News | 22 Feb, 2024

Kiribati launch Marine Spatial Planning with Pacific BioScapes

With vast ocean resources under its care, Kiribati is determined to manage them responsibly through marine spatial planning (MSP).

"As a country with one of the largest EEZs in the world, proper planning and management of this resource through MSP is absolutely vital,” said Secretary Abeta.

Mr. Riibeta Abeta, Secretary for the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Development, emphasised this crucial point during the Pacific Biodiversity and Sustainable Land-Seascapes Programme (Pacific BioScapes) first inception meeting in Tarawa, Kiribati on 13 February, 2024.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Abeta acknowledged the collaborative nature of the endeavour and expressed gratitude to partners like the Pacific BioScapes Programme, the European Union (EU), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Oceania Regional Office (IUCN ORO), for their leadership and expertise.

The workshop aimed to educate participants on Marine Spatial Planning in Oceania and its application to Kiribati, as Mr. Abeta noted, "Today is about learning and understanding the better pathway for Kiribati on Marine Spatial Planning and how we chart our journey together."

While recognising the importance of fisheries for food security and economic development, Mr. Abeta said that the ideal MSP should balance the delicate act of utilising our ocean resources sustainably while conserving them for generations to come.

Mr. Abeta stressed the importance of keeping fisheries front and centre in the MSP plan, considering their vital role in both feeding communities and powering the economy. “This includes establishing effective management and conservation measures to ensure their long-term sustainability.”

IUCN Marine Programme Coordinator, Dr. James Slogan, during his presentations, also reiterated the importance of supporting the implementation of MSP in Kiribati and outlined a standardised 10 step process published by IUCN to work through the complex process.

The IUCN Oceania team has created a tool kit for MSP in Oceania, which consists of 10 steps to guide the planning process. The team has expertise in MSP in Oceania and has undertaken projects in several countries including Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa. Currently, the team is working on MSP projects in Cook Islands, Kiribati, and Solomon Islands,” Dr. Slogan stated.

He also said Kiribati is not new to the process and has put considerable resources into gaining political and financial support for the process, evaluating Kiribati’s marine resources, mapping its marine bioregions, and establishing marine zoning. The goal of BioScapes Project is to support Kiribati to formalise a MSP to guide future marine resource planning.

The EUR 12million Pacific BioScapes Programme is a European Union funded action, managed, and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment which aims at effectively managing our coastal and marine resources and adapting to climate change through ecosystem-based responses. For Kiribati, it aims to support marine spatial planning as well as protecting seabird habitat through invasive species eradication on Kiritimati Island, a component led by the IUCN Oceania Regional Office.

Around 25 representatives from various governments including the President’s office, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD), Ministry of Information, Communications, and Transport (MICT), Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development (MFMRD), SPREP, local Fishers, NGO stakeholders, and partners convened for this meeting.