Oceania

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Solomon Islands officials order national broadcaster to stop promoting ‘disunity’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/08/2022 - 1:04pm in

The government denies that it is seeking to censor content

Originally published on Global Voices

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation or (SIBC)

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation or (SIBC)

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC), a publicly funded media network, was ordered by the prime minister’s office to enforce new guidelines that will require news and paid programs to undergo a vetting process as the government reins in on “disunity.”

SIBC chief executive Johnson Honimae told the Associated Press that the prime minister’s office has raised the issue of “disunity” in several telephone calls. “They believe we've been running too many stories from the opposition side, causing too much disunity,” Honimae said.

The Prime Minister's Office reminded SIBC about its duty “to practice, fair, responsible and ethical journalism.”

We have seen that recently SIBC has been broadcasting news that is inciting alarm and anxiety in our public, mostly based on misinformation and lies. The Government has not been even given the opportunity to respond to this misinformation and lies.

This was echoed by the prime minister during a session in Parliament.

Opposition leader Matthew Wale described the order of the prime minister as a gag on the press:

Allowing the Prime Minister to control SIBC activities is not only contrary to law but can also have far-reaching consequences. It may well be draconian leaving no room for corruption by ministers and government officials to be brought to public attention.

Melanesian News Network editor Dorothy Wickham told ABC in an interview about the potential negative impact of the order on press freedom:

If the opposition gets on SIBC and starts criticising government policies, which every opposition does … would the government disallow SIBC to air that story or that interview? That is the question that we're asking.

She added that it is not the duty of the media to promote unity.

University of South Pacific journalism professor Shailendra Singh wrote about the decline of freedom of expression in the country.

The government has clarified that its order is not censorship since it only seeks to protect “our people from lies and misinformation, especially when these very lies and misinformation is propagated by the national broadcaster.”

The precarious state of media freedom in the Solomon Islands was also highlighted during the visit of the Chinese foreign minister in May, when local reporters were barred from raising questions at the press forum.

In a blow to regional unity, Kiribati leaves the Pacific Islands Forum

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/07/2022 - 7:32pm in

Meanwhile, Pacific superpowers vie for dominance in the region

Originally published on Global Voices

Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) during their meeting in Suva, Fiji.

Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) during their meeting in Suva, Fiji. Source: Facebook page of PIF

In a huge blow to regional cooperation, Kiribati, an island country with a population of about 120,000, withdrew from the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to protest the body's failure to address concerns from the Micronesian countries. This includes not adhering to a previous agreement that the next leader of the group should come from The Federated State of Micronesia, an archipelago comprised of 607 islands.

Kiribati President Taneti Maamau announced this decision in a letter to the PIF on July 9, just before the PIF meeting on July 11–14 in Suva, Fiji.

PIF is an 18-nation body established in 1971 and has served as an inter-government organization promoting cooperation among countries in Oceania.

The meeting was held as Pacific powers vie for geopolitical influence in the region. Conventionally, the U.S. has established strong bilateral relations with its Compact of Free Association agreements with Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia.

Yet, in recent years, China has included the Pacific region in its Belt and Road Initiative and has established a stronger presence through high-level visits, as reflected in the recent 10-day regional tour of its Foreign Minister, Wang Yi. The country's recent security pact with the Solomon Islands has triggered strong reactions because of its potential impact on regional security. There are concerns in Australia and the United States that the deal could lead to the construction of a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands,  though Beijing has denied this.

In response to China's growing diplomatic engagement, Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong made at least three trips to the Pacific region after the new government came into power in May. For its part, the United States announced its “Partners in the Blue Pacific” initiative, which indicates its commitment to cementing itself as a dominant power in the region.

Caught in the escalating diplomatic tension, several PIF members from Micronesia threatened to leave the group in 2021 because of the non-election of their candidate, among other concerns.

After numerous discussions, PIF officials reached a consensus that there would be a rotating leadership in the Pacific’s subregions of Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia.

