Annual Forum Fisheries Ministerial meeting kicks off in Micronesia

POHNPEI, 16 June 2019 – The 16th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting begins tomorrow in Pohnpei, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia, and will tackle a broad range of issues aimed at protecting and securing the long term interests of Pacific Island countries over the region’s valuable tuna resources.

“The Western and Central Pacific is home to the biggest tuna fishery in the world and 60 percent of the catch is taken from the waters of FFA member countries – amounting to around 30 percent of global tuna catches. So this is a critical meeting for the region. Ministers recognise that we must ensure our major offshore resource – tuna – is not only managed sustainably, but that we increase the social and economic benefits that it provides for our Pacific people,” said Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen, Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.

The meeting which brings together Fisheries Ministers and high level delegates from across the region is being hosted by the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) and chaired by the Honourable Marion Henry, Secretary of the Department of Resources and Development.

Key priorities that will be tabled are:

• The new FFA Strategic Plan 2020-2025 which will provide direction for the work of the FFA and its Members over the coming five years
• The impact of climate change on tuna fisheries and working in collaboration with regional and international partners to help FFA Members mitigate and adapt to these impacts
• Finalising a new Regional Longline Strategy to underpin strengthened management of longline fisheries, particularly on the high seas, and improved profitability for Pacific Island longline operations
• Addressing human rights abuses and labour conditions for crew on fishing vessels to ensure there is no place for modern slavery in Pacific tuna fisheries
• Technology for Tuna Transparency (T3) Challenge which looks at using electronic monitoring to tackle Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and improve transparency of tuna catches
• The areas of ongoing work by the Secretariat and Members to combat IUU fishing with a particular focus on emerging technologies, electronic reporting and electronic monitoring, Persons of Interest and the Regional Aerial Surveillance Programme.
• Agreed priorities to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in December.

In addition, for the first time there will be an additional one-day meeting of Fisheries Ministers to consider wider fisheries issues including coastal fisheries management and the impacts of marine pollution. “This is an exciting development and will ensure greater cooperation by all regional agencies working on fisheries and ensure Ministers are able to provide effective oversight of all fisheries issues in the region” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

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