Pacific Fisheries Ministers advance regional fisheries priorities

 

Fisheries Ministers from member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) have advanced regional fisheries priorities at their 20th meeting which concluded in Majuro, Marshall Islands recently.

In his remarks to Minister, the Honourable John Silk, Minister for Natural Resources and Commerce of the Marshall Islands and incoming Ministerial Chair, emphasised, “We need each other, we need the efforts of all of us to ensure that this canoe that symbolises our Pacific way of life and culture would be able to sail the high seas despite the stormy weathers that may come and despite the problems we face. If we can preserve and use our paddle wisely, we would be able to discover a new future for the generation after us.”

Key regional fisheries priorities included: addressing the impacts of climate change on fisheries, combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, progressing US Tuna Treaty negotiations, setting out principles for donor engagement, and strengthening regional collaboration.

Addressing Climate Change impacts

Fisheries Ministers welcomed the priority that the FFA is placing on work to respond to the impacts of climate change, and reaffirmed that climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific, particularly vulnerable Small Island Developing States and Territories.

Ministers also called for the impacts of climate change on ocean fisheries resources in the region to be raised internationally at the highest levels.

Further, Ministers laid down the components of the regional climate change policy by endorsing six high-level objectives:

Objective 1: Actioning Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience; Objective

2: Achieving Climate Justice; Objective

3: Accessing Climate Finance; Objective

4: Contributing to Mitigation; Objective

5: Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening; Objective

6: Advocacy and Engagement.

Combatting Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing

Whilst acknowledging efforts to combat IUU fishing including the regional integrated framework for monitoring, control and surveillance, Ministers called on Members to enhance efforts, and reiterated the need to continually strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance systems and capabilities of the membership and urged greater collaboration to explore appropriate technologies and systems.

Ministers also welcomed Australia’s support to double the aerial surveillance funding from 2024 and enabling provision of additional satellite radio frequency data to enhance FFA Members maritime domain awareness.

Progressing US Tuna Treaty negotiations

Ministers welcomed the completion of negotiations with the United States on the new 10-year Economic Assistance Agreement (EAA) and the signature by the FFA Director-General in her capacity as the Administrator of the Treaty. The new EAA provides FFA Members with a total of US$600 million over a 10-year period from 2023-2033. Ministers urged their officials to resolve the outstanding renegotiation issues with the United States as a matter of priority.

Principles for donor engagement

Ministers endorsed the Principles for FFA Engagement in Regional Tuna Fisheries Project Partnerships with Donors, and emphasised the principle of inclusivity and that the FFA will ensure that all SIDS Members are treated equally and have equitable access to funds. These principles set the parameters for FFA’s engagement with donors and ensures that the FFA remains Member driven.

New Caledonia

For the first time a Minister from New Caledonia observed the Ministerial meeting with the view to strengthen collaboration with FFA Members. Ministers welcomed the request from the Government of New Caledonia and recognised the opportunity to enhance relations given the common interests, including in the effective management of South Pacific albacore and more broadly in the longline fishery.

Enhancing regional cooperation

Outgoing Ministerial Chair Minister Ribanataake Awira of Kiribati reminded Ministers, “Let us remain true to our calling as custodian of our shared tuna resources for the benefit of the people, we are called to serve. Let us also accept the fact that among our membership, each of us have different advantages, and the only way forward is to complement each other, to ensure that we don’t leave anyone behind. Let us advance our common goal of focusing on innovative and sustainable transformation of our ocean resources, to create a wealthier, healthier and a more prosperous nation and region for our people.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen warmly congratulated Ministers and Officials and expressed appreciation “for the steadfast support and trust that Members place in the Secretariat as we continue to facilitate stronger regional cooperation to ensure that our fisheries are sustainable for the future of our people.”

The 20th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting was attended by Ministers representing Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu. A Minister from New Caledonia observed the meeting. Nauru, New Zealand, Tonga, and Vanuatu were represented at senior official level.

 

Media Contact:
Ernest Ta'asi
FFA Communications Officer
e: ernest.ta’[email protected]
About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
FFA assists its 17-member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management. Find out more here: www.ffa.int

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