The Solomon Islands are the third-largest island country in the Pacific, after Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The Solomon Islands have a coastline of 9,880 km and the provisional EEZ is with 1,589,477 km2 the second largest in the Pacific. It comprises a total reef area of approximately 5,750 km2 and a total mangrove area of 642 km2. The country is composed of about 1000 islands divided into nine provinces, which differ in environment, population density and culture. In addition to this heterogeneity, there are three levels of governance over the oceans, customary, provincial and national. Approximately 80% of the land is customary land which includes foreshores, reefs and land between low- and high-water marks. This gives villagers control, ownership and rights to use of resources within the customary area. Customary rights are acknowledged by authorities and in some national and provincial laws.
Culture and society in the Solomon Island is intimately tied with the ocean and its ecosystem services. Ecosystem services, described as the benefits that humans receive from ecosystems, are often not fully considered in decisions because the market fails to reveal their true value. Failure to consider the role that marine ecosystems play in supporting livelihoods, economic activity and human wellbeing has, in many instances, led to inequitable and unsustainable marine resource management decisions.
In 2015 the MACBIO Project undertook Marine Ecosystem Service Valuations in all five partner countries including the Solomon Islands
Some highlights included:
• Subsistence fishing was valued at SI$ 442.2 (US$ 58.9) million a year.
• Inshore artisanal fisheries was estimated at SI$ 70.3 (US$ 9.4) million/year.
• Offshore Tuna was valued at SI$ 1,659.8 (US$ 221.1m) million annually; government revenue from this fishery in 2013 was 27% of this value.
• Deep Sea minerals produced a value of SI$ 998,200 (US$ 133,000) a year.
• Tourism and recreation had a gross export value of SI$ 118.7 (US$ 15.8) million a year.
• Coastal protection was valued between SI$ 31 – 52 (US$ 3.3 – 5.6) million a year.
• Carbon sequestration produced a value of SI$ 161.9 (US$ 21.6m) million a year.
In 2015, the Solomon Islands Government, technically facilitated by MACBIO, hosted an in-house, cross-Ministerial Ocean Summit to explore synergies, conflicts, development and conservation opportunities in regard to marine resources in the national EEZ. At the Summit, the government decided that a more integrated, EEZ-wide spatial planning approach would benefit the future of the Solomons. In 2016 the Cabinet decided to support more integrated ocean governance and the Ocean12 meeting established an Ocean Technical Working Group and decided to develop detailed roadmaps, including for spatial ocean planning.
Over the coming years the MACBIO Project will provide ongoing technical assistance to the Solomon Island Government in support of this important objective.
Vision: A healthy, secure, clean and productive ocean which benefits the people of the Solomon Islands and beyond