PRESS RELEASE: Forum Leaders commit to ensuring long-term sustainability and viability of fisheries resources

HONIARA, 19 September, 2018 -- At their annual summit in Nauru, Pacific Forum Leaders lent their support to a number of recommendations from Forum Fisheries Ministers who had met earlier in the year in July in the Cook Islands.

In particular, Leaders welcomed the official launch of a new aerial surveillance programme as part of the Pacific Maritime Security Programme with Leaders able to view one of the two new surveillance aircraft in Nauru.  The aircraft was in Nauru to take part in a surveillance operation during the week of the Forum meeting.

Further, Leaders committed to supporting the advancement of priorities identified by Fisheries Ministers for negotiations in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) through strengthened Forum engagement and advocacy with Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFN).  “In particular, Leaders noted plans to develop a Regional Longline Strategy to tackle the poor economic performance of longline fishing operations in the region.  Engagements with Forum Dialogue Partners, a number of whom operate large longline fleets in the region including Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan are planned for the weeks ahead, including in the margins of the WCPFC,” said Puna.  Leaders also called on DWFN to remove harmful fisheries subsidies for longline fishing that lead to overcapacity and overfishing, taking note of the difficulties faced by some countries.

Director General of the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) James Movick welcomed recognition by Leaders of broader maritime domain awareness considerations.  “Australia’s decision to work with regional security agencies to establish a Fusion Centre to bring together various streams of information is a timely commitment.  This goes beyond illegal fishing to other security related threats including people trafficking and drug smuggling, and broader environmental threats such as climate change and ocean acidification.  We need to build mechanisms for sharing information, not just between countries but also between sectors.” 

With Fisheries now a standing item on the Forum Leaders’ agenda, Leaders also accepted Fisheries Ministers’ proposal for an annual meeting of Regional Fisheries Ministers, alongside the annual Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) Ministerial meeting, to oversee all regional fisheries issues and determine the issues that will be put to the Forum Leaders’ for their consideration.  “This is an important development that will ensure that all offshore and coastal fisheries issues are given appropriate oversight by Fisheries Ministers as well as the outcomes of regional processes relating to fisheries such as the Taskforce on increasing economic returns that involves a number of regional organisations including FFA, PIFS, PNAO and SPC,” said Puna.

Prime Minister Puna is the current chair of the FFC, the governing body of the FFA, having assumed the year long tenure during the Cook Islands hosting of the FFC Ministers’ meeting in the Cook Islands in July this year.

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For more information, please contact Donna Hoerder, [email protected], ph: +677 21124

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA was established to help their 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int

About Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Cook Islands

The Ministry was founded in 1984. The role of Foreign Affairs and its overseas offices is to provide Government with advice on the conduct of Cook Islands’ foreign policy, identify and understand international trends, opportunities and risks that may impact the Cook Islands and offer advice on how to protect and advance its interests. The Ministry also acts as the official channel of communication between the Government of the Cook Islands and other Governments and between the Government and International Organisations. The role of Immigration is to ensure our borders are protected by effectively screening entry and departure of people to the Cook Islands and facilitate the movement of labour while maintaining social harmony. http://www.mfai.gov.ck/