Kiribati claims it was not consulted about this new agreement. Maamau’s letter to the PIF elaborates on the reasons why Kiribati withdrew from the group:

For Kiribati, this is a matter of principle and one that touches on the need for equity, equality and the inclusiveness of all members in the architecture of our premier regional institution. We believe that these are the very same principles that underpins our collective efforts to promote, uphold and strengthen Pacific regionalism.

Maamau added that the withdrawal is not meant to offend anyone:

It is meant to be a reminder to us all that our solidarity and unity as a region is dependent on how we treat each other with profound respect and understanding as we work through the challenges that we face as a region.

During the PIF meeting, leaders “acknowledged with sadness” Kiribati’s decision as they remained hopeful that a continuing dialogue will address the issues raised by Maamau. An excerpt from the forum communique:

Leaders echoed the sentiments conveyed by the Forum Chair that the people and Government of Kiribati will always be a part of the Blue Pacific Family, and committed to continue to dialogue towards a resolution to restore the unity of the Forum Family.

During the July 11–14 forum, PIF tackled key issues affecting the region, such as the climate crisis and reviving island economies battered by the pandemic.

Kiribati's opposition leader Tessie Lambourne criticized the government’s decision to leave the PIF

Lambourne said she suspects that the decision is linked to China’s increasing presence in the region. She said in a media interview:

My assessment is that maybe China wants to isolate us from the rest of the forum, because they don't want us to be part of the region that Australia and New Zealand is part of and have perhaps more influence over than any other.

Former Kiribati president Anote Tong believes that China and the Maamau government might be “cooking something” after the country's withdrawal from PIF. He added in a media interview that Maamau might be hoping to “gain from being isolated from the region” by making a deal directly with China.

Kiribati severed ties with Taiwan in 2019 and restored bilateral relations with Beijing. Taiwan said China lured Kiribati by offering airplanes, ferries, and other aid packages.

The Chinese Embassy in Kiribati has refuted the allegations:

It’s irresponsible and misleading for certain international media and politicians to make false and unprofessional statement and report which shows disrespect to both Kiribati and China.

China always sticks to the principle of non-interference of internal affairs and promotes win-win cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and equality.

Whatever may be the case, Kiribati’s withdrawal from the PIF has undermined regional unity amid intensifying rivalry between bigger and richer nations in the Pacific.

The tide is rising against deep sea mining

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 6:55pm in

Pacific nations are leading the campaign to protect the seas

Originally published on Global Voices


The #BlueMarch in Lisbon was attended by environmentalists and activists opposed to deep sea mining. Twitter Photo from The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

Global leaders, scientists, environmental advocates, and civil society groups voiced their opposition to deep sea mining during the UN Ocean Conference held from June 27–July 1 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Deep sea mining is the practice of excavating the ocean floor to harvest rare minerals such as manganese, cobalt, copper, and nickel, which are often used for batteries, most notoriously those used in electric vehicles. The International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body, is currently drafting regulations that could be used by the mining industry in 2023. So far, the Pacific island nation of Nauru has expressed interest in allowing deep sea mining on its territory.

But Pacific communities are also among the most consistent in strongly opposing deep sea mining by citing the destructive colonial legacy of conducting nuclear tests in the region.

At the UN Ocean Conference, the leaders of Palau and Fiji led the launching of the Alliance of Countries Calling for a Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium. Palau President Surangel Whipps, Jr. said during the event:

We all have to make sacrifices and come together as nations to achieve the greater good for our planet and our people. We know that deep-sea mining compromises the integrity of our ocean habitat that supports marine biodiversity and contributes to mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama added:

If allowed to go ahead, mining will irreversibly destroy ancient deep sea habits and impact those who rely on the ocean for their livelihood.

The Fiji government warned that deep sea mining will “further jeopardize” the lives of people “who are already suffering from climate change-induced disasters.”

