Ocean security and management has long been a critical priority for Tuvalu, especially because fisheries are a major national resource. Tuvalu is a party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers an area of approximately 753,139 km2, which is far larger than its land territory of 25.1 km2. Tuvalu’s oceans are further protected regionally through PIF’s Ocean Policy, the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy, the Pacific Oceanscape Framework, and the Blue Pacific concept.
Tuvalu’s strong commitment to ocean security and management aligns with ideals of moral responsibility or being a good neighbour (falepili) and stewardship (atafai). This is because oceans are a shared and interconnected resource for both the Pacific region and the global community that will only provide sustainable resources with proper supervision.
Formally Define Tuvalu’s Maritime Boundaries
A critical issue for Tuvalu is the retention of its sovereignty over its maritime boundaries, continental shelf, and extended continental shelf regardless of the impacts of sea level rise. As climate change and sea level rise encroach on Tuvalu’s land territory, it is necessary to formally register Tuvalu’s existing maritime boundaries and continental shelf, including its extended continental shelf, as permanent under international law so that future shifts in the low-water line do not diminish access to marine territories and resources. Tuvalu encourages like-minded nations like SIDS to work together to ensure that issues like climate change and sea level rise, which were not considered when UNCLOS was originally developed, are addressed in that convention.
Enhance Protection of Tuvalu’s Ocean Territories and Adjacent Areas
Tuvalu, and the Pacific region more broadly, are committed to protecting and restoring the health, productivity, and resilience of oceans and marine environments both domestically and through the ratification of relevant international and regional conventions. The development of marine protected areas (MPAs) and locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) is important to Tuvalu, and, because Tuvalu’s EEZ is adjacent to areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), the nation strives for enhanced rights to manage, conserve, and conduct activities in ABNJs. This includes not simply securing rights to fisheries and ocean seabed mining but also rights to protect marine biodiversity through consideration of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).
Advocate for Shared Responsibility for Ocean Management that is Proportionate and Equitable
Tuvalu is committed to protecting the health and integrity of oceans, sustainably managing ocean resources, and connecting the Pacific as an oceanic continent, which is in line with the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. In international, multilateral, and bilateral settings, Tuvalu also advocates for shared ocean management that is proportionate and equitable. SIDS should not be solely responsible for protecting their vast EEZs, especially when other nations fish and conduct other activities in these EEZs and benefit from the protection SIDS provide. The oceans are a hugely important sink that help absorb carbon dioxide emissions created by human activity. Ideally, Tuvalu and bordering countries will explore and engage in an ocean carbon tax, where the role oceans in the EEZs of these nations play in absorbing carbon dioxide is accounted for. Credits generated from such initiatives could fund ocean management, making ocean management a shared global responsibility.