On a significant event of World Ocean Day on 08 June, the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, Dr Filimon Manoni joined voices worldwide to honour the ocean’s vitality and underscore its crucial role in the lives of Pacific peoples and the global community.

“Since its inception in 1992, this day has grown in significance, and thirty-two years later, its momentum continues to increase.”

The 2024 World Ocean Day theme, “Awaken New Depths,” highlights the vast, unexplored realms of the ocean, emphasising the need for continued exploration and understanding.

“Despite ongoing efforts to understand the ocean, there is still so much we do not know,” Dr Manoni said, reminding us that the ocean is a “precious, God-given gift that requires our attention and respect.”

He stressed the importance of ocean literacy, particularly for the younger generation, advocating for educational initiatives in schools that build on generational knowledge.

“To deepen our understanding, we need to connect with our ocean and enhance ocean literacy throughout the region—starting in our schools and building on our generational knowledge,” he said.

“By instilling respect and understanding of the ocean in our children, we ensure they are well-equipped to face future challenges.”

This call to action comes at a crucial time, with international focus on ocean health reaching new heights.

Dr Manoni highlighted the successful advocacy surrounding the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement and the recognition of traditional knowledge and the unique challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

“These accomplishments link international support mechanisms and partners to national and regional ocean-led initiatives,” he explained.

Giving back to our ocean- Members of the Pacific Ocean Alliance in their coastal clean up as part of their World Ocean Day activity. Photo: OPOC

However, the threats to ocean health continue to rise.

Dr Manoni pointed to the recent advisory opinion from the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, which recognised greenhouse gas emissions as marine pollutants. This, he said, serves as a “milestone opinion” with significant implications for climate change discourse.

“It reminds us of our duties to prevent and mitigate such pollution and to protect and preserve the marine environment.”

In the Pacific, the BBNJ Agreement is particularly poignant, capturing and promoting ancestral knowledge.

Dr Manoni praised Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia for ratifying the Agreement and emphasised the ongoing support provided to members through the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy.

“We are working closely with members and partners to provide support through webinars, workshops, and deliver on national expectations surrounding the BBNJ process,” he said.

On World Ocean Day, Dr Manoni urged everyone to take positive actions for the ocean, such as properly disposing of trash, planting mangroves, and practicing sustainable fishing.

“These steps might seem small, but they go a long way in the overall scheme of things,” he said.

“Every day is an Ocean Day for our people in the Blue Pacific Ocean.

“Let us all work together to give back to our ocean and create a ripple effect in the various spaces we occupy,” he said.