During a separate event at the conference, French President Emmanuel Macron also stated his opposition to mining the high seas, although France has exploration agreements with ISA. The United States climate envoy called for more studies about the impact of deep sea mining. In a letter submitted to the annual meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in early June, Chile called for a 15-year moratorium on adopting regulations that would allow deep sea mining.

Greenpeace oceans project lead Arlo Hemphill noted the growing opposition against deep sea mining:

The wall of silence is finally being shattered as countries begin to speak out against the destructive deep-sea mining industry, which would put the health of the ocean on which we all depend and the lives and livelihoods of billions of people living in coastal communities at risk.

Meanwhile, 146 parliamentarians signed the Global Parliamentary Declaration Calling for a Moratorium on Deep Seabed Mining. The statement offers an alternative for states which wanted to pursue deep sea mining to extract minerals needed in the transition towards a so-called “green economy”:

Rather than launching a vast new extractive industry, States should be investing in new technologies and systems that reduce the demand for raw minerals through reuse, recycling and innovative design. The green transition must not come at the expense of biodiversity and our planet’s biggest natural carbon sink.

Aussie 14-year-old leads a trailblazing online news service

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/06/2022 - 7:31pm in

The 6 News team aims high with informed, independent, impartial journalism

Originally published on Global Voices

Leo Puglisi interviews opposition leader Anthony Albanese during 2022 election campaign

Leo Puglisi interviews opposition leader Anthony Albanese during 2022 election campaign – Screenshot from 6 News YouTube video

Leonardo Puglisi is a force of nature. The 14-year-old leads a young team of reporters from around Australia and overseas for 6 News, an upstart news program. It presents itself as an online alternative to the mainstream media while offering similar services such as up-to-date news, long-form interviews, a flagship political program, SpinCheck, investigative reports, and fact-checking.

6 News started in 2019 as “HMV,” covering local news in the Melbourne district of Hawthorn on YouTube. It has since broadened its scope to focus on international and national news.

In addition to YouTube and its website, 6 News uses a number of platforms, including TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, to spread and promote its content.

Their Patreon account has 242 paying patrons, while their YouTube service has nearly one million views and 14 thousand subscribers so far. They recently posted a conversation with Prime Minister Anthony Norman Albanese, which has garnered over 20,000 views. His personal Twitter account has nearly 35,000 followers, and 6 News can boast 20,000.

Chief Reporter Connor Alforque’s video “Voluntary Assisted Dying: Is it ethical?” is typical of their special reports:

6 News features a collection of mainstream media television and radio interviews, plus news articles. For example, the Age newspaper reported a scoop two years ago:

A 12-year-old schoolboy has been dubbed possibly Melbourne’s youngest journalist after his “scoop” about the demolition of a 19th-century school bell tower. Year seven student Leonardo Puglisi was on the scene at 6pm on Wednesday to report the removal of the much-loved, 135-year-old school symbol at Hawthorn West Primary School, in the city's inner east.

As part of his January 2020 coverage of the Australian bushfires, Leo reported from the nation’s capital, Canberra. It includes another reporter, family member Sebastian.

An interview with a 16-year-old Trump supporter is another original and powerful video.

Leo and 6 News obviously have many admirers, including professional adult journalists:

However, he attracts more than his fair share of online criticism. Some are clearly misinformed, with some detractors not realizing he is well below voting age. His age is a continuing meme on social media:

Some critics seem plain nasty. The Katherine Deves Fan Club has taken aim several times:

This Twitter account is named after an unsuccessful Liberal Party candidate in the May 2022 Australian election, Katherine Deves. She was strongly supported by the then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison and was highly controversial for comments she made which many described as transphobic. She has since left Twitter after posting a post-election tweet about transgender people.

As this encounter shows, Leo is not afraid to join the fray on social media. This exchange with a Victorian State parliamentarian is a typical example:

Leo has interviewed many of the big names in Australian politics, including then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader and now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Ukraine’s President Volodimir Zelensky is currently at the top of his wishlist. With Leo’s energetic approach, it should not be too long before we see them in conversation.

