07th April, 2017 Eleven (11) countries signed the “Pacific Islands Year of the Whale Declaration 2016/17” to mark the end of the Whales in a Changing Ocean Conference this afternoon at Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, Nuku’alofa.
Countries that signed the declaration included Tonga, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Tuvalu, Palau, Fiji, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisheries, Hon. Semisi Fakahau signed the Declaration on behalf of the Government of Tonga while Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister Hon Fiame Mataafa signed on behalf of her nation and Cook Islands Minister for Environment Hon Kiriau Tuperu for Cook Islands.
The rest of the signatories were Senior Government Officials who signed the new declaration on behalf of their respective countries.
The declaration amongst other issues:
- Recognize that lost and abandoned fishing gear is one of the greatest harmful forms of marine debris for whales. Prompt action is needed to prevent and reduce marine pollution.
- commend SPREP’s commitment to formulate a Whale and Dolphin Action Plan 2018 – 2023 as the basis of the conservation activities
- Request specialists who attended the conference to work with SPREP to draft a Whale and Dolphin Action Plan for review and authorization at SPREP’s Annual Meeting in September this year.
The declaration will remain open for signature until December 31, 2017.
Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Climate Change and Communications