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The south western Pacific islands region
Zann, L.P.; Vuki, V. (2000). The south western Pacific islands region, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 705-722
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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Document type: Review


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  • Zann, L.P.
  • Vuki, V.

    The south Western Pacific Islands region consists of 1170 islands and thousands of islets and coral reefs. The major island groups are Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa (including American Samoa and Samoa). The total land area is 55,700 km2, EEZ area is 4.89 million km2, and population is 1.3 million. Marine biodiversity is rich and relatively similar throughout, but island groups vary geomorphologically, politically and socio-economically, necessitating separate descriptions in this chapter. Populations are small but growth and urbanisation has been rapid, placing acute pressures on the limited natural resources of the small islands. The major issues include: the effects of increased sedimentation resulting from changing land-use on estuarine and lagoonal environments; loss of wetlands, lagoons and reefs through land reclamations, draining, seawalls, ports and other constructions; declining inshore fisheries production through over-fishing, use of destructive fishing practices and loss of fish habitats; environmental degradation, overfishing in urban areas; declines in endangered turtles, giant clams and other wildlife through overfishing and poor water quality in urban areas; and effects of cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish on coral reefs. Industrialisation is limited, and pollution is confined largely to ports and industrial sites. Impacts vary greatly within and between groups, with the urbanised, smallest and most densely inhabited islands most affected. Environmental management capabilities are very limited in most countries but regional fisheries and environmental management agencies are relatively effective, but under-resourced. Western conservation mechanisms such as marine national parks are culturally inappropriate and there are few marine protected areas. Because of traditional land/sea tenure, co-management models (government and village) are more appropriate in this region.

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