Global Voices spoke to Leo about his experiences so far and hopes for the future on June 23, 2022:

Leo and his team join the ranks of other young Australian trailblazers such as Abbie at Her Magazine and Jack, Darcy, and Wesley at COVIDBaseAu.

Pacific groups celebrate Ocean Week by opposing deep sea mining

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/06/2022 - 4:35pm in

Ocean protectors urged ‘Stop Ocean Crime, Ban Deep Sea Mining’

Originally published on Global Voices


‘Ban Deep Sea Mining”. Photo from the Facebook page of Oxfam in the Pacific. Used with permission.

Various Pacific groups celebrated Ocean Week and Ocean Day on June 8 by calling on officials to reject deep-sea mining (DSM) in the region.

Deep-sea mining is the practice of extracting minerals from the ocean floor, which threatens marine life and ecosystems. Because of its potentially massive impact, the International Seabed Authority of the United Nations is drafting regulations against deep-sea mining that could take effect in July 2023. So far, the island nations of Nauru and Tonga have expressed interest in pursuing measures to ban or limit DSM.

The regional network Pacific Blue Line is actively opposing DSM and warns how this extractive practice would exacerbate the harsh impact of climate change that is already ravaging island communities in the Oceania region.

Pacific governments keen to pursue DSM have to ask themselves, to what extent are they willing to destroy the ocean’s life support system during a time of climate, and planetary emergency and in what is commonly known as the age of extinction. Our governments must ask themselves who stands to gain the most from the destruction of our ocean.

It would be beyond ironic if leaders of Pacific Island countries, which are already at the forefront of the impacts of climate change and facing existential threats to territorial integrity, allow themselves to be persuaded to mine the ocean floor, thereby pushing the world into the doomsday scenario.

A petition was launched to mobilize public opposition against DSM. This initiative is supported by the Pacific Parliamentarians’ Alliance on Deep Sea Mining which released a statement highlighting the destructive colonial legacy in the Pacific and how DSM would exacerbate the exploitation of the region under the guise of pursuing development.

Recent Pacific history is replete with experiences of exploitation under the guise of social and economic development pathways that, in reality, involved frontier industries that were inherently experimental. Decades of atmospheric and underground or submarine nuclear testing, terrestrial mining and other land-based extractive industries are pertinent examples. Such historical exploitation holds much responsibility for the realities of many Pacific Islands societies today; realities that serve to shrink our options and entice our countries to repeat unsustainable patterns of economic development.

During the Ocean Week in early June, Pacific Blue organized lectures and webinars to explain how DSM would destroy not just the environment but also the way of life in island communities.

Instead of DSM, Pacific groups have unveiled an alternative agenda promoting a “blue economy” that focuses on ocean protection and grassroots development.

In celebration of Ocean Day, grassroots organizations around the pacific organized protests and events to reflect the growing opposition to DSM. In West Papua, Indonesia, young volunteers organized a coastal clean-up while promoting a petition against DSM.


Young Papuans taking a pledge against deep sea mining. Photo from the Facebook page of Youngsolwara

In Fiji, the Pacific Conference of Churches gathered several individuals and groups together as part of the campaign against DSM:


A group activity celebrating Ocean Week. Photo from the Facebook page of the Pacific Conference of Churches.


“Stop Ocean Crime”. Photo from the Facebook page of the Pacific Conference of Churches.


Coastal clean up near the University of South Pacific. Photo from the Facebook page of the Pacific Conference of Churches

Sorcery accusation-related violence continues to plague Papua New Guinea

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/04/2022 - 7:18am in

The majority of victims are elderly women in the highland provinces

Originally published on Global Voices


UN Women Papua New Guinea Country Office staff commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2015. Photo and caption from the Flickr page of UN Women. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), some already disenfranchised women have to face an added burden of sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV). However, a global initiative by the United Nations with support from the European Union has recently conducted a consultation on a proposed Human Rights Defenders Protection bill aimed at supporting groups and community leaders in ending this violence.

