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The Pacific Ocean is the largest single geographic feature on our planet. It represents half the world’s ocean area, occupies one-third of the earth’s surface, and helps support complex ecosystems, ocean-based economies, and hundreds of millions of people.
That is directly quoted from the Center for Ocean Solutions which is affiliated to Stanford University:
The Pacific is also the engine room of Earth’s climate and the storeroom of its ocean biodiversity.
However, the people from around the Pacific Ocean, from the Arctic to Antarctic, from countries populous and sparse, are witnessing a decline of the Pacific Ocean’s vast resources and in the ability to use those resources. Pollution, habitat destruction, overfishing, climate change, and invasive species emerge repeatedly as the major causes. These threats interact with each other to damage natural ecosystems, reduce biological and human economic diversity, destroy productivity, and encumber human use of the sea.
(Center for Ocean Solutions, USA)
It identifies the following threats to the Pacific Ocean:
We hope others, in and outside of the South Pacific region, will take up the challenge and write about these threats to our environment and survival, particularly for small island nations. Due to scarce resources and available time, we aren’t able to do justice in covering these stories . Wish we could. For example, do people, other than governments and environmental groups, in the Pacific region realise the impact of overfishing for the region? I think not. What role have island governments played in protecting those assets? Can they? This is a big business story, not just a marine story. Who are the biggest contributors to the depletion of these natural marine resources? And what role is international legislation doing, or not doing, to protect the vast resources of the Pacific Ocean.
To give us a perspective of sizes, look at a map of the oceans of the world. The smallest is the Arctic Ocean, followed by the Indian Ocean, then the North and South Atlantic Ocean. Then there’s the North and South Pacific Ocean. Yes, it is the largest biggest ocean out there. It covers a wider geographical area bigger than all the other oceans combined.
We hoped to bring you information direct from Fiji’s Meteorology Centre but we are having trouble opening its page in a timely way. This morning’s update from Fiji Times
Update: 9:19AM HURRICANE Tomas, the Category 4 Tropical Cyclone (TC), is on its final 12 hours of intensity, and is currently hammering the Lau Group.
The eye and core feature of the cyclone with destructive Storm Force to very destructive Hurricane force winds are now moving over Northern Lau Group and are expected to affect Central and Southern Lau later, said director of meteorology, Rajendra Prasad in a brief issued at 9am today.
The Northern division which has been pounded by hurricane force winds and effects since Sunday evening should now see winds decreasing slowly today with rain easing, he said.
In the Central division, including the capital city Suva, damaging gale force winds with gusts to 85km/hr can be expected today with periods of rain.
Mr Prasad said some flash flooding was possible in the Central division but not on a large scale.
FIFA World Cup winner and former Real Madrid star Christian Karembeu has today arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, and will play a major role in this week’s inaugural Pacific Youth and Sports Conference (PYASC).
Hailing from Lifou in New Caledonia, Karembeu enjoyed a glittering 18-year career that included 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000 successes with France, and two UEFA Champions League titles with Real Madrid.
Karembeu will be involved in the traditional Maori Powhiri on Monday morning before speaking the following day on the topic of fair play.
Organised by Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) together with the Manukau City Council, the PYASC conference will bring together hundreds of 16-25 year olds from across the Pacific region to interact and address youth-related issues with a specific focus on sport.
Tai Nicholas, OFC General Secretary and PYASC Chairman, believes the two-time Oceania Player of the Year will provide plenty of inspiration for young people who attend the event.
“Karembeu has an amazing story. From humble beginnings growing up in New Caledonia, he went on to reach the pinnacle of his sport and played at the top level for almost two decades,” says Nicholas.
“Since retiring, Karembeu has actively served as an ambassador for the game, showing that the power of football can be used to help those less privileged. We are delighted he can attend the conference and look forward to hearing his powerful message.”
Although based in Europe, Karembeu says his Pacific roots are extremely important to him.
“I played for France and won many medals and I am proud of the team and what we achieved together. But I am also Oceanian, born in the South Pacific, and it is logical for me to acknowledge this part of my heritage and speak to young people about my experiences so that hopefully they can be inspired to achieve their dreams,” says Karembeu.
Consisting of workshops, seminars and roundtables, the Pacific Youth and Sports Conference aims to establish action plans that will increase participation of young people in society through sport and build stronger networks between youth associations, government institutions and sports organisations.
To download the complete programme [English] click here
Reported earlier today by Fiji Times.
A WOMAN sacrificed her life to save her sisters and two children when huge waves swept them three metres from the beach to sea as Hurricane Tomas bore down on Fiji.
Tamarisi Tabua, 31, was hailed a hero as her family huddled in grief and took cover from torrential rain and wind brought on by the category three hurricane, which was expected to reach the north-eastern part of Vanua Levu this morning with wind speeds of up to 220km per hour.
