delivered as part of the opening formalities by H.E. Mr Kalfau Kaloris Vanuatu High Commissioner to Australia, for the Outgoing Chair of the Forum Fisheries Ministers Committee, Hon. Matai Seremaiah Nawalu, and welcoming of new Chair, Australia.
Firstly, allow me to convey the sincere apologies of the Hon. Matai Seremaiah Nawalu, Minister responsible for Fisheries who is unable to attend this important Ministerial meeting as the national electoral college convenes for the second time this week to try and elect the next Head of State of Vanuatu. I am therefore humbled and honoured to deliver these brief remarks on his behalf....
A very good morning to you all and welcome to the FFCMIN 14 here in this picturesque landscape of the Sunshine Coast, having a quite more accommodative climate this time of year to the Australian capital, which hosted our officials in May. And I take this time to express our deep thanks to our host Australia for your warm hospitality and we anticipate further progressive outcomes under your stewardship.
As the first Ministerial since the passing of the Head of State of Vanuatu allow me this opportunity to express the appreciation of my Government and people for the kind messages of sympathy and goodwill from across the region---thank you.
Before handing over the Chairmanship to our host allow me to share a few reflections over the last year.
What epitomizes our region vast in its development resources and cultural diversity is this ability for national positions to seek compromise as we collectively advance significant policies critical to the management and sustainable development of tuna fisheries in the FFA region. And it is this regional character of togetherness, regional cohesion and building coherent policies that will continue to provide strong pillars in addressing the challenges ahead. And I have been extremely privileged as Chair of this past year in collaborating together with you in implementing our common objectives.
The last year has been a challenging one but I wanted to make mention of a few highlights. On institutional governance the FFA continues to improve its performances and is better responding to the needs of its members in all aspects of fisheries management and developments. And this progress must be acknowledged to you Director General together with the sterling commitment of FFA staff, supported by members and partner agencies. And I believe the audit oversight from the Audit Committee will continue to be an important measure in guiding the work of the Secretariat into the future.
Hon Ministers, the recommitment of Leaders to fisheries and the successful negotiations on the continuance of the US Treaty has been a notable achievement for our region and may I take this occasion to express our appreciation to the hard working officials, together with congruent support from the FFA Secretariat and the PNA Office for the united front that consequently lead to this positive regional outcome.
IUU fishing continues to be a threat to the sustainability of regional fisheries and while progress has been made in some areas of illegal fishing more remains to be done. The influx of Vietnamese Blue Boats blatantly encroaching in our region pose new challenges for FFA and its members in the fight against this type of IUU fishing. While tuna fisheries takes premeditated focus, coastal fisheries is equally significant to the livelihoods of our peoples, and the negative impacts of illegal fishing activities thereof, must be carefully addressed as well.
Putting long line fisheries under effective control is another challenge and while the Tokelau arrangement is an important step for controlling related fishing activities in the southern region, the negotiation of a balanced catch management arrangement is still far from over
and we are extremely confident that negotiations can be concluded over this next period in implementing a suitable and robust regional mechanism in protecting our marine resources and maximizing more economic returns from albacore resources.
On the international front our colleague from Tuvalu and I also represented Ministers at the UN Ocean Conference in New York early last month and I must congratulate the FFA for its presence at this global conference and in particular the Surveillance Picture exhibition which attracted great interest and attention.
At the national level Vanuatu launched its Oceans Policy in April this year and this week a national awareness program has been introduced throughout the Provinces to create more understanding on how we can continue to safeguard this most important asset - the ocean - and its associated resources.
We also celebrated for the first time the United Nations World Tuna Day and part of that national commemoration was the introduction of traditional artistic painting of tuna and tuna fisheries by one of our local artists, which will be presented to the Secretariat during the week.
Before I conclude let me express my deep appreciation to the FFA Director General and his dedicated team for their commitment not only in progressing fisheries issues, but equally their support to me during my time as Chair. I would also like to thank you Ministerial colleagues and everyone involved for making the past year an easier one for me. With one of our most senior officials not returning to the FFA family, may I on behalf of us all express our deep gratitude to the Deputy Director General for outstanding service to FFA and the region and we wish you well with your future endeavours.
Hon Ministers, it now gives me enormous pleasure in welcoming Senator Ruston in assuming Australia's Chair of the Forum Fisheries Ministers Committee and we assure you of our full support throughout your tenure in office. As a symbol of this changeover may I hand over to you this traditional item the tamtam, symbolizing unity through the calling of meetings and consultations.
Thank you, Merci beaucoup, tankiu tumas and may Almighty God grant our region His blessings. "--ENDS