South Pacific Tourism Organization partners with UNDP to implement SGD 14

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO), in partnership with Beqa Adventure Divers (BAD), launched an initiative to mobilise tourism resources to implement SDG 14 (3).

The ‘My Fiji Shark Initiative aims to promote the use of traditional knowledge, science and technology to advance sustainable management and marine conservation in the Pacific.

The initiative aims to change public perception of sharks, which Natasha Marosi, BAD, described as “beautiful, intelligent and dynamic creatures” with individual personalities. Marosi explained that sharks are globally threatened by habitat loss and overfishing, and “deserve all the help they can get.”

it is collaborating with the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, which is managed by BAD, to increase the profile of marine conservation in the Pacific through a shark adoption programme.

The initiative enables sponsors to “adopt” individual sharks in their natural habitat. There are seven different tiers of public adoption levels, ranging from USD 50 to USD 10,000. Revenues generated from the initiative will support shark conservation measures, create new shark conservation and inshore fisheries management programmes, and build an independent shark lab to conduct shark conservation research in Fiji, among other activities.

UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director, Bakhodir Burkhanov, emphasised that the initiative “is all the more important as it targets SDG financing from – and with – the private sector.” He underscored the importance of private sector engagement and financial support in achieving the SDGs.

The Government of Australia provided financial support for the initiative. The initiative is expected to contribute to the Government of Fiji’s fisheries management and marine conservation goals.