The Pacific must arise and protect our Blue Pacific from increasing foreign interests aimed at industrializing our Pacific Ocean.
Hilda Lini, a former Vanuatu politician and an activist of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) says it is important to protect our Pacific identity which is our ocean as there’s a lot of foreign and corporate interests.
Lini said arising issues such as experimental seabed mining, boundaries mapping, biodiversity research and exploration for science and research needs cautioning as it takes similar approaches to that of nuclear testing days in the Pacific.
Speaking at the recent Melanesian Indigenous Land and Defence Alliance (MILDA) meeting in Vanuatu, she said the Pacific can learn from the experiences of nuclear testing in Tahiti, Marshall Islands, Australia (Kirisimasi Islands) and Kiribati, which taught us lessons of foreign interest and the militarization of our ocean.
“We had to mobilize ourselves as Pacific people and resist nuclear testing back in those days of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific…it required creative activism and the political will of our Pacific leaders to back our campaign.
“Today, we are faced with the same foreign interests but we need to be smart as it is a negotiation game and it comes with money,” said Lini.
She said our Pacific Ocean is important to us as Pacific people because we have cultural and spiritual connections with the ocean, and our definition around ocean governance differs from a Western worldview of ocean management and use.
“Our indigenous practices with our land, ocean and air are totally different from what the West thinks of us and that remains our greatest resistance to ensuring we protect our environment for future generations.
“When the UN and the global community are talking about ocean governance and sustainability, we need to question in whose interest are we mapping, or why test seabed mining in the Pacific and who will be benefiting from all of these ocean governance measures,” cautioned Lini.
The Pacific Network on Globalisation’s Blue Economy researcher, Lice Cokanasiga said that the Pacific should be cautious of the Blue Economy agenda which promotes sustainable exploitation of our ocean resources which is driven by foreign agendas.
“This encourages the continuous assault on our ocean and ocean resources, tradition and culture practices of our pacific people and challenges us as custodians of the largest ocean in the world.”