SARV cases remain high in the highland provinces of PNG despite a national action plan intended to eradicate the crime. Most victims of SARV are women elders in poor communities who are blamed for practicing sorcery as the cause of the mysterious illness or death of a family member. SARV cases rose during the pandemic, which reflects the lack of information about the coronavirus.

SARV was tackled by PNG legislators during a Special Parliamentary Committee in August 2021. The committee report was explicit in condemning SARV:

This type of violence is absolutely unacceptable: it is not excusable as part of PNG’s culture but rather, arises from the misunderstanding (and sometimes the deliberate manipulation) of traditions and religion to harm innocent people, in particular women and children.

SARV against women is often particularly brutal and sexualised, with the violent acts specifically targeting the victim’s womanhood.

The committee also tried to ascertain the number of SARV cases while noting that the incidents could be higher since many victims are reluctant to file a legal action against family members:

An average of 388 people are accused of sorcery each year in the 4 provinces combined. A third of these led to physical violence or property damage. Amongst those accused, 65 were killed, 86 suffered permanent injury and 141 survived other serious assault and harm, such as burning, cutting, tying or being forced into water. Overall, 93 cases involved torture: 20 lasted several days and 10 lasted a week or even longer. The submission used that data to estimate the number of violent SARV incidents between the year 2000 and June 2020 to be over 6,000, resulting in an estimated 3,000 deaths nationally.

Writing for the DevPolicy blog, Anton Lutz and Miranda Forsyth highlighted the long-term impact of SARV on survivors, especially women and children:

In our 4-year study, we found that only 15% of victims die, leaving more than enough scarred, traumatised, unsupported, fearful people to seek redress in court. But they don’t. They move away. They go into hiding. They bounce around from safe house to safe house. They wait. They hope they don’t get attacked again.

SARV cases were still being recorded even after a nationwide campaign was launched against the crime. In an editorial published in January, Post-Courier pressed for urgent action:

Is murder and terrorism crippling society that we blame sorcery as the easy way out and ignore it?

This matter has been raised before.

But no one is changing because lives are being lost or ruined and no one seems to care.

Women especially are being targeted so there must be people who have deep hatred for women.

They could be sick in the head.

It would also appear that tribal enmity is creeping into the so-called sorcery killings and it is a payback in disguise.

Payback killings are well known in PNG so why are we naive about it?

Fr Giorgio Licini of the Catholic Bishops Conference echoed the call for better government response to this complex social problem: “The traditional reaction to sorcery in old Europe and current PNG appears to be largely irrational, based on suspicion and fear, retaliation and pay-back, opportunism, lies and business. The legislation is poor, insufficient, practically inexistent for an issue that is complex. It involves murder but is more than common criminal behaviour.”

Dominic Kanea, a SARV survivor, asked for tougher penalties against those who commit SARV:

We need the MPs from the upper Highlands region to work in unity to fight against sorcery accusation-related violence.

Introduce tougher penalties for the cowards who prey on innocent people and go on the spree of destroying properties worth millions of kina [PNG currency] and killing of innocent people.

Women’s rights advocate Dame Carol Kidu insists that SARV is a recent phenomenon and cautions against associating it with any PNG traditions or history:

In no anthropological writings have I seen reference to anything barbaric as this. This is not part of the ancestry of PNG as we are far more a caring society. I do not know why it has emerged like this, because we know that sorcery is part of PNG's society, but SARV is not part of the society. SARV killings are premeditated murder and encouraged by friends and relatives.

Fiona Hukula of the PNG National Research Institute warns about how the ongoing pandemic is fueling fear and even increasing instances of SARV:

…there is a risk that the health crisis posed by COVID-19 has the potential to precipitate economic and social crisis. This in turn may well involve violence, as people look to allocate blame and find protection in uncertain times by scapegoating others.