Ms Tabua was with her sisters Mereula and Alanieta Evans, nephew Mesake, 10, and niece Fulori, 4, when waves swept them into Namilamila Bay in Ucunivatu, Cakaudrove on Vanua Levu, on Saturday.
Alanieta, a former national netballer on holiday here from England, said they would have died if it had not been for her sister.
GNS Science New Zealand
NZ SCIENTISTS GATHER INFORMATION FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
Geologists from GNS Science will spend the next six months collecting information on buildings and infrastructure in Pacific Island countries to measure vulnerability and risk from earthquakes and cyclones in the southwest Pacific.
The project is part of a joint initiative involving the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank Regional Partnership for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Preparedness.
The Asian Development Bank has contracted GNS Science to carry out the work over the next two years in association with the Pacific Disaster Center and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), based in Fiji.
The work will be carried out in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The data collection will start in the Cook Islands in February 2010 and finish in Tonga in September 2010. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in September 2011.
Project leader, Phil Glassey of GNS Science, said they will be collecting existing building, road, pipeline, and utility network data held by the countries. Where this is lacking, they will collect it by field survey, concentrating on the major urban areas.
“The field data collection will involve staff from each of the country governments using hand-held computers with integrated camera and GPS,” Mr Glassey said.
“The location of many of the assets will be captured using satellite imagery, prior to data collection in the field.”
Mr Glassey said data would be collected in a form that could be used in any Geographic Information System (GIS) to ensure it had maximum utility for the project and for the countries involved.
“Data for each country will be retained by the country with a regional database held and maintained by SOPAC. The data will help local and regional decision-making processes and support greater resilience to the impacts of natural disasters and climate change.
“The data will also be a critical input into the assessment of a regional catastrophe fund – a related World Bank project.”
The project stems from a similar undertaking in New Zealand called Regional RiskScape, which is a joint venture involving GNS Science and NIWA. Regional RiskScape is a computer analysis tool that converts natural hazard exposure information for a region into damage and replacement costs, casualties, economic losses, and number of people affected.
An earthquake measuring 5.0 struck in Fiordland this morning.
GNS Science reported the 8.55am quake as being centred 80km west of Te Anau at a focal depth of 7km.
It was likely to have been felt in Fiordland and possibly western Southland.
A $5.5 million reconstruction package for the Cook island of Aitutaki, which was devastated by Cyclone Pat, was announced today by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.
Cyclone Pat ripped through the Cooks last month, causing severe damage on Aitutaki.
“Around 80 per cent of the houses on the island were affected in some way, and 72 were completely destroyed,” Mr McCully said today.
“Tourism on Aitutaki is a vital income source for the Cook Islands. Our assistance will help get things back to ‘business as usual’ as quickly as possible, and ensure the economy does not suffer long-term effects.”
New Zealand had already provided $350,000 for emergency relief efforts, while a RNZAF C-130 Hercules and engineering team supported local efforts in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone.
“We are now addressing the longer-term reconstruction needs through a substantial contribution to the Cook Islands Government’s reconstruction plan,” Mr McCully said.
The Hon Tariana Turia – Maori Party MP for Te Tai Hauauru Te Ururoa Flavell – Maori Party Spokesperson for Conservation
March 9, 2010
Trapping better than 1080 drops says Maori Party
Land and water are being poisoned by 1080 and the Government needs to seriously consider running a large scale trapping programme as an alternative, says the Maori Party.
“The use of 1080 is causing damage to our land, rivers and lakes and that should be reason enough for the Government to find another way,” Maori Party conservation spokesperson Te Ururoa Flavell said in response to the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday that there was “no other alternative.”
“Using people to trap pests is an idea we are looking at as it would keep our land, rivers and lakes safe for future generations and there would be economic, employment and training spin-offs as well, particularly for unemployed Maori.”
Mr Flavell said some people were already trapping, but that it was not being done on the large-scale that was needed.
Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Hauauru, was particularly annoyed to hear of the recent incident where 1080 pellets were dropped on Maunga Taranaki where contractors were trapping at the time.
“Maunga Taranaki is sacred to my constituents so you can imagine their anguish when they heard that poison had been dropped on the head of their ancestor.”
Mrs Turia said there was high demand overseas for possum fur and skin, and that the Government could look at this as a way of subsidising a large-scale trapping programme and generating tax revenue from an industry that had not been tapped into.
“The Government needs to start doing its maths. There are about 70 million possums in this country and their fur alone is worth about $5 each,” she said.
The Maori Party had plans to talk with the ministers for conservation and social development and employment about the trapping idea.
It was one of the Maori Party policies to have a moratorium on 1080 drops.