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Pacific Summit On Tuna And Rising Sea Levels Marshall Islands, September 3, 13

A four day Pacific summit this week will discuss the sustainable development and increasing islanders’ control of the USD 6.5 billion annual tuna industry.

Talks regarding the protection of marine life in the vast ocean territories belonging to Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) members through shark protection measures will also form part of the program.

Some of the world’s smallest countries will come together and use the Pacific summit, hosted by Marshall Islands to push a whole raft of environmental issues.

The PIF is made up of 16 member countries: Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Australia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, Niue and Cook Islands.

Papua New Guinea’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) accounts for the largest tuna catch of countries within the forum, with approximately 700,000 tons of tuna caught in its waters in 2012. Kiribati’s EEZ is the largest of the 16 nations, at 3,181,158 km².

Climate change will also be a largely discussed topic at the event, with Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshalls being most at threat at less than a meter above sea level.

Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, Phillip Muller said: “Recently waves inundated our international airport and we see accelerated erosion in most parts of the island.” He added that changing conditions meant that parts of the country were close to being part of a record-breaking drought.

While some island nations, such as Kiribati have already discussed options including migration or escape from the rising seas, Muller said the 55,000 people who populate the Marshall Islands did not want to become refugees of climate change.

He said: “We are hoping we won’t have to relocate. That’s a choice we don’t want to make. We want to work as hard as we can to see if there’s a possibility of having our islands continue to exist, that’s why we’re calling for urgent action from our friends around the world.”

The event will also be attended by diplomats from the U.S., China, India, Russia and the E.U.