The government and society at large needs to act fast to prevent the spread of fear that is a catalyst for violence and social unrest.

Watch this video on how the proposed Human Rights Defenders Protection bill can boost the work of women community leaders in fighting SARV in PNG:

Citizens push back on Palau’s plan to open marine sanctuary to commercial fishing and exploration

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/04/2022 - 7:38pm in

The move is meant to aid pandemic-related economic loss

Originally published on Global Voices


The “Milky Way” cove in Palau seen from the air. Photo from Flickr page of LuxTonnerre, (CC BY 2.0)

Palau's Olbiil Era Kelulau (Congress) is considering a bill that will open their expansive marine sanctuary, the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS), to commercial fishing and oil exploration. In response, citizens are circulating an online petition opposing the proposal.

Palau is a small archipelago of more than 500 islands located on the western side of the Pacific. In 2015, the Palau government established the PNMS which designated 80 percent of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as a conservation area with no international or domestic fishing, while 20 percent was set aside as a domestic fishing zone. This marine protected area became one of the largest in the world and was hailed as a model for countries that want to conserve their marine resources. After five years of planning, the PNMS became fully operational in 2020.

But two years later, the government is already considering reopening 50 percent of Palau’s EEZ to foreign fishing fleets in order to generate revenue and stimulate the economy. House Bill No. 11-30-2S proposes temporarily reopening the PNMS and allowing commercial fishing and even oil exploration as the nation grapples with dwindling resources caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Palau’s tourism sector, which employs 20 percent of the population, was severely affected by the pandemic.

As of 2021, Palau's GDP had contracted 17. percent due to pandemic-related losses, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The bill says that “foreign fishing agreements brought significant revenue to the Republic,” adding:

By temporarily permitting fishing pursuant to foreign fishing agreements within EEZ, the Republic will bring much-needed revenue for the national and state governments, as well as local vendors and will have a significant positive impact on the economy.

Before the closure, the government received around USD 700,000 per year from fishing licenses through its vessel day scheme (VSD), equaling about USD 40,000 per state. The VSD is an agreement between some Pacific island nations that sets limits on the number of days a fishing vessel can fish in each nation's economic zones and is considered one of the most complex, yet successful, fishing regulations in the world.

Palau receives an average of USD 8 million per year from the VSD.

However, other estimates show that between international conservation and development grants — both money and supplies — Palau has received over USD 70 million so far as a result of the PNMS. This year alone, Palau received USD 1.8 million from the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) to help implement the PNMS over a four-year period, according to reporting from the Mariana Variety, Micronesia's leading news outlet.

Environmental cost

The bill was criticized by Palau environmentalists, community elders, and concerned citizens alike. Environment group Ebiil Society initiated an online petition against the bill. The petitioners have a reminder for Palau authorities:

…While it is understood that there is a need to seek ways to bolster our revenue earning capacity, short-term solutions should not jeopardize well thought out long-term policy objectives established for our Republic by the Palauan people.

…We believe there is a multitude of unexplored alternatives resulting in sustainable revenues that return social and environmental gains, that reflects our deep wisdom and connection to the ocean, which has cradled our lives and sustained our culture for many generations.

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. acknowledged the petition and responded that the government is offering a solution. He said this to the media:

We want to come up with a solution. So I don’t know if they’re opposing the solution or they’re opposing something else. What we’re doing is providing a solution. So I hope we can all work together to solution that benefits everyone. That’s really the goal. So I think a lot of times we do petitions or we run around doing things being misinformed.

During a public hearing for the bill, House Speaker Sabino Anastacio pointed out that the funds that Palau is entitled to receive from international environment donors are not being used to finance the country’s needs. He added that the state is not aware about how some of the grants given to Palau are being spent by non-profit organizations.

When the money comes, these are non-profit so we don’t see the paperwork. We don’t know how much goes to the [salaries] and where the rest of the money goes.

During the same hearing, some stakeholders asserted that Palau stands to benefit more if the PNMS is maintained.

