The EU-Pacific Policy Dialogue Roundtable on the Ocean Programme concluded on Friday with a strong emphasis on bolstering ocean governance and effective policy implementation.

Pacific Ocean Commissioner Dr Filimon Manoni expressed gratitude towards the European Union and the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme for the invitation, highlighting the recent discussions with EU Commissioner for the Environment, Ocean, and Fisheries, Virginijus Senkevicius.

“We discussed our next regional steps on BBNJ implementation, as well as the much-anticipated signature of the EU-ACP Partnership Agreement and Regional Protocols to be finalised in Samoa in November,” he said.

The newly formed EU-ACP Partnership Agreement and Pacific regional protocol align with the Forum Leaders’ endorsed 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific, recognising the ocean as a fundamental pillar for the Pacific region, which consists of 96 percent ocean.

“Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting the Head of EU Delegation, Ambassador Barbara Plinkert and we discussed the importance of this meeting to take stock on how well things are progressing and what can be improved. These will no doubt be crucial in view of developing the future EU regional ocean programme in the Pacific 2025-2030,” he said.

Dr Manoni highlighted two key areas of focus: policy implementation and ocean governance.

“PEUMP has indeed ushered a positive example of effective coordination. We have heard and witnessed the success stories from technical support to develop capacity and capability for our national governments, including for areas related to ocean governance, ocean science and research, oceanic and coastal fisheries, as well as protection and restauration of marine ecosystems. These are critical areas of work and focus.

“At the same time, we must also not lose sight of the direction which is set through our ocean priorities. At times the vastness of our ocean can be overwhelming. And that is why we must ensure that as we traverse this vast ocean, our priorities or end goals, whether at national or regional level, must be kept in sight. Your national goals are clear. At the regional level, they are set by our leaders and must guide our collective work.

“As Pacific Ocean Commissioner, Leaders have bestowed upon me a responsibility to regularly provide them with progressive updates on how the implementation of our regional ocean priorities is progressing. I officially took up the position of on 01 August of this year. It is my intention to convene a meeting of donor partners, such as the EU, to ensure coherent and coordinated investments in the ocean space.

“Investments made must correspond to value for money and maximise impacts and returns for our countries as the ultimate beneficiaries. The investments must support efforts to national governments and at the same time, support the fulfilment of the regional and global priorities and commitments.”

Regarding ocean governance, Dr Manoni said Forum Leaders see the 2050 Strategy as Northern Star. He said with the vast Pacific Ocean, no doubt this journey towards 2050 will be a long one and will be intergenerational.

“In order to reach our final destination, we all have a part to play. Individually and collectively.

“Let us use the illustration of a vaka. Different crew members of the vaka, play different roles. From the captain right down to the sailors. Each of them play an equally important role in order to steer the vaka clear from the stormy weather and to safely reach their final destination – a shore. At times, failure on one’s part may compromise or further prolong the journey. It is always important to communicate amongst the crew.”

He stressed the significance of traditional knowledge in preserving cultural heritage and community richness, advocating for inclusivity and ownership.

Dr Manoni reiterated the famous African idiom “to sail fast you sail alone, but to sail far you sail together.”

The event saw the participation of distinguished figures including the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, Dr Filimon Manoni, and the Head of the EU Delegation to the Pacific, Barbara Plinkert, along with government representatives, technical partners, civil society, and non-governmental organisations.