Regional cooperation vital for fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

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HONIARA The cooperative work between the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) member countries is vital in the fight against the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU), says the Deputy Director General Wez Norris.

Mr Norris says cooperation is one of the biggest determinants of sustainable fishing in the Pacific region.

He says, without cooperation none of the successes of operations against IUU fishing in the Pacific region would have been achieved.

“There is no other international cooperation in fisheries on this sort of scale that we’re aware of.

“Again, it comes down to a very long history of Pacific countries working together in cooperative fisheries management that really makes it work,” the deputy director general of the region’s biggest fisheries network says.

Wez Norris, FFA Deputy Director believes regional cooperation is the key to sustainable fishing in the Pacific

Norris explains two critical factors in the Pacific region leads to the small island developing states (SIDS) coming together to have such high impact operations against IUU.

Firstly, are the co-operative operations between SIDS, including the Tui Moana (covering the Polynesian countries), Rai Balang (the Micronesian states), Island Chief (Melanesian countries), and Operation Kurukuru, which covers the whole of the Pacific region.

Norris says this cooperation between SIDS would not work without each country freely and openly sharing its information with each other and with partner organisations, including the FFA..

The second critical factor in the fight against IUU is the support FFA receives from the quadrilateral surveillance providers: Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States.

“There is no other international cooperation in fisheries on this sort of scale that we’re aware of, “ Norris says.

“Again, it comes down to a very long history of these countries working together on fisheries management that really makes it work.

“The combination of having that open relationship amongst the countries then having a supportive role that the secretariat can play through the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre {RFSC) is critical”.

Phil Rowe who is the Surveillance Training and Liaison Officer at the RFSC also stresses the importance of cooperation.

Mr Rowe says, without the regional partners, they would not be able to combat IUU.

“Without our regional partners, we can’t conduct the operations and we won’t be out there looking for illegal fishing activity.

“So it’s vitally important that we get support from all those concerned,” Rowe says.

Author: Ronald Toitoona

BA Journalism & Political Science