The hashtag #SaveMySanctuary is used to mobilize online support against the bill.

The Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Facebook page has uploaded several videos featuring Palau residents who want to preserve the PNMS.

Ngatpang Chief and Chairman of Belau Offshore Fisheries, Inc. Rideb Okada Techitong explained how the PNMS was conceived as an application of the indigenous Palau practice of “bul” which prescribes a moratorium on the use of resources to prevent the destruction of a habitat or species.


A screenshot from the Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Facebook video

Dora Benhart, Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement Outreach Officer, warned about how reopening the PNMS will negatively affect the Palau way of life.


A screenshot from the Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Facebook video

Fisherman and Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary board member Adolph Demei recalled how overfishing has caused a decline in Palau’s fisheries which prompted elders to declare a “bul” and led to the establishment of the PNMS.


A screenshot from the Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Facebook video

Ironically, Palau will host the 7th annual “Our Ocean Conference” on April 13–14 as representatives of governments and civil society organizations from around the world will meet and discuss new and significant measures to protect the ocean.

Mass coral bleaching of Australia's Great Barrier Reef goes under the media radar

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 1:56am in

The devastating event threatens reef's long term survival

Originally published on Global Voices

Great Barrier Reef faces another severe bleaching event

A screenshot from an ABC News video “Great Barrier Reef faces another severe bleaching event”

The busy news cycle seems to have crowded out coverage of the fourth mass coral bleaching in six years at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirmed this in its Reef Health report on March 25, 2022:

It did not receive the attention such an event usually generates in mainstream or social media, either locally or internationally. The war in Ukraine, floods in eastern Australia, debates about Australia's Federal budget before a national election in May, the unexpected death of much-admired cricketer Shane Warne and other celebrity news took centre stage down under.

Coral reef scientist Professor Terry Hughes lamented:

NPR’s radio program “All things Considered” featured a brief report:

It included this comment from Emily Darling of the Wildlife Conservation Society:

What jumps out at me is the frequency of these events. There's just been no recovery window for the corals.

Not everyone on social media is convinced:

On the other side of the continent, Federal parliamentarian Josh Wilson is concerned that similar damage to the Ningaloo Reef in his State of Western Australia needs more publicity:

The Australian federal budget was brought down a week after the bleaching announcement. The speech by Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, mentioned climate change just once. Many condemned the lack of extra funding to combat climate change. The Climate Council lamented this failure of funding:

THE 2022 Federal Budget has failed to deliver any meaningful commitments to address escalating climate change in Australia.

Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor, leading economist and former Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, who was in today’s Budget lockup, has calculated that just 0.3% of total expenditure for 2021-2024 has been committed to climate change initiatives, falling even lower, to just 0.2% in 2024-2026.

The pro-renewables Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) had a bleak take on the numbers:

They argued that: “Despite the Federal Government saying it’s committing funding to energy and emissions reduction measures in the 2022-23 Budget, the spending on climate is reducing over the next four years, and spending on LNG, gas, carbon capture and storage, and ‘clean’ but not necessarily ‘green’ hydrogen has increased.”

At “The Conversation”, scientists from north Queensland's James Cook University highlighted another unusual aspect of the bleaching:

This is the first time the reef has bleached under the cooling conditions of the natural La Niña weather pattern, which shows just how strong the long-term warming trend of climate change is.

Coincidentally, the United Nations World Heritage Centre's monitoring mission was visiting Australia to decide whether the reef should be listed as a World Heritage site in danger:

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) will undertake a mission to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from 21 to 30 March 2022 to assess its state of conservation and a long-term sustainability plan for its protection.

In July 2021, Environment Minister Sussan Ley managed to avert this potentially embarrassing outcome.

In a different part of eastern Australia, Sydney’s world-renowned Bondi beach was experiencing another climate-related event:

Meanwhile, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has warned that “limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach”.

Retired soccer star and human rights activist, Craig Foster, was just one of many to underline the urgency: