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.

Paradise - - Strictly Business -

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”.

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