A Pacific environmental consultant says land-based sources of marine pollution are more of a threat to marine ecology than oil spills.
Awareness of the risks of a shipping-related environmental catastrophe in the region have been heightened by the grounding of the container ship Rena off the coast of New Zealand.
Ecostrategic's Steve Raaymakers says although Pacific Island countries couldn't cope with a similar incident, oil spills aren't a major ecological issue for the region.
He says the clearing of vegetation, inappropriate land use and the run-off of sediment, fertilisers and other pollutants into coastal lagoons are far more serious.
"While ship groundings are obviously very media-worthy, there are all these other chronic, insidious forms of pollution which are occurring in the Pacific which don't get the same sort of coverage because you don't have birds covered with oil and other things which make good TV footage but those issues are far more serious for the Pacific and really that's where we need to give a very high priority to addressing."
Steve Raaymakers says disposal of sewage is a Pacific-wide problem.