PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — In response to Peter M. Christian, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, calling for complete transparency in FSM’s commercial tuna fisheries by 2023, from April 10 to 12, the Technology for Tuna Transparency or T-3 Challenge Electronic Monitoring Symposium was held at PMA Studio in Pohnpei State.
Sponsored by the FSM National Government through the National Oceanic Management Resource Authority, and by The Nature Conservancy, the Forum Fisheries Agency, and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, the symposium explored how electronic monitoring or EM fits into control and surveillance to support sustainable fisheries, how EM is presently being used in the Western and Central Pacific, EM in the seafood supply chain, how to scale EM for increased use in the FSM and the Pacific, and moving forward with a regional vision for tuna transparency through EM.
Marcelo Peterson, governor of Pohnpei State, provided the welcoming remarks. “If over 50 percent of the global tuna supply comes from our part of the world, then we must do everything it takes to ensure its sustainable management through the use of new technologies such as EM. EM will help assure us the long-term sustainability of these resources.”
National Oceanic Management Resource Authority Executive Director Eugene Pangelinan provided the introductory remarks. He noted that in attendance were ambassadors and ministers of sovereign nations, such as George Fraser of Australia and Alexis Maino of Papua New Guinea, and Dennis Momotaro, minister of resources and development for the the Marshall Islands, representatives of key local and regional partners such as the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and regional stakeholders such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji Fisheries, the Australia Fisheries Management Authority, and global partners such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Fishing Watch, and many more.
He said: “How often do we get all interested parties in the same room on the same platform with equal opportunity to speak freely?… Let us start the conversation of regionally aligning all the moving parts…to talk about EM…. My wish is that at the close of this symposium we’ll all be more informed and inspired to…implement EM programs.”
Marion Henry, secretary of the Department of Resources & Development, spoke on behalf of FSM President Christian to provide the keynote address. “You have traveled from afar to be here today, which is a solid testimony of your commitment to address this growing problem within our midst…. I urge full and frank discussions and sharing of information on the use of EM to assist in our continuing fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and transnational crimes being committed in our backyards…. I believe that our countries, as resource custodians, must follow the trend by also utilizing EM for our own purposes and our own advantages…. Past our recognized borders, we collectively carry the responsibility for effective stewardship of this important resource for the sake of posterity and humankind.”
Alexis Maino, roving ambassador of PNG to the FSM, provided additional remarks. “The challenges of monitoring and controlling our vast maritime territories are many.… Today, we embrace the move towards a far more advanced stage of electronic monitoring systems which we hope will result in promoting elements of transparency for sustainable fisheries management. PNG welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively with other Pacific Island countries, including members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement at all levels to develop and implement electronic monitoring capabilities across the entire region.”
Participants attending the EM symposium enjoyed a variety of frank and open conversations, with sessions primarily comprised of panel discussions.
EM, at its core, is about putting video cameras on fishing vessels — and, in conjunction with machine learning and artificial intelligence, with assistance from on-the-boat work from observers and data analysis, greatly improves transparency, data quality, and decision-making with regards to a given fishery’s operation. To emphasize the need for EM, it was advised during the symposium that 90 percent of global fisheries don’t have the basic data they need to become sustainable — either environmentally, or economically; EM helps to provide the data necessary to make these fisheries sustainable. EM has shown in Australia, for example, a 25 percent increase in retained catch relative to dependent and independent reporting.
The recent Pacific Community (SPC) 11th Heads of Fisheries meeting held in Noumea, New Caledonia from 11-13 March 2019 has been briefed on a large marine partnership initiative to improve economic, social and environmental benefits for Pacific states.
The PEUMP programme addresses some of the most serious challenges faced by the region such as the increasing depletion of coastal fisheries resources; threats to marine biodiversity, including negative impacts of climate change and disasters; the uneven contribution of oceanic fisheries to national economic development; the need for improved education and training in the sector; and the need to mainstream a rights-based approach and promote greater recognition of gender issues within the sector.
It focuses on six key areas targeting gaps in fisheries science; fisheries development; coastal resources and livelihoods; Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing; ecosystem-based management; biodiversity conservation; and capacity building at national and community levels.
Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner reaffirmed the role of the EU as a reliable and close partner of the Pacific and said: ”The Pacific–European Union Marine Partnership Programme supports the sustainable management of fisheries, food security and blue growth in the Pacific region, in line with the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries. The oceans are a life force that sustains our planet and every person on it. Therefore it is so important to join up in the Pacific and set an example on how to manage marine resources more sustainably.”
