn that if current exploitation trends continue all commercial fish species could be wiped out by 2048. The two groups asked Taiwan to support the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission (WCPFC) to close the four pockets of international waters in the Pacific Ocean as marine reserves to sustain the tuna stocks...more

Namdrik Atoll to be Designated as a 2nd Ramsar Wetlands of Importance Site in the RMI
Contributed by Vainuupo Jungblut - 27 August 2009 [RMIEPA news update]
An inception meeting was held with the Namdrik Atoll leadership at the EPA conference room on Wednesday, August 12th. The meeting was organized by RMI EPA to discuss a project proposal aiming to designate Namdrik Atoll as a 2nd Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance site in the RMI after the Jaluit Atoll Conservation Area project. RMI EPA has received a funding of $37,500 for the initiation of the project in Namdrik Atoll. EPA will work with the Namdrik leadership to develop a draft management plan to be submitted for the Ramsar Secretariat for consideration and endorsement. The atoll-based project will be entirely run and operated by the whole community.

Pacific Islands Report - 25 August 2009
The enforcement of the last turtle moratorium had been found to be wanting according to a survey. The real situation in Fiji was that there is "no enforcement of the moratorium and traditional harvest was often done without permits. It was also estimated that 1000s of turtles, mainly sub adults, caught in subsistence fishery and 100 plus of turtles, mainly adult greens, sacrifice themselves for traditional purposes. Most nesting beaches not protected and hunting and egg collecting occurs. These findings were found in a survey "Chiefs and fishing clans contribution to turtle conservation" ... WWF marine species officer Merewalesi Laveti told journalists if we did not all we would have of the turtles would be fossils like those of the extinct dinosaur. For the last seven months, marine conservationists had been crossing their fingers after the Fiji Moratorium Turtle legislation expired at the end of December last year. They also had been working hard with their government partners for another extension of the moratorium for the last seven months. The announcement by Fisheries permanent secretary Viliame Naupoto on Cabinet's decision on its extension brought a sigh of relief and applause from Fiji Locally Marine Managed Areas partners who had been pushing for its renewal. Naupoto said Cabinet decided to extend the Fiji Moratorium Turtle Act for another 10 years in recognition of the plight of the sea turtles in Fiji...more

Fiji approves action plan to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal unreported and regulated fishing
PINA - 25 August 2009
Fiji has approved the adoption of Fiji's National Plan of Action (NPOA) to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing on all fishing vessels that berth at Fiji ports. Head of the Ministry of Primary Industries, Joketani Cokanasiga said in recent years, IUU fishing has become a serious issue because it undermines efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks. "Without any concerted efforts at international, regional and national level to prevent and deter IUU fishing will result in severe loss of socio-economic opportunities, food security, and environmental protection...more

U.S. WANTS DEEP SEA DUMP OFF GUAM: Concerns raised about impacts on marine life
Pacific Islands Report - 24 August 2009
LOCAL residents have raised concerns over the potential impact of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed ocean disposal site for dredged materials off Apra Harbor, which the agency has defended in its draft environmental impact statement. Island residents and representatives from various environmental agencies met with the U.S. EPA last Thursday to discuss the draft EIS, which proposed two locations for a permanent ocean disposal site... more

Salt water ruining Kiribati attempts to grow own food
PINA - 24 August 2009
The Kiribati Government wants people to eat healthy, traditional food, but their gardens are being ruined by salt water, says a local proponent, reports NZ Herald . Pelenise Alofa Pilitati holds public cooking demonstrations to teach people how to cook using beans, nuts and lentils. She said the lessons were part of her "climate change adaptation programme" to help people whose gardens were threatened by tidal surges and sea-level rise. Otherwise, "people live off rice and tinned food" She said salt water was already seeping into the earth near her home, polluting the underground freshwater supply and affecting the roots of plants. Kiribati is officially 4m above sea level, but Ms Pilitati said most people lived "at eye level" with the sea ... more

Pacific governments move against illegal fishing
Australianetworknews - 24 August 2009
Environmental group Greenpeace has welcomed the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency's efforts to stop illegal fishing. The agency last week hosted a ten-day maritime surveillance operation to crack down on illegal fishing, smuggling and people trafficking in the Pacific... more

NOAA announces funding to support ocean observing in the Pacific Islands
EurekaAlert - 12 August 2009
NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) has awarded more than $2.09 million in competitive grant funding to support ocean observing efforts in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. The grants support the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System and will be administered by the University of Hawaii at Manoa under the direction of Brian Taylor, dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. Funding will continue support and development of the Hawaii-Pacific Ocean Observing and Information System which measures and predicts ocean and coastal conditions. The system also develops products aimed at enhancing the safe and productive use of the ocean, such as coastal inundation and erosion alerts, fishing and marine mammal forecasts, channel and nearshore circulation prediction, and automated water quality detection... more

Maps reveal secret life of marine turtles in urgent need of protection
WWF International - August 2009
A series of conservation maps produced by WWF reveal for the first time the secret life of endangered turtles in the world's most diverse marine region - the Coral Triangle. The maps are the first to bring together the different life cycle movements, migration routes, foraging grounds, and nesting sites of green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles. The maps were produced with the help of satellite tracking, and allow the identification and targeting of areas in urgent need of protection. They also highlight the inter-connectedness of marine habitats making a strong case for cooperation among Coral Triangle countries for the protection of shared marine resources in the region. "We now have a better picture and more comprehensive understanding of where marine turtles feed, breed, and nest around the waters of the Coral Triangle," says Matheus Halim, WWF Coral Triangle Turtle Strategy Leader. Marine turtles play a crucial role in the delicate web of ocean life by maintaining the health of seagrass beds and coral reefs, which are home to other marine species such as shrimp, lobster, sharks, dugongs and innumerable reef fish.
The maps serve as a guideline for where to establish Marine Protected Areas. "The maps clearly identify which areas in this region need protection", added Halim. "WWF is calling for the establishment of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that encompass these locations as part of the new six nations Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) and for turtles to be made a priority under The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN)."
Full story and source:

