Nations yet to agree on
office, financial mechanism

Heads of state from six coral countries are set to adopt the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) declaration at a summit on Friday, despite unresolved issues over a permanent secretariat and financial mechanism.

The ministerial meeting of CTI countries dropped the discussion on where to set up a permanent secretariat, which would draw funds from donor countries, with each member eager to host the office.

"We considered setting up a mobile CTI Secretariat, after the meeting dropped the topic," said Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi.

The ministers also delayed discussions on a financial mechanism and financial resources issues for implementation of the CTI.

Freddy said the sharing of financial assistance could be based on projects proposed by each CTI member to protect coral reefs.

"But we'll have another meeting after the Manado CTI Summit to elaborate on the technical affairs."

Among the donors are the United States, Australia, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

The CTI has already received pledges worth US$300 million, including $40 million from the US.

Philippine Agriculture Minister Arthur C. Yap said his country would lead the donor countries to decide the financial assistance.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Malaysia Prime Minister Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Derek Sikua and Timor Leste President Jose Ramos Horta will launch Friday the CTI on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security.

The summit will adopt a regional CTI plan of action, and is expected to announce major new programs.

President Yudhoyono, at the ministerial meeting of the World Ocean Conference (WOC), said conserving coral reefs would also protect lucrative fish nurseries.

"We will sign a Leaders' Declaration, which will be the boldest and most ambitious marine action plan ever carried out by a group of governments," he said.

"We will discuss what we can do collectively and individually to preserve the rich marine biodiversity of the coral reef triangle... on which some 120 million people's livelihoods depend."

The coral triangle, home to 76 percent of the world's coral species and 37 percent of its reef fish species, straddles 75,000 square kilometers of the Pacific and Indian oceans.

A report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said some 100 million people living along Southeast Asia's coasts could lose their homes and livelihoods unless the world united to save its coral reefs by slashing emissions and resolving overfishing problems.

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