Tuvalu releases the first inventory of its most vital resource: Marine life

25 June 2013 | News story

Alofa Tuvalu,the French-Tuvaluan NGO, handed out "Tuvalu Marine Life" a publication symbolically printed in 100 copies, to Tine Leuelu, Ambassador of Tuvalu to Belgium, to IUCN, UNESCO and to its partners. The event took place, early June, at the Paris Tropical Aquarium.

Lost in the middle of the Pacific, North of Fiji, Tuvalu is an archipelago of nine low-lying islands, spread over 900,000km2. With a total landmass of 26km2 - 1/2 of Manhattan, 1/4 of Paris - this young nation finds itself at the forefront of a planetary issue: climate change. And there can be no mistaking that unless existing trends are addressed immediately, the very future of Tuvalu is at stake. And with it, the future of humanity.

Changing and increasingly erratic weather patterns, flooding due to sea level rise, increasing ocean temperatures and longer droughts are already putting Tuvalu’s vulnerable environment under pressure. Freshwater supplies and local food production are affected. Traditional root crops have become difficult to cultivate due to the infiltration of saltwater. Providing the nation’s nutritional base, marine resources are, more than ever, vital for Tuvalu. The first marine biodiversity inventory of the archipelago: “Tuvalu Marine Life” is a new emblematic action, part of the NGO’s «Small is Beautiful » plan and in turn, part of the UNESCO 2004-­‐2014 Decade for Education in Sustainable Development.

From 358 fish species referenced in 1991, “Tuvalu Marine Life” inventoried 607 fish and brought the studied marine species total to 1,526. At least 79 fish species of interest are listed in the IUCN Red List, of which 29 are included in Near Threatened or Threatened categories.A stock evaluation of 85 species selected by Tuvalu fisheries for their value to island communities, completed the study.

“Tuvalu Marine Life” aims to be a starting point not a conclusion. In contributing critical new knowledge to the international community, “Tuvalu Marine Life” will assist Tuvalu in managing its natural heritage. In the meantime, the publication represents a unique history and testimony of Tuvalu’s marine environment as of 2013. “Tuvalu Marine Life” is also the start of awareness campaign toward a wide audience, especially the young. A first picture exhibition and children’s workshop opened on June 4th at the Tropical Aquarium in Paris. This edition of the monthly event was devoted to Pacific biodiversity.

“Tuvalu Marine Life” is the culmination of 7 years of work. It was made possible by The Fondation d’entreprise Total, AFD/CRISP (Coral Reef InitiativeS for the Pacific), Sue Devitt Beauty, Tuvalu Fisheries and Kaupule’s, as well as Alofa Tuvalu and its numerous gracious supporters around the world.