Industry Meets in Auckland, thanks New Zealand; PITIA appoints new chairman

Following the successful meeting of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation on regional fisheries, the Pacific Island Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) held its annual general meeting on May 16th in Auckland.

PITIA members from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Niue, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Nauru met to discuss a wide range of challenges to successful development of domestic tuna fisheries and to review the work program and budget of PITIA.

One of the key elements of discussion was capacity building to ensure that well qualified personnel are available to fill key positions across the domestic tuna fishing sector. The Association extended a big thank you to New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), which funded a Short Term Training Award that was up for review at the meeting. That award has enabled Pacific Island tuna industry personnel to study and earn certificates for both deck and engine room qualifications. Because the program has been very successful to date, PITIA urged MFAT to continue the program and also noted the flexibility that New Zealand had demonstrated by allowing for the addition of laboratory technician training to the program.

Turning to other matters during the annual gathering, PITIA noted the confusion currently prevalent across the region in regard to the standardization of fisheries statutory certificates. PITIA suggested that regional standardization towards the New Zealand STCW F qualifications framework for fisheries certification would be the logical way to progress and resolve this issue. PITIA is hopeful that MFAT will consider picking this up as a funded project to advance with key Pacific Island Maritime and Fisheries Administrations.

At the meeting, PITIA acknowledged the assistance of Environmental Defense Fund, who funded the developments of PITIA’s website and supports advancement of its communications strategy. Members also appointed Mr. Brett Hayward from Fiji Fishing Industry Association as the new Chairman of PITIA. Welcome, Brett!