The Government has announced a $25 million partnership with the Pacific Community (SPC) to combat the threat of climate change to tuna, the most economically significant natural resource in the Pacific.
“Climate change is a very real threat here and abroad, particularly in the Pacific. It’s a global challenge that’ll require global solidarity,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Associate Foreign Affairs (Pacific) Minister, Carmel Sepuloni.
“We’re seeing communities in Aotearoa New Zealand grapple with the impending effects of climate change — a microcosm of what our Pacific region whānau are facing. We know that some of the greatest climate change issues we face are those that reach across national borders.
“While continuing to address immediate challenges here at home, we must also continue to look after our important regional relationships and take action now to combat climate change collectively.”
Minister Sepuloni said the impact of climate change on tuna was a regional concern and required a collective and coordinated response.
The $25 million Pacific regional partnership fund will provide critical support for Pacific countries to protect their economic futures through the preservation of their tuna fisheries, she said.
“The Climate Science for Ensuring Pacific Tuna Access partnership is the first step in developing a Pacific-owned advanced warning system to forecast, with cutting-edge accuracy, where tuna will move due to ocean warming,” said SPC’s Director General, Dr Stuart Minchin.
“It will support Pacific countries to proactively monitor and manage their fisheries, and pinpoint this climate change-induced tuna migration. It will also put Pacific Island nations at the forefront of fisheries monitoring, enabling them to negotiate ongoing access to this vital resource and build sustainable fishing industries for the region’s food security,” he said.
It is predicted the region could lose up to US$90 million per year by 2050 in government revenues — while some individual countries, particularly in Micronesia, face losing over 10 percent of their annual income.
“New Zealand supports Pacific-led solutions to shared challenges, and recognises the value of delivering these solutions through regional organisations, such as the SPC,” Ms Sepuloni said.
“This tuna initiative reflects our approach to climate action in the region: we team up with regional agencies to support Pacific priorities, while at the same time encouraging others to commit finance to achieve even greater impact.
“We are very pleased to be in the company of other organisations such as the Green Climate Fund and Conservation International, which have signalled they will provide complementary support on this important issue.
“We are all facing the harsh reality of climate change, and New Zealand will continue to look out for our whānau in the Pacific, even as we address our own climate-related emergencies,” the Minister said.
New Zealand’s NZ$25 million support for the Climate Science for Ensuring Pacific Tuna Access partnership comes from the international climate finance commitment for 2022–2025, announced in 2021.