FFCMIN14: 'Tuna is everything' to Pacific nations, says value-adding champion. (PNG statement)
FFCMIN14 Country Statement delivered by Deputy MD for PNG National Fisheries Authority, Philip Polon.
I take this opportunity to thank the Australian government authorities for the hospitality and arrangements since our arrival here. On behalf of the Government of Papua New Guinea, I wish to join the Honourable Ministers and distinguished Head of Delegations from other FFA Member Countries in congratulating you on your assumption of the chair for the 14th Ministerial Meeting of the Forum Fisheries Committee. Papua New Guinea believes that through your able leadership, this meeting will be able to achieve its desired outcomes in the true spirit of the FFA convention and the cooperation of pacific countries in reaching consensus on issues of common interest.
I also take this opportunity to convey sincere apologies on behalf of my Minister who is not here due to the National General Elections currently underway. I also wish to convey PNG’s appreciation and gratitude to the outgoing chair (Vanuatu) for the tireless efforts and meaningful contributions devoted to member countries through the FFC processes such as this meeting and we truly envy your leadership.
Since this is (almost) the last Ministerial Meeting for the incumbent FFA Director General, it is only fitting that we offer our sincere gratitude to Mr. James Movick for his steadfast commitment and dedication in serving each and every member country. Under his wise and tactful leadership, the FFA ship has overcome the roughest and toughest seas ever known. DG, I would like thank you and your wonderful family that have supported you all throughout your term in office. Let this be not your final voyage.
Chair In delivering this statement for PNG, I would like to commence by stressing to all Members to respect and uphold the unique Pacific Way of Decision Making
through Cooperation and partnership. PNG believes and hopes that this is and will always be the case in all FFC forums.
We must protect and promote our true island spirit that upholds common purpose and has over many years, ensured our very survival.
Chair, PNG would like to recognize the independence, sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Members in managing fisheries resources that exist in their sovereign national jurisdictions in support of their respective national development agendas. On the same token, PNG would like to recognize the impartiality of the FFA Secretariat, the personnel, processes and procedures involved in reaching important decisions on agreed input controls and sound underlying principles of our resolve for the common good of all Member Countries.
Chair, There are many important issues before the Ministers for deliberation. As we deliberate on those issues, I wish to draw your attention to the following points:
Firstly, tuna is the only single most important resource we have in the Pacific Region that sustains the livelihoods of our people and our small economies. We depend on the revenue from tuna to support our small budgets to address our employment issues, eradicate poverty, achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals; and to deliver health, education and other vital services in our island communities.
Secondly, tuna is everything to the Pacific Islands Countries and we must get value for money from our tuna resources. We must not continue to depend on fisheries access fees or rents from the use of our oceans and seas to sustain our livelihood and our economies. This is unsustainable in the long run and therefore we must take serious actions to develop our domestic tuna industries, set up tuna processing plants in our Islands that will set a firm foundation for the long-term sustainability of our economies.
Papua New Guinea therefore fully supports the Regional Roadmap on establishing regional processing hubs in partnership between countries. This is very important and this 14th FFC Ministerial must give clear and firm direction for this goal to be pursued forthwith.
Thirdly, in this regard, we need to ensure that the deliberations and the decisions we make at in this meeting must give clear focus and priority in achieving this important goal.
Further, we need to ensure that the annual work program of FFA, SPC and other relevant CROP Agencies, along with the commitment of resources, organizational setups, and recruitment of expertise are designed to provide the necessary support to the Pacific Island Countries to achieve this objective.
Chair, Papua New Guinea is of the view that several key issues are evident in the Agenda before us, principal of which is the focus on strengthening regional cooperation and streamlining the Agency’s focus on robust regional management and conservation of our fisheries resource.
Papua New Guinea is committed to working in close partnership with all stakeholders to implement regional initiatives pertained in the Regional Fisheries Roadmap and SPC’s New Song, and others that entail protective measures of this natural resource, which must be strictly harmonized amongst all FFA members.
Papua New Guinea having said so many times before, we can only succeed, when countries truly own and lead their national development plans and strategies whilst integrating international and regional commitments, which are in constant change.
Chair, Papua New Guinea welcomes donor partners providing funding support to the FFA Secretariat to pursue its important work programs. However, we need to ensure that, in the pretext of providing such support, they must not be allowed to place a burden to the Agency’s focus in achieving the true purposes and objectives for which it was stablished for the members.
In doing so, PNG maintains that the Agency should focus on the effective management of its internal structures in order to modernize the usage and promotion of strategies and compatible systems, that complement national programs, in recognizing the sovereignty and independence of Island states to control (develop, promote and protect) their own fisheries.
Chair, We are encouraged by the positive level of cooperation amongst the various fisheries organizations in the region, each demonstrating a greater capacity and control in fulfilling this goal, and it is a pleasure to note that after the various reviews and studies the Secretariat is now equipped with greater depth of understanding the practicalities of fisheries in this region and most importantly finding suitable and meaningful solutions.
The challenge remains for PNG to convert the observed economic growth and transformations into improved practical human development outcomes to achieve our national priorities. We have taken on the responsibility as the biggest tuna processing country in the region and will look to enhancing this beyond national boundaries. This should then result in PNG achieving the regional and international initiatives going forward.
Chair, At a sub-regional level, PNG will strengthen its commitment to PNA and other “island” driven fisheries initiatives that promotes zone-based fisheries management. We continue to support the Vessel Day Scheme developed by PNA members and how it has been proven to be effective in providing sustainable revenue to its members. PNG is also supports the gradual build-up of the Vessel Day Scheme for the long line fishery as a way forward to manage this fishery.
PNG is also committed to the US Treaty under the current arrangements, which is progressing well and anticipates ratifying the agreed amendments in time.
Finally, Papua New Guinea is looking forward to a fruitful deliberation on the issues before the Ministers to make the 14th FFC Ministerial Meeting a success for our people.