Marine Atlas: Maximizing Benefits for Vanuatu
FOREWORD While the ocean covers more than two thirds of the Earth’s surface, the oceanic territory of Vanuatu is 57 times larger than its land territory. With an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 680,000 km 2 , Vanuatu is a large ocean state.
This island nation contains many marine eco- systems, from globally significant coral reefs to mangroves, seagrass areas, seamounts and deep- sea trenches supporting at least 769 fish species, including sharks and rays, as well as whales, dolphins and sea turtles. We are committed to conserving this unique marine biodiversity. Vanuatu’s marine ecosystems are worth at least VUV 5.8 billion per year—comparable to the coun- try’s total export value. We are strongly committed to sustaining these values to build an equitable and prosperous blue economy. The country’s history, culture, traditions and prac- tices are strongly linked to the ocean and its biodi- versity. By sharing and integrating traditional and scientific knowledge, we are navigating towards holistic marine resource management. Traditionally, Vanuatu’s coastal villages manage inshore marine resources. We are striving to work together to sustainably manage all of Vanuatu’s coastal marine areas (traditional fishing grounds) for the benefit of empowered and resilient communities. At the same time, Vanuatu is experiencing the direct effects of climate change on its ocean and island environments.
By strengthening global partnerships, we are proudly taking leadership in climate change policy and global ocean governance. Further, through integrated and participatory planning, we are aiming to balance economic, ecological and social objectives in this EEZ for the benefit of current and future generations.
On what levels and in which ways can we manage uses of, and threats to, our marine values?
The atlas can help decision makers from all sec- tors appreciate the values of marine ecosystems and the importance of spatially planning the uses of these values. Practitioners can assist these planning processes by using the accompanying data layers and raw data in their Geographic Information Systems. While the atlas provides the best data currently publicly available, information about Vanuatu’s wa- ters is constantly increasing. Therefore, the atlas is an open invitation to use, modify, combine and update the maps and underlying data. Only by involving all stakeholders in a nationwide Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) process can we truly maximize benefits for Vanuatu. The e-copy and interactive version of the Vanuatu Marine Atlas are available here: http://macbio- pacific.info/marine-atlas/vanuatu
In doing so, we can maximize benefits from the ocean for Vanuatu, its people and its economy.
This is where the Vanuatu Marine Atlas comes into play. Improvements in research over the years have enabled us to better understand the ocean system and to develop solutions with a sustaina- ble approach. A lot of data have become publicly available, with this atlas compiling over a hundred data sets from countless data providers to make this treasure trove of marine and coastal information accessible and usable for the first time—as maps with narratives, as data layers and as raw data.
In its three chapters, the atlas sets out to illustrate:
What values does the ocean provide to Vanuatu, to support our wealth and well-being?
How should we plan the uses of these ocean val- ues and best address conflicts and threats?
MARINE ATLAS • MAXIMIZING BENEFITS FOR VANUATU
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