Second meeting of the Signatories to the Pacific Cetaceans MOU
SPREP - August 2009
Pacific Island states and territories are meeting in Auckland on 28-29 July, to agree a way forward to conserve the whales and dolphins cetaceans) of the Pacific Islands Region. Many species in the region, such as the blue whale, the humpback whale, the orca and the bottlenose dolphin, are endangered by a number of threats, including entanglement in fishing gear and by-catch, direct hunting, climate change, habitat degradation, pollution, underwater noise and collisions with ships. The group will agree on an Action Plan containing the region's most urgent priority actions. The Action Plan places emphasis on increasing capacity, awareness and understanding in the region. It outlines how communities can benefit from whale and dolphin -based tourism. Involving local communities in conservation activities is a key to the success of such an initiative. The agreement is officially referred to as the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (more commonly called the Pacific Cetaceans MoU)... more

FISHING GEAR CLUTTERS CNMI'S REMOTE MAUG : Concerns raised about marine life, environment
Pacific Islands Report - 12 August 2009
Angelo Villagomez of the Friends of the Monument, the main proponent of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, disclosed on Monday the "damaged" condition of Maug Island. Maug, by law, is part of the Marine Protected Areas of the CNMI, and is included in the three new protected marine areas in the Pacific designated by a presidential declaration last January. "Last year we talked about how pristine the water and how undamaged they were, but I actually found that there's a lot more damage to the island and the waters that we don't know about," Villagomez said, referring to Maug... more

FRENCH SCIENTISTS TO STUDY TAHITI MARINE LIFE: Aim is to document species and ocean floor
Pacific Islands Report - 6 August 2009
The French Research Development Institute (IRD) will conduct an extensive three-month oceanographic study that it claims might help "to discover new species and provide basic molecules of interest" in the French Polynesia seabed. IRD scientists will conduct the study from Thursday to October 29 aboard the oceanographic research ship Alis...more

Scientists study vast Pacific waste zone
Windsor Star - 4 August 2009
Marine scientists from California are venturing this week to the middle of the North Pacific for a study of plastic debris accumulating across hundreds of kilometres of open sea dubbed the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." A research vessel carrying a team of about 30 researchers, technicians and crew members embarked on Sunday on a three-week voyage from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, based at the University of California at San Diego. The expedition will study how much debris -- mostly tiny plastic fragments -- is collecting in an expanse of sea known as the North Pacific Ocean Gyre, how that material is distributed and how it affects marine life...more

ADB creates $2.3 m project to preserve Coral Triangle
IOSEA - 1 August 2009
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced in a statement yesterday the creation of $2.3-million technical assistance project to strengthen coastal and marine ecosystems management under the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI). The Global Environment Facility will provide a $1.2-million grant, while the ADB Regional Cooperation and Integration Fund will provide an additional $500,000 grant. The six countries participating in CTI will contribute $600,000. The project, ADB said, will help craft a sustainable resource management strategy in the area, which holds up to 75% of all known coral species in the world, 50% of reefs, 40% of the coral reef fish species and six of the seven species of marine turtle. The 5.7-million square kilometer Coral Triangle also contains marine resources critical for the economic and food security of an estimated 120 million people scattered across the six CTI member-countries: Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste.


News from FFA


FFA celebrated its 30th anniversary and some interesting reading is provided in the August edition of Islands Business (see links below). FFA also released its annual report which is available on and for the first time includes maps of activities in each member country and territory ( download from ).

Last but not least, there are several national success stories last month. Kiribati, Tuvalu and Solomon Islands recorded successes in Operation Kurukuru (see ). And Kiribati also had a success in the courts, fining a ship's master and owner for illegal activities (see )


Articles of note - a selection of recent academic literature

Compiled by Peter Murgatroyd . Articles marked with an * are available from the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via OARE [Online Access to Research in the Environment].

- August 2009

Are sea snakes pertinent bio-indicators for coral reefs? a comparison between species and sites / Brischoux, François; Bonnet, Xavier; Legagneux, Pierre. Marine Biology, Sep2009, Vol. 156 Issue 10, p1985-1992, 8p; DOI: 10.1007/s00227-009-1229-7* [*New Caledonia]

An Assessment of the Trade in Hawksbill Turtles in Papua New Guinea / Jeff Kinch and Elizabeth Burgess. TRAFFIC Bulletin Vol. 22 No. 2 (June 2009). *



* see also Latest news from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme [SPREP]

** more PEIN Resources [   ]: 

Pacific Environment Databases and Recommended Internet Resources Directory

Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Country Profiles Directory

Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Virtual Environment Libraries:
American Samoa , Cook Islands , Federated States of Micronesia , Fiji , French Polynesia , Guam , Kiribati , Marshall Islands , Nauru , New Caledonia , Niue , Northern Mariana Islands
, Palau , Papua New Guinea , Samoa , Solomon Islands , Tokelau , Tonga , Tuvalu , Vanuatu , Wallis and Futuna

Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Regional Frameworks and Strategies Directory

Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Directory of Pacific Environment Videos on YouTube 

Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Virtual Library of Lessons Learned and Best Practices in Environment Management



Compiled by Peter Murgatroyd.