Fiji deputy PM Gavoka highlights the value of oceans

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Recognising the need to unlock the economic potential of Fiji’s blue economy and catalyse ocean related private sector development, the Fiji Government, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, Wednesday marked the commencement of the Blue Accelerator Grant Scheme (BAGS) and introduced the first cohort of projects.

The launch also sought to create dialogue on enhancing Fiji’s national blue economy agenda for unlocking innovative blue finance.

In addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Viliame Gavoka highlighted that we meet against the backdrop of our pursuit for a blue economy — an economy globally valued at approximately USD$1.5 trillion per year.

“Like many other Small Island Developing States, the ocean is Fiji’s single most important resource. We rely on it for everyday sustenance. We rely on a healthy marine environment for food security, for transport between our islands and with the rest of the world. We rely on it for trade — and for tourism, our largest revenue earner,” said Gavoka.

The BAGS is the first incubator of its kind in Fiji and the Pacific – aimed to support viable investment-ready projects in the blue economy space by incubating a pipeline of transformative projects that attract and leverage private financing.

Using a combination of business development support and performance-based grant financing, the BAGS is already supporting eight transformative projects – Sustainable Aquaculture; Marine Conservation and Protection; Blue Shipping and E-mobility; Sustainable Waste Management; and Sustainable and Eco-Tourism.

“We have a growing tourism industry. In the first quarter of this year — our hotels and even national airline — are recording numbers like never before. With growing visitors and consumption comes growing demand. So, when tourists come, they need to be fed, that’s where sustained-commercial aquaculture comes. They travel between our islands, thus the need for carbon neutral transport. They produce waste, which needs proper disposal. They are more conscious and seek nature-based, authentic products,” added Minister Gavoka.

DPM Gavoka further added that by protecting ecosystems, from our reefs to the people that depend on it, Fiji can remain a pristine destination and continue to reap the benefits of a healthy ocean.

SOURCE: FIJI GOVT/PACNEWS