United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


to the
Honorable Enele Sosene Sopoaga
Prime Minister
June 5th - 9th, 2017
New York
Please check against delivery
Mr. President of the General Assembly
Secretary General of the United Nations
Heads of Sates, Prince, Prime Ministers and Ministers
Co-Presidents of the Oceans Conference
Ladies and Gentleman
Co-Presidents let me take this opportunity to thank you for your commitment and
dedication in preparing the Call for Action and Voluntary Commitments, working
with the UN Secretariat and membership and all stakeholders who are committed
to collaborate in finding solutions to care for our Oceans and its biodiversity, and
to energize a holistic implementation of the SDGs through the inherent nexus with
the SDG 14.
At the outset - Tuvalu associates itself with t~e statements made by the
distinguished leaders of PSIDS, AOSIS, LDCs, and the Secretary General and
President of the General·Assembly.
Tuvalu would like to make the following contributions, to add value to that which
has been premised by our Call for Action and as noted by other Delegations.
There are two aspects of the Call for Action I would like to note. The first relates
to pollution from ships. It is our understanding! I that this includes pollution for
shipwrecks as this is an ongoing source of pollution within our region. The other
relates to the terminology around maximum sustainable yield. The language
around this term is confusing in the Call for Action. We understand that we should
aim to be more conservative with fisheries catch and that we should aim to set
catch limits below maximum sustainable yield.
It is important that the Call for Action and other outcomes of this conference are
formalised under a coordination process at the UN level.
Mr. President - like many of us from the Pacific Ocean, and Coastal States, the sea
is the basis of our peoples' livelihoods. Tuvalu can probably be characterized as
the most fisher-dependent nation on earth. Tuvalu's 24 square kilometers of land is
juxtaposed against the 27 million sq.km of the Pacific Ocean. Our economic
development, culture, traditions and spiritual values are intrinsically attached to the
Ocean and our society depends on the effective management of our marine
Tuvalu reaffirm its full support to the call to "conserve and sustainably use the
oceans, seas and marine resources as reaffirmed in Goal 14 of the SDGs."
Healthy, productive and resilient oceans are critical for sustainable economic
development, poverty eradication, livelihoods, food security and nutrition,
employment, government revenue, biodiversity and recreation.
For Tuvalu, forty percent of our annual National Budget revenue is sourced from
the Oceans ( fishing licences) especially tuna; tuna which is sourced from the
Pacific Ocean that serves two thirds of the world demand.
Mr. President we congregate here to call for the prevention and reduction of human
induced marine pollution. The ongoing commitments under UNCLOS and SDG
14 and our new voluntary commitments on the online registry underscores the
urgency for action and concrete solutions.
We are fully aware that ocean acidification and coral bleaching, marine debris
particularly from plastics, nutrients, fertilizer and industrial runoff, ghost fishingnets
are decimating reefs and marine life. These environmental hazards are
increasing the vulnerability of coastal and small island developing states. Plastic
pollution is particularly abundant and toxic to the Oceans biodiversity. Eighty
percent of all litter in the oceans are made of plastics and more than eight million
metric tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans annually. We must reduce the single
use of plastics.
We are reminded by nature that the bounties of the Ocean are not limitless; more
than 80 percent of global fish stocks are now fully or over-exploited. We must
reverse the decline of populations of threatened and endangered species.
For us in the Pacific, the fourteen Pacific Island Countries have improved
monitoring, reporting and enforcement by putting in place a regional fishing
register, and a vessel monitoring system that tracks fishing vessels around the
clock. We have worked with the World Bank led Global Partnerships for Oceans,
through our Pacific Regional Oceanscape architecture, focusing on sustainable
management of Oceanic and Coastal Fisheries, conserving critical habitats and
regional coordination, monitoring and evaluation.
In addition, Pacific Island Countries have already put in place a diverse range of
important sustainable development, management and conservation mechanisms.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) who control about 25 percent of the
world's supply of tuna have implemented a successful scheme that sell limited
number of fishing days (Vessel Day Scheme) to contracted Foreign Fishing nations
and interests. The integrated system allows the eight nations to know how much
fish is being caught and where it is being caught as provided by both vessels and
independent fisheries observers on board purse seine vessels.
Mr. President Tuvalu strongly support a timely conclusion for a legally binding
instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine
biological diversity of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
Illegal unreported and unregulated fishing steals an estimated 26 million tonnes of
fish from the oceans annually, damaging marine ecosystem and sabotaging efforts
to sustainably manage fisheries. We strongly support activities on eliminating
illegal and unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through certified catch
documentation schemes.
In our view, a serious threat to sustainable management of marine resources in the
Pacific Islands region is the continued exploitation of international waters by
fishing fleets.
Harmful fishing subsidies contribute to overfishing and are estimated to be as high
as $35 billion as confirmed by the UNCTAD. These subsidies must be addressed
expeditiously by the UN and its relevant Oceans bodies. Countries must provide
transparent information on what subsidies they provide in order to curb incentives
to overfish and giving differential treatment to developing countries.
Mr. President our Oceans are warming up. The Ocean plays a central role in
Earth's climate, absorbing over 90% of the heat added to the global climate system
through the greenhouse effect.
Ocean warming leads to coral bleaching and sea level rise. Both of these effects
threaten the livelihoods of all Tuvaluans. We must accelerate efforts to reduce
greenhouse gas em1ss1ons. No country should walk away from the Paris
Mr. President we fully support the conservation of coastal and marine areas by
establishing more Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Tuvalu has committed to
establishing 10% of its Economic Exclusion Zone as marine protected areas.
Conserving and restoring marine biodiversity through MP As will assist in
regenerating endangered fisheries and ecosystems, thus regularizing long term
dividends. MP As can act as an insurance policy if other types of fisheries
management do not work. They can attract tourists and provide alternative
livelihoods for communities and can be educational sites.
The Means of Implementation of all SDGs including SDG 14 should be spelt out
in our activities, including the financing, capacity building and technology transfer.
Partnerships should pay close attention to ongoing programs; successes stories
must be shared to ensure the diversity and specific needs of individual countries on
protecting the Oceans are amicably addressed. Capacity development at the
national level in marine scientific research is a precondition for understanding and
preserving the ocean, its environment and the many resources and benefits it
renders with interest.
A healthy ocean is a healthy planet, and a healthy planet is absolutely vital for the
well-being of successive generations. Whether in eradicating poverty or regulating
the climate, the bottom line is that the ocean matters. Addressing the health of the
oceans, and all its relevant objectives and targets, must be based on ways that are
inclusive and grounded on an integrated scientific and human rights framework
that addresses inequalities, amongst individuals and amongst nations. -
If we have created these problems to our Oceans, we must have human solution to
reverse the woes humanity has put upon the oceans. We are all accountable as coowners
and co-inhabitants on this planet of whose blood is blue.
I thank you Mr. President.
Tuvalu mo te Atua.