In partnership with SPREP, the Marine Programme of IUCN Oceania continues to provide technical support and policy advice to in-country partners in Fiji and the Solomon Islands to support their efforts to sustainably manage their vast Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). IUCN promotes Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) as a tool for integrated ocean management to allow for an inter-sectoral and participatory public process for identifying and achieving economic, social and ecological objectives in a transparent and organised way. This draws on the MSP toolkit for the Pacific, co-developed by IUCN: a 10-step process to a healthier and stronger ocean economy.
A crucial step in the planning process is to prepare a draft MSP with a Marine Protected Area (MPA) network design for public consultations. With funding support from the By-catch and Integrated Ecosystem Management Initiative, IUCN has supported Fiji and the Solomon Islands to complete theirs. The consultations, involving technical committees within Government in partnership with other agencies and local NGOs, are different for each country in terms of how they engage the general public. For the Solomon Islands, the consultation teams were deployed to the provinces and outer islands and in Fiji, the meetings were held in three of the four divisions (central, northern and western). Other specific consultations with fishing industries were conducted separately, particularly for offshore areas to discuss fisheries interests and MPAs. Feedback from the Fiji consultations were reviewed by in-country Government-led technical committees, whilst the Solomon Islands is going through several phases of review in-country to revise public inputs, discuss within government established committees and finalise their draft national MSP.
This is best practice integrated ocean management as these countries strive to achieve a sustainable blue future for their people and forthcoming generations.
Ocean Planning Team Leaders conduct Ocean Planning Writeshop, Tulagi, Central Islands Province, Solomon Islands.
Fifteen team leaders for the nation-wide ocean planning consultations gathered for a three-day write-shop in Tulagi, Central Islands Province, from 4-6 August 2021. The objective of the write-shop was to bring together these team leaders who led the first and second round nationwide MSP consultations to 1) review all nine provincial field reports from the second round of public consultations on the zero draft maps and develop a synthesis report, and 2) to review the feedback and maps from the consultations and consolidate the findings for inputs into the development of the marine spatial plan.
“The write-shop was exciting yet challenging. We had started this second round of consultations in October 2020 and only managed to complete six provinces then. We continued in 2021 to complete consultations in the remaining three provinces – Isabel, Rennell and Bellona and Western Province. We have yet to complete government-level consultations with a few government ministries in Honiara. I believe that by bringing together the team leaders, we were able to reflect and discuss stories by our people about our ocean,” said Mr Christian Manepolo, the National Coordinator of the MSP Program.
The basis of developing a draft national ocean plan is the outcome of a series of technical Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and prioritisation analyses with the inclusion of data from national and community consultations and input from experts over the last -four years.
Mr. Hans Wendt, Marine Programme Coordinator at IUCN said, “The GIS technical team has been profoundly honoured to be engaged in the MSP process for the Solomon Islands and providing spatial support during the write-shop.”
The MSP process is a key component of the Solomon Islands National Ocean Policy (SINOP) that was developed by the Ocean12 Committee through a cross-sectoral approach, completed and launched in 2019 and now being overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade. Ocean12 is an intergovernmental body comprising representatives from 12 key ministries, which have direct links in their ocean policy frameworks and legislation. Ocean12 over the years has been involved in discussing key priorities for effective ocean management and ocean affairs in the Solomon Islands during a period of ever-increasing demand for ocean space and marine resources.
To ensure that an inclusive and robust marine spatial planning process is undertaken, the Government, through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources set up a dedicated team, comprising of Ocean12 government officers and partners to conduct intensive nation-wide consultations involving all stakeholders.
“As Solomon Islanders, our interest in and for the ocean will not end, as most of us depend largely on the ocean for our livelihood and survival. However, the increasing threat the ocean has suffered is huge and does not link to a single factor. As such, the national government is working closely with all key stakeholders to manage its ocean space and resources in order to balance social, environment and economic use while maximizing the benefits from the ocean. I am pleased to be part of our exciting ocean story and journey”, said Mr. Heartly Tepai, a member of the ocean planning team.
The write shop was concluded on 6 August with the aim to submit provincial consultation reports to the Ocean12 that will inform the next stages of the development of the Ocean Plan.