WWF-Australia warned today that further cuts to Australia’s international aid and development program could result in greater poverty, instability and insecurity in the Pacific.
The warning comes amid speculation that Australia’s aid program will be cut in next week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, with implications for sustainable fishing programs in the Pacific.
Australia’s international aid and development program supports efforts to keep fisheries within sustainable limits in the Pacific and ensure food security and jobs for millions of people who rely on the sea for protein and income.
“The sustainable fishing programs supported by Australian aid are central to the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in our region,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
“There is nothing fishy about investing in food security and jobs. In the case of our neighbours in the Pacific this means investing in sustainable fisheries.
“The aid budget should not be the one that got away.
“Fisheries in the Pacific are also a major source of foreign exchange for many of our neighbours and so it is important for regional stability that we continue to support these programs.”
Virtually all 580,000 Solomon Islanders are dependent on fish for food, as are about 3.5 million Papua New Guineans.
It is credibly estimated that Solomon Island fisheries will be unable to meet local demand by 2030. PNG fisheries are also over-exploited, although not as much as those in the Solomon Islands.
“Australia’s aid and development program has been working effectively to improve fisheries throughout the region,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“Further cuts to the aid budget would only imperil this nationally and internationally important work.
“We urge the government to reconsider any planned cuts to foreign aid, given the serious food security issues at stake and the impacts these would have in our region.”