President Dr. Hilda C Heine.

Press Statement: Office of the President Republic of the Marshall Islands

The President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Her Excellency Dr Hilda C Heine, has today called on Pacific nations to commit to a 2023 target for the abolition of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

President Heine said the RMI believed that a target was necessary because despite current efforts, IUU remained a significant issue in the region.

“IUU has devastating consequences. It is organised crime that affects socio-economic growth and future generations and the Pacific has shown itself to be vulnerable.”

President Heine was speaking at the annual meeting of the Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC) of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

President Heine defined elimination by 2023 as “a material decline in IUU fishing, to the point that the practice is rare”.

During her keynote address, President Heine said: “A five-year target to eliminate IUU fishing by 2023 is bold but the stakes are too high not to be audacious in the goals we set. If we are serious about combating IUU, we need a tougher mindset.”

To help focus the Pacific’s efforts on a 2023 target, President Heine urged the adoption of five strategies over five years – a 5-for-5 program – involving Communication, Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Diplomacy. Details are:
• Communication – Profile raising to increase public understanding of IUU issues and combative strategies.
• Cooperation – Improving information sharing among Pacific States and other stakeholders, to more effectively combat IUU.
• Innovation – Development of process and technology innovations that will accelerate the decline of IUU activities.
• Engagement – Assisting fishing industry improvements in countries susceptible to IUU, so they are de-incentivised to engage in illegal activities.
• Diplomacy – Applying more political pressure to governments that tolerate IUU.
President Heine said the RMI looked forward to working with other Pacific States to commit to a 2023 target if there was broad agreement that it would be valuable for creating a sense of urgency about the issue.

“Enough is enough,” said President Heine. “A business-as-usual approach won’t get us where we need to go. It’s time to commit to a target and do everything we can to achieve it.”