Melanesian oceans valued at PGK 176 trillion
A World Wildlife Fund report into the seas around Melanesia has calculated that its gross marine product equals the combined economies of Fiji and the Solomon Islands. David James reports.
Melanesia’s ocean assets are worth a minimum $US548 billion (PGK1.736 trillion), according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The WWF assesses the economic value by aggregating the primary assets of the ocean: marine fisheries, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass. It then adds adjacent or ancillary assets: productive coastlines (focused on tourism) and carbon absorption.
The report estimates that the annual ‘gross marine product’ of the Melanesian region (an equivalent of a country’s annual gross domestic product) is worth at least $US5.4 billion (PGK17.1 billion).
This makes it the third-largest ‘economy’ in the region.
“The ocean can be seen as a ‘shared wealth fund’, with the principal capital of the Melanesian region being eroded at a rate that undermines the ocean’s value for current and future generations,’’ the report warns.
“It is time to reset the agenda before this ocean capital base collapses,” the report says.
“The good news is that rapid action on a number of key issues will deliver benefits for ocean systems and the people who depend on them.
“Some of the benefits could be reinstated in a relatively short period of time.”
The report lists essential actions to protect the ocean assets. They include creating roadmaps and spatial planning and eco-system based approaches to resource-based management.
The report says the actual value may be considerably higher than indicated by the economic statistics. It says fishing helps people maintain a stable source of income independent of market uncertainty, and “is an important factor in social cohesion”.