Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama says collective action is critical to deal with all the challenges facing the Pacific Ocean.
At the opening of the Pacific Islands Development Forum Leaders' Summit in Honiara he urged countries, civil society, businesses and individuals to collaborate to save the ocean which is suffering under increased acidification, unsustainable fishing and plastic rubbish.
The annual forum's theme this year is "Stewardship for Healthy Oceans & Healthy Nations".
Mr Bainimarama said the region's culture and very existence were defined by the Pacific Ocean.
He said the challenges will be examined over the next two days ahead of the Global Oceans and Sea Summit which takes place in Fiji in June next year.
The Fijian leader says Pacific islanders must have a very loud and responsible voice at that meeting.
"The work we will have done so far, the commitments we have made, and the selflessness with which we have taken on this challenge in our corner of the world give us the moral authority to speak out loud and clear and to claim our rightful leadership role in this environmental crusade," he said.