Food security, climate financing and community-based fisheries are key concerns for Pacific fisheries ministers

Honiara, Tuesday 6th August 2021–  Last week, the Pacific Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting took place online addressing regional priorities for the Pacific’s coastal fisheries, aquaculture and marine sectors. The gathering included fisheries ministers and officials from the Pacific Island Forum countries and territories, as well as regional organisations and observers.

“Today is a call for concerted action, particularly on some issues that have historically been addressed in isolation,” Fiji Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau observed as he addressed the Pacific Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting (RFMM) as its new chair.I am hopeful that we can bridge the gaps and ensure that our decisions are holistic in nature, and are beneficial to our people. Cooperation and a coordinated approach are important. Our people expect us to make traction with some of these key issues because they affect livelihoods, economies, and the sustainability of our resources.”

An outcomes document, published today, tabled the group’s commitment to action and tasking of regional organisations.

The key outcomes included:     

   Endorsement of The Pacific Framework for Action on Scaling-up Community-Based Fisheries Management (CBFM). CBFM is a management approach that is community-driven and encompasses an ecosystem approach that will sustain livelihoods and resilient island communities. This endorsement is a strong regional commitment to empower and value the coastal communities' work to sustain the coastal fisheries in the region.

     Tasking fisheries officials to work with national climate change focal points to have greater access to climate financing and to increase advocacy on fisheries as a key issue to be considered in the climate change and oceans Pacific priority area.

   Encouraging the Pacific Islands Forum to closely consult fisheries ministries, as well as related regional agencies, as work continues on the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, which was called for by Pacific Forum Leaders at their meeting in 2019.

A five year, $NZD 14million funding package from the New Zealand Government to support Pacific Community (SPC) programmes for improved food security, livelihoods, and economic and environmental resilience in the Pacific was also announced at the meeting.

The New Zealand Minister for Pacific Peoples and Minister for Courts, Aupito William Sio, said, “We note that the coastal fisheries resources have been under increasing pressure as a result of climate change, pollution, and, as noted at last year’s Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting, the impacts of COVID-19. The new project will build on the significant progress made over the last five years in developing and implementing relevant legal and policy frameworks, setting biosecurity standards, and providing business and technical training for aquaculture enterprises.” 

In closing the meeting, Fiji Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau, reminded ministers, “we are stronger together, and as a region we can overcome all obstacles if we keep harnessing our collective strengths.”

Media contacts:

Ms. Kuini Waqasavou, Senior Media Officer, Ministry of Fisheries, Fiji E:[email protected]

Toky Rasoloarimanana, Communications Officer, Fisheries Division, Pacific Community  l [email protected], Mob : +687  89 93 94

Lisa Williams-Lahari, Public Affairs Adviser, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) l [email protected]

Nanette Woonton, Communications and Outreach Adviser, Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) l [email protected]

Samantha Mattila, Strategic Communications Manager, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) l [email protected], Ph: +61 434567673

About the Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting

The Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting is a joint event launched in 2020, following the 2018 decision by Forum leaders to have more comprehensive updates on fisheries work from the Pacific regional organisations - the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

The 19 members of the RFMM are: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Fisheries Ministers report to Forum Leaders under the Standing Item on Fisheries including on progress against the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Fisheries and providing advice and recommendations on fisheries issues requiring Leaders’ attention. The Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meetings and their focus on Oceanic fisheries, continues to be led by the Forum Fisheries Agency, FFA and also reports directly to Forum Leaders.