Facing challenges to coral reefs across the Pacific
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is the Australian Government’s lead management agency for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and it is our responsibility to protect and manage this World Heritage site to be enjoyed by current and future generations.
The Australian Government’s Reef Protection Package included investment for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Reef Authority) to significantly strengthen and enhance its capacity to manage and protect the outstanding universal values of the World Heritage property.
A component of the investment was allocated to leadership exchange and capacity building, from which the idea for a Pacific Coral Reef Collective forum evolved.
The Pacific Coral Reef Action Plan 2021–2030 (the Plan) was developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with members, coral reef scientists and conservationists globally.
Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme members endorsed the Plan at the 30th Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme Meeting in 2021, and at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, the Reef Authority committed to assisting Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in implementing the Plan.
- The Plan intends to focus the region’s coral-reef conservation and management on four priorities:
- conservation of habitats and biodiversity
- sustainable fisheries and food security
- resilience and adaptation to climate change
- sustainable tourism.
The Pacific Coral Reef Collective brought together reef managers and designated partners from 14 Pacific countries (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme Pacific members) to address shared challenges facing coral reefs and explore the innovative solutions being implemented to improve reef resilience.
Harnessing the power of the collective to share experiences and success stories and to progress future collaborative opportunities was a crucial part of the forum.
Participating countries included Samoa, Papua New Guinea, American Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Palau, New Caledonia, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru and Federated States of Micronesia.
The diverse program of actions across the Pacific and on the Great Barrier Reef to strengthen reef resilience and reduce cumulative impacts provided a stimulating context for discussion between participants about how we can better protect our precious marine ecosystems.
Throughout the Pacific Coral Reef Collective, the Reef Authority, in collaboration with its partners, showcased several of its programs that deliver against the agency’s purpose to “provide for the long-term protection, ecologically sustainable use, understanding and enjoyment of the Great Barrier Reef for all Australians and the international community through the care and development of the Marine Park”.
Most notably, the partnerships that underpin the programs are critical to their success.
Delegates could consider how similar programs and partnerships could be established within their context.
Through Talanoa, delegates identified the programs/ initiatives they would like to explore the opportunity for further knowledge sharing, capacity building and investment.
Representatives from each country were given five voting dots to indicate their level of interest in the programs showcased
- The areas of most significant interest identified by representatives were:
- Standardised approach to reef health monitoring and a Pacific-wide reef knowledge system that enables easy access to data
- Protected area compliance
- Site-scale reef rehabilitation projects/techniques
- High standard tourism operations – site stewardship framework and plans.
Reflections - Thoughts - Feelings
Delegates expressed their desire that the forum will be just the beginning of a conversation and a commitment to continue working together, sharing knowledge and building capacity.
Delegates were asked to write down the first words that came to mind when asked to describe their experience at the Pacific Coral Reef Collective.
What our delegates said
“I think that week progressed our work on corals in the Pacific more than any singular action taken so far. It galvanised the region’s view on what is possible for reef management. We came out with four very credible and linked business cases presenting a clear way forward. I believe that everyone involved came out so much richer.” Peter Davies, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
“I would like to extend my special thanks to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for hosting this event. The array of incredible activities and presentations during the event allowed us to gain deeper insights into the monitoring and conservation strategies. The knowledge gained and connections made will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our ongoing efforts towards coral reef preservation. I would like to express my utmost appreciation for allowing me to participate in the forum.” Kirisos Victus, Federated States of Micronesia
“I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for the exceptional organization of this committee. It was truly a remarkable experience, and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to participate and work with you guys about the protection, management, and monitoring of coral reefs in the Pacific. The knowledge-sharing and exchanges with colleagues from the Pacific Islands have been successful. Working together on coral reef conservation has been a pleasure, and I genuinely appreciate the dedication and passion demonstrated by everyone involved. The commitment to safeguarding our precious marine ecosystems is commendable, and I am thrilled to have contributed to this collective effort.” Maele Brisset, New Caledonia
“Faafetai teel lava for having us all. The overall program was well coordinated, and it was a really productive week. So much information learned and looking forward to more collectives and collaborations like this.” Fimareti Selu, Samoa
“The forum has been an eye-opening opportunity and most importantly networking.” Temukisa Pesega Siale, Tuvalu
“I would like to thank the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for this amazing forum. It is a wakeup call to Kirrimati Island. I hope to follow up connections with technical expertise who can come to my island and assess, monitor and assist with coral reef monitoring and restoration.”
Max Peter, Kiribati
“The collective has improved how I prioritise community engagement towards management. I realise how engaging and dedicating more time to include traditional leaders in management actions and activities.” Dua Rudolph, Marshall Islands