The ocean is the centre of the Pacific food system. The Western and Central Pacific Ocean supplies over half of the world’s tuna catch. This resource is managed by institutions and governance systems that offer a game-changing integration of science, economic policy, and management. The custodianship arrangements for this global resource are a success story in regional food systems cooperation.
Pacific communities, based on historical experience, use traditional and Indigenous knowledge to sustainably manage food from the land and ocean. Centred on family and kinship ties, food and Pacific cultures are inseparable. These ties and traditional food systems help Pacific Island communities cope with shocks, including Covid-19. The deep traditional knowledge of Indigenous people and local communities provide globally applicable lessons on living sustainably with the land and sea, and custodianship over natural resources.
Pacific countries are developing unique value chains for markets and international supply. This includes high-value products such as cacao, vanilla, and coffee. The region is also taking important steps to preserve crop biodiversity, including conserving the largest collection of taro accessions in the world.
Pacific Island people contribute considerable labour and skills to the agriculture and fisheries industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The role of Pacific labour has become increasingly visible and important during the Covid-19 crisis, which diminished other sources of agricultural labour.
The historical legacy of phosphate and guano rock mining in Nauru, Kiribati and French Polynesia, which supplied New Zealand with phosphate for agriculture, has had destructive long-term impacts on the landscapes and the people and cultures displaced by this mining.