As a small island nation, we are acutely aware of the importance of our mangrove forests and the vital role they play in protecting our coastal communities and marine ecosystems.
Collaboration from other partners and organizations is fundamental to ensure that we are working towards a common goal of safeguarding our vulnerable mangrove ecosystem for our people.
These were the remarks of the Assistant Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Sakiusa Tubuna whilst delivering his opening address at the Interdepartmental Workshop on Mangrove Governance and Regulation at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva today (08.05.23).
The workshop is co-facilitated by the Department of Environment and the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources and Dr. Padma Lal.
Hon. Tubuna said the aim of the workshop was to bring together government agencies with a mandate over mangrove and all key partners and non-government organizations to discuss key aspects of mangroves. The overall objective is to urgently adopt a comprehensive whole of government to the use and management of mangroves in Fiji.
In the Pacific Region, Fiji has the third largest mangrove, behind Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“Due to the many threats mangroves is subjected to that is driven by land conversion for aquaculture, tourism, coastal development, pollution and over exploitation of mangrove resources (to name a few), the mangrove ecosystem are one of the most vulnerable from being exploited and converted to other uses,” Hon. Tubuna stated.
“As such, it is utmost important to strike the balance between development and conservation to make clear an informed evidence-based decisions.
“The People’s Coalition Government through the Department of Environment recognizes the many challenges faced with mangrove management and protection in Fiji and has taken a proactive lead to engage all stakeholders through series of public national consultations Fiji wide towards drafting Fiji’s Environment Management (Mangrove Conservation and Management) Regulations,” Hon Tubuna added.
Hon. Tubuna also acknowledged the partnership with WWF Pacific through its Bezos Funding in supporting the Department of Environment in the development of the Mangrove Regulation; and for funding the Interdepartmental Workshop.
“We all recognize the importance of strategic partnerships and effective communications to improve national understanding and appreciation for mangroves; hence it is our plea as Environmental Managers to start viewing these natural resources as our ‘Natural Capital’. If we lose it, it is gone forever,” Hon Tubuna stated.
In addition, the interdepartmental Workshop is organised, as a first step, to “walk the talk’ and implement the key outcome from the National Economic Summit, NES Communique and key resolutions, and improve the governance of mangroves and associated foreshore resources for a balanced conservation and development goals.