Small island livelihoods and culture are inseparable from the ocean around them.

Artisanal fishing is the cornerstone of local food security. Their majestic coral reefs are the foundation of some of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world and are a main driver of tourism to their countries. This has led some island representatives to call their countries Large Ocean States.

However, climate change and ocean acidification will place these ecosystems under increasing stress over the coming decades, but they are not the only threats. Marine pollution in the form of sewage, agricultural and urban runoff, plastic debris, and oil spills also damages coral and other marine organisms. Meanwhile, overfishing and destructive fishing practices commonly used by the industrial fishing nations undermine the ability of Pacific Islands to manage their fisheries sustainably.

Islands First is supporting small island representatives at the United Nations in their effort to protect their rich ocean heritage and to build the resilience of their marine ecosystems. This collaboration has made exciting progress, for example:

  • The Pacific Islands successfully introduced sweeping measures to curtail the use of bottom trawling, an odious fishing practice that involves dragging heavily weighted fishing nets along the sea floor and can turn entire coral reefs to rubble.
  • The Pacific Islands made healthy oceans and marine ecosystem resilience a central focus of the third Earth Summit, also known as Rio+20.
  • The Pacific Islands have been successfully advocating for a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on healthy oceans.  The SDGs are intended to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) when they expire this year, and will set the international sustainable development agenda for the next generation.  
  • The Pacific Islands are pushing for a new agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to protect marine biodiversity in international waters. Currently, commercial exploitation of the ocean beyond countries’ exclusive economic zone is largely unregulated. 

If you believe that the oceans, and all the rich biodiversity within them, is worth protecting for future generations, then please consider making a tax deductible donation to Islands First.