Trump administration to work together with Palau, FSM, and RMI to combat IUU fishing

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Donald Trump poses with the presidents of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States. Photo by US Department of Interior.

The United States, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia have made commitments to work together to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).

In a historic meeting with US President Donald Trump on May 21st, Presidents of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, FSM ‘s David Panuelo and Palau’s Tommy Remengesau Jr., the four nations agreed that one of the region’s most pressing issue is IUU.

In a joint statement following the meeting the leaders stated, “we resolve to continue develop joint initiatives, both bilaterally and through multilateral forums, such as the Pacific Islands Forum, to tackle the region’s most pressing issues, including responding to natural disasters; combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; advancing economic development; strengthening the rule of law; and supporting the resiliency of the Pacific islands environment.”

President Heine said during the talks in Washington that her country deals with illegal ship entries, supposedly for fishing all the time.

Aa press briefing by US administration officials on May 20 said illegal fishing is one of the security concerns in the Pacific region.

“President Trump is really looking forward to discussing our shared security concerns, and that includes things like countering illegal and unregulated and underreported fishing; it includes addressing transnational crime and trafficking; and of course, the protection of all the nation’s sovereignty as part of the free and open Indo-Pacific,” the officials told reporters.

Although the joint statement between Trump and the FAS leaders did not mention climate change, officials said that the US will be assisting all the Pacific Island nations in strengthening their resilience against natural disasters, rising sea levels, soil erosion, invasive species, and more.”

US Acting Secretary of Defence, Patrick Shanahan, in his meeting with the leaders reiterated the United States commitment to “working with you to address common security challenges such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”

A report on the impact of IUU fishing prepared for the Forum Fisheries Agency in 2016 catch associated with illegal fishing is valued over $US600 million annually, with the direct economic loss to FFA members of around US$150 million.

Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Ludwig Kumoru last year said eliminating IUU fishing is a core part of the fisheries management work.

 “Working together to eliminate IUU will enhance sustainable and economically viable fisheries for the benefit of everyone,” he said.

The FFA and PNA are calling for the support of Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs), to eliminate IUU fishing.

“We want them on board and to understand this is a collective effort of the FFA and PNA to implement a best practice strategy to effectively track and hold offenders accountable,” said Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen, Director General of the FFA.

In February this year, Micronesian nations that include Palau, RMI and FSM committed to uniting to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) in the Pacific by 2023. in the Pacific.

At the 19th Micronesia Presidents’ Summit on 21 February, Palau, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Nauru signed a communique supporting an IUU Free Pacific by 2023 – a challenge was set up by RMI.

“It is important to build on the momentum we have at the national and regional level to combat IUU and to give it a goal or a target if you will. Imagine an IUU Free Pacific by 2023,” RMI President Hilda Heine said during the summit in Palau.