The Republic of Vanuatu is an archipelago of 82 islands in Melanesia that is inhabited by approximately 224,000 people. Vanuatu has a marine area of around 680,000 km2 with a coastline that stretches more than 2,500 km. Important ecosystems such reefs and mangroves consist of a total area of 4,110 km2 and 30 km2, respectively. Vanuatu’s economy has had a turbulent history since independence. After successful economic reforms however, the country’s economy is growing – as is its population, with an demographic growth rate among the highest in the Pacific.
Coastal and marine resources provide ni-Vanuatu businesses, households, and government many real and measurable benefits. The exclusive economic zone of Vanuatu, nearly 700,000 square kilometres of ocean, is more than 50 times larger than the country’s land area. In 2015 the MACBIO Project undertook Marine Ecosystem Service Valuations with all five partner countries including Vanuatu.
Some highlights included
• Subsistence fishing was valued at a total national value of VT$ 578 (US$ 6.5) million/year.
• Small-scale commercial fisheries produced a value VT$ 294 (US$ 3.3) million annually.
• Bêche-de-mer has produced a value of VT$ 4.5 (US$ 0.05) million per year.
• Aquarium fishery trade was valued at VT$ 13.4 (US$ 0.15) million/year.
• Tourism accounted for VT$ 613 – 1095 (US$ 6.9 – 12.3) million per year.
• The annual value of coastal protection was estimated to be VT$ 1,226 – 2,043 (US$ 13.7 -23m) million.
• The value of carbon sequestration was estimated to be VT$ 1.8 – 451 (US$ 0.02 – 5m) million a year.
In 2016, the Vanuatu’s Council of Ministers approved the country’s first Ocean Policy that sets a clear framework for integrated marine spatial planning throughout its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including building an ecologically representative network of marine protected areas by 2020. The MACBIO Project supported the Vanuatu Government in the national consultation process for the policy and will provide ongoing assistance in implementing the marine spatial planning aspects.
Vision: To conserve and sustain a healthy and wealthy ocean for the people and culture of Vanuatu, today and tomorrow