'New ideas' needed for Pacific problems

Malcolm Turnbull has arrived in the Federated States of Micronesia for the Pacific Island Forum. (AAP)

Climate change and the tyranny of distance were at top of the agenda at the Pacific Islands Forum.

The challenges of climate change, the tyranny of distance and illegal fishing in the Pacific require more engagement and fresh ideas, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says.

After days of spruiking Australia's role as a peace broker in South East Asia, Mr Turnbull swapped a business shirt for a green and blue leaf printed number as he got down to business at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Pohnpei on Friday - 4500 kilometres north of Sydney in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

The island of Pohnpei - which has a populated of around 36,000 people - is, like many of its neighbours, struggling with remoteness and size.

As the largest and most populous member of the PIF, the Pacific Island nations want Australia to take a more active role in the region.

Something Mr Turnbull underlined in his address to the forum saying: "My government recognises that Australia interests in the region and the complexity of the challenges we face demands more engagement at every level, more integrated policy and fresh ideas."

"For Australia, there is no more pressing need for regional action than on climate change and resilient development."

To this end he committed an additional $80million on top of $300 million over the next four years for the Pacific island region - $75 million of which will go specifically to disaster relief.

But according to the World Bank, the FSM alone already incurs, on average, $US8.8 million ($A11.5 million) per year (about 3.1 per of GDP) in losses due to typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Climate change, they say, will only increase this vulnerability -- resulting in more intense typhoons, sea level rises storm surges, floods and droughts.

Oxfam said Australia also had a long way to go to meet its responsibilities - not only through funding but in reducing its own pollution.

Publicly, at least, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was more philosophical.

"You can't demand the (Australian) government to give you all the money you want. The more they give the better it is for the region," he told reporters.

It's not just climate change that is worrying the PIF.

Among the five priority areas set to be discussed are the challenges around fisheries.

This year's Pacific Tuna Report Card found that while stocks of Yellowfin, Albacore and Skipjack remained healthy Bigeye tuna is overfished.

Meanwhile Illegal fishing is costing a precious $600 million a year.

Australia will inject up to 21 boats to help patrol boats to Pacific Island countries to promote air surveillance to monitor illegal maritime activities.

The messages of counter-terrorism and territorial tensions that dominated the summit in Laos felt another world away from Pohnpei.

But by Friday afternoon, North Korea's announcement that it had successfully tested a nuclear weapon showed that the pressures on global peace were never far off.

Describing it as reckless, provocative and dangerous, Mr Turnbull said it was why Australia and Myanmar secured the agreement of the leaders at the East Asia Summit yesterday to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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