Six Asia-Pacific countries, Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Malaysia, agreed Friday on a wide-ranging plan to protect one of the world's largest networks of coral reefs, promising to reduce pollution, eliminate overfishing and improve the livelihoods of impoverished coastal communities.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines, Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta of Timor Leste, Prime Minister Michael Somare of Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Derek Sikua of Solomon Islands and Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia launched the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security at their one-day summit in Manado.
They adopted the 10-year Regional CTI Plan of Action, which is not legally binding but sets time limits to address growing threats to the region's coral reefs, fisheries, mangroves, threatened species and other marine and coastal living resources.
Southeast Asia’s Coral Triangle is an area spanning 1.6 billion acres, accounts for a third of the world's coral reefs and 35 percent of coral reef fish species.
The agreement was reached at the World Ocean Conference, and several other governments committed money to the voluntary management plan, including the United States, which pledged $40 million over five years.
The agreement follows a symbolic memorandum signed earlier in the meeting by government officials from 80 countries. It calls for improved efforts to protect oceans from overdevelopment and illegal fishing.
Much of the discussion has focused on the vital role seas play in absorbing greenhouse gas emissions and how they are affected when higher temperatures melt polar ice sheets, cause sea levels to rise and fuel devastating and more frequent storms.
Other countries that pledged money ranging from the sums of $1.7 million to $5 million included Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Australia, among others.
"This starting pledge is the first proof that all these countries intend to follow through with action," Indonesia's Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Freddy Numberi told reporters.
President Yudhoyono also announced that his government intends to designate 20 million hectares of marine protected areas across Indonesia by 2010. This week, Indonesia formally established the Savu Sea National Marine Fisheries Sanctuary, covering some 3.9 million hectares in the southern seas of Indonesia, bordering Timor-Leste.
Over the next three years, the Indonesian government will seek a doubling of the current national budget dedicated to specific programs and activities stipulated in the CTI Regional Plan of Action.
President Yudhoyono also announced Indonesia's offer to be the host of a permanent CTI Secretariat to support the implementation of the action plan. "If the other Coral Triangle countries accept this offer, we are prepared to provide full financial support for the day-to-day operations of the secretariat," he said.
AP, Asia-Pacific nations agree to protect reef network , 15 May 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iSUN0r9EnsgSkdGCaJmUnL...
Global Nation, Arroyo, 5 leaders vow to save Coral Triangle , 17 May 2009, http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/news/view/20090516-205330/Arroyo-5...
Environment News Service, Six Nations Pledge to Safeguard Coral Triangle , 15 May 2009, http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2009/2009-05-15-02.asp