Hundreds of people from all walks of life — national and local elected leaders, teachers, students, non-government groups and off-island visitors — attended this week’s three-day, first-ever National Oceans Symposium that put big picture issues about fisheries, ocean conservation, sustainability and climate on the table for talk and action.
MIMRA Director Glen Joseph said the community is “the star player” in dealing with oceans issues — and from the turnout and active participation by students and local community representatives this week, the oceans meeting generated the community response MIMRA sought when it sponsored the gathering. “Cooperative work among MIMRA, partner organizations, local governments, and local communities brought about this success,” Joseph said.
Minister Mattlan Zackhras, who chaired sessions during the meeting, said “the aim of the symposium is to establish national policy.”
President Hilda Heine keynoted the opening Monday. “The ocean is like our pantry that stores our food,” she said. “If it gets dirty, like with coral bleaching, then our food will be poisoned and damaged.” Thinking about where the RMI will be in 30 years, Heine said: “I want to stay and live on our islands, our inheritance. We love our islands and we have to protect them.”
Numerous MIMRA, other government agency and NGO officials delivered presentations during the event.
Recent research work in Majuro and outer islands has provided data to inform ocean and marine resource policy decisions by communities and the government, MIMRA Coastal Division Information Officer Benedict Yamamura told attendees.
Kilom Ishiguro, RMI Water Technical Expert and Liaison Officer, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, said the new State of the Environment report 2016 “is soon to be endorsed by Cabinet, and will provide data and support to future work” for oceans conservation and management.
Noah Idechong, of Palau, a veteran legislator, fisheries officer and conservationist who attended the summit, summed up the proceedings: “The Marshall Islands hit a home run with the Oceans Symposium.”
Read more about this in the April 7, 2017 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.