Thursday 8 June 2017
UN Ocean Conference, UNHQ, NYC.- The annual World Ocean Day event is especially significant in 2017, as our Pacific nations take to the global stage at the United Nations Ocean Conference on Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life below water. Congratulations to Fiji and Sweden for the co-hosting and facilitation of this global milestone. 
SDG14’s call to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development has a special significance for the 17 member nations of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, FFA. 
In the Pacific context, the call to sustainable use of the Ocean is a call to responsible stewardship. It formed the founding energy of the FFA Convention in 1979 and has always been at the heart of the Forum Fisheries Agency’s workplan and service to its member nations. Indeed, the conscience and leadership call to the globe on the link between our life and the health of our Oceans has been a SIDS one, with much of that call from this region. 
The auspicious timing of the UN’s first Ocean Conference, putting SDG14 at the core of all the activities this week in New York, has provided a range of opportunities to all UN member nations, including the Pacific nations of the Forum Fisheries Agency, to activate or expand engagement for SDG14 in the UNs global spaces. 
Action at the local and national spaces is what matters most, with the hope that many of the opportunities to strengthen ownership, engagement and partnership are being fostered or strengthened here. As we reach the mid-point of the Ocean Conference, my strongest wish for all our island nations here this week is that we leave with a lasting synergy to ensure the talk translates into actions that shape the sustainable future we want for our Ocean.  Over one thousand voluntary commitments have been registered and if these are all implemented, it will represent an incredible investment in the future of our oceans.
In respect of that future and the 2030 agenda, FFA has added two voluntary commitments. We will be scaling up two key areas where Pacific nations are working towards SDG14 targets for ensuring sustainable fisheries for our region. The first commitment covers Monitoring, Control and Surveillance work against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing.  In partnership with the Australian Governments Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP), FFA will be managing a large scale aerial surveillance program to support existing enforcement efforts. This program will come at a cost of about USD 12.5 million per year and is expected to be rolled out over a 30 year timeframe. The bulk of the funding is generously provided by Australia to contract the surveillance aircraft.  
The second voluntary commitment presents an opportunity to leverage added momentum to implement the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries, endorsed in 2015 by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. The Roadmap steps out the goals, strategies and indicators aimed at ensuring the Future we want for our Oceanic and Coastal Fisheries. It provides a ten year timeframe and annual tracking towards the goals, reporting to Ministers and Forum Leaders on progress and challenges towards targets linked to Sustainability, Value, Employment and Food security for the Tuna Fishery and Empowerment, Resilience and Livelihoods in the Coastal Fishery.  This additional commitment is valued at USD 18 million over 5 years between FFA and our sister organisation, the Pacific Community.
This World Oceans Day 2017 is more than another annual affirmation of regional solidarity, sustainable fisheries, and responsible management for the shared resource powering the economies, livelihoods and futures of our Pacific nations. Truly, the 2017 theme of Our Ocean, Our Future is aptly reflected in a long-held catchphrase in the region -- Our Fish, Our Future. 
Finally, and most importantly, it’s fitting to end this statement with a tribute to the work and vision of our members and the many achievements they are sharing with the world this week. Life below water has no interest in the flags, maritime boundaries, and politics above it. Indeed, the future of the Ocean demands that we begin reframing our approach to Oceans in the same way. Not just because it’s the smart or the right thing to do. But because our sustainable future depends on it.---ENDS.
FFA SDG14 Voluntary Commitment on Integrated Aerial Surveillance
FFA SDG14 Voluntary Commitment on the Future of Fisheries Roadmap
Photocaption: Cook Islands Prime Minister and Minister of Fisheries Henry Puna with FFA Director General James Movick, left. Photocredit: FFAmedia
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) strengthens national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future. Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA's 17 Pacific Island members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.  Since 1979, FFA has facilitated regional cooperation so that all Pacific countries benefit from the sustainable use of tuna – a multi-billion dollar resource important for many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific.
CONTACT FFA MEDIA:  Email:    Tel: + 677 7574230 (Mob.) 
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