Sio looks back to the Dawn Raids – but (more grimly) he addresses the implications for the Pacific of ocean changes

Ministers hadn’t finished their outpouring of Covid-related announcements, when Point of Order posted its update on news from The Beehive on  Friday.

Before the day was done, businesses were being reminded of a corporate welfare programme named Resurgence Support Payments, and more Covid news flowed during the weekend, including the news we will be shipping in more Pfizer vaccine from Denmark.

Two further announcements harked back to the past – the PM’s acknowledgement of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and an announcement of details of scholarships described as a goodwill gesture that follows the Government’s apology for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s.

The scholarship details were released by Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio.

But more much critical for the future of Pacific islands than governmental breast-beating about events several decades ago was the sobering information in a speech Sio delivered to South Pacific Regional Environment Programme ministers.

“The new science released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 8 August paints an alarming picture of the projected impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable countries, including in the Pacific.

“The Kainaki II Declaration confirms the grave threat that climate change poses to the Pacific region.”

Sio said the COP26 in November would provide an opportunity to advance some of the particular issues within the ocean-climate change nexus facing the Pacific.

He focused on three issues:  Maritime boundaries; ocean acidification; and the impact of climate change on tuna fisheries.

His full speech has been posted on  …

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Details of the ‘Manaaki New Zealand Short Term Training Scholarships’, a goodwill gesture that follows the Government’s apology for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s, were released today by Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio.

In his speech to the SPREP ministers, Sio said greenhouse gas emissions are driving significant, adverse impacts on the ocean, its biodiversity and its ecosystems.

“The need to reduce emissions is clear. We also know we need a healthy ocean for a healthy planet. 

“At the same time, the reality of a changing climate means action to build adaptation and resilience is equally urgent.

“In New Zealand and all of the Blue Pacific, livelihoods and cultures are closely linked to ocean conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources.

“Our economies and many jobs rely heavily on the ocean, through fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and shipping.

“But the ocean is under threat on multiple fronts. Climate change, ongoing loss of biodiversity and threats to the marine environment and species, such as plastic litter and ocean acidification, all need to be addressed.”

Ocean acidification and warming was worsening and spreading deeper into the ocean, profoundly affecting Pacific food security, economic and environment resilience, and culture, Sio ominously declared.

Ocean acidification will significantly affect coral growth, habitats for fisheries, marine turtles and dugong, tourism and resilience to storm surges.

Even limiting warming to the 1.5°C target sould likely result in substantial declines in coral reefs due to acidification and bleaching.

Acidification also means shelled animals – such as abalone, mussels and cockles – will have trouble building and maintaining shells.

New Zealand supports the ‘New Zealand-Pacific Partnership on Ocean Acidification’, which aims to build resilience in the Pacific region through practical adaptation actions, research and monitoring, and raising awareness.

Reducing other stresses will help the marine environment to cope with ocean acidification, Sio said.

Climate change also threatens to undermine offshore fisheries. Ocean warming may cause tuna to migrate out of Pacific exclusive economic zones and into international waters.

Sio cited recent research  which predicts that under a high-emissions scenario, government revenue from tuna fisheries in the Pacific could decline by US$90 million a year by 2050. The increase of tuna in international waters would also increase the risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Sio wrapped up:

“The issues confronting our ocean, especially climate change, require holistic and integrated action. For our Pacific Region, this action is urgent.

“For New Zealand, this means a wide-ranging work programme. Among other things, we are working to reform our marine protected areas legislation, imbedding indigenous knowledge and marine management approaches, banning plastic microbeads and single-use plastic bags, and supporting climate action to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius.”

It also meant working in partnership with others to mitigate the effects of climate change, while building the ecosystem resilience necessary to give our Blue Pacific Ocean the best opportunity to adapt.

2 thoughts on “Sio looks back to the Dawn Raids – but (more grimly) he addresses the implications for the Pacific of ocean changes

  1. The bad news (only bad for alarmists, of course) comes in a study by Virginie Duvat of the University of La Rochelle-CNRS, France, titled ‘A global assessment of atoll island planform changes over the past decades’.

    It surveyed 30 Pacific and Indian Ocean atolls, including 709 islands, and found that 90 percent have either remained stable or have grown in the last few decades.


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