Speaking on behalf of Sweden, Åsa Hedén, Head of Development Cooperation, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific said: “Following the New York Ocean conference co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden in 2017, Sweden presented its largest national budget for supporting environment, ocean and climate initiatives. In this commitment, we recognise the PEUMP programme as a unique intervention with its multi-sectoral approach with different stakeholders at regional, national and local levels working towards sustainable management of the Ocean. As a co-financier, we are pleased to be part of this initiative. It is evident that the PEUMP programme has taken on a serious people-centred approach to promote direct opportunities and positive changes for the people of the Pacific Islands, targeting women, men, youth and vulnerable groups.”
The SPC is leading implementation of the multi-partner programme which is working in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Vanuatu.
SPC’s Director General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said: “As the largest region on Earth and with climate change being more widely recognised as an immediate and pressing priority, the Pacific region will quickly become a hub for international climate change research and a focus for debates around conservation and resource management. The Blue Pacific narrative will ensure that our region has a leading, independent and united voice on these issues. The PEUMP partnership will provide further support to help ensure that, as stewards of the Pacific, we are working collaboratively to manage and preserve our ocean resources to ensure a sustainable future.”
APIA, 28 February 2019 – The Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi and FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise Samoa’s support for the FFA’s Regional Aerial Surveillance Program.
The Regional Aerial Surveillance initiative is funded by Australia as part of the Pacific Maritime Security Program to enhance the surveillance capacity of Pacific Island countries to deter, detect and respond to illegal or security-related activities occurring in their Exclusive Economic Zones.
Under the MoU, Samoa will host one and Vanuatu the other, of two King Air200 aircrafts fitted with high-tech sensors, avionics and communications technologies, capable of detecting fishing vessels over a wide area of ocean. Dr Tupou-Roosen said the MoU with Samoa was another significant step forward.
“I wish to acknowledge the generous support of the Government of Australia to strengthen the surveillance capabilities of participating Members through the Pacific Maritime Security Program. This will enable the FFA to assist Pacific islands countries in further addressing maritime surveillance needs and enforcement operations,” said Hon. Tuilaepa Malielegaoi.
“The surveillance programme, in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat program, will provide targeted maritime patrolling and enhance the ability of Pacific island countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as illegal fishing and transnational crime,” he added.
“The Marshall Islands signed a similar agreement earlier this month and now Samoa is also demonstrating leadership with its willingness to host one of the King Aircraft. Our Members are contributing to a new level of regional cooperation, with Australia funding the Program and the FFA Secretariat managing the planes and working in close consultation with Members,” said FFA DG, Dr. Tupou-Roosen.
The Regional Aerial Surveillance Program commenced in December 2017. Two King Air aircrafts will provide 1400 hours of aerial surveillance per year for 15 FFA Members.
About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
FFA assists its 17-member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management.
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About Samoa Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)
The Ministry is responsible for the administration of Government’s business with foreign countries and their governments as well as international organizations. It also endeavours to initiate and continue to provide high quality and professional policy advice to Government on the management of Samoa’s foreign and trade relations. The Ministry is committed to promoting Samoa’s national interests to achieve most benefits in relation to political, trade and economic and security
The European Union says its new funding agreement with marine agencies in the Pacific will help prevent fish laundering in the region.
The EU, along with Sweden, has pledged $US52 million to working with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community, the Regional Environment Programme and the University of the South Pacific over the next five years.
Christopher Wagner of the EU delegation for the Pacific said illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is theft and tighter rules are essential.
Mr Wagner said much of the fish caught in Pacific waters is transferred from one ship to another and up to eighty percent of it is processed in Asian countries.
“What we are supporting through this programme is to develop new technologies and monitoring, for example drones, we are also working through the FFA (Forum Fisheries Association) with the countries to look more at trans-shipments. For example many of these days, you know that term money laundering, and there’s also something called fish laundering,” Christopher Wagner said.
Mr Wagner said some of the funding will go towards better regulation of illegal catches passing through Pacific ports, with more prosecutions and higher fines.
He said coastal fisheries management, marine science and biodiversity projects will also receive a boost from the funding which was announced at last week’s Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru.
Four key regional agencies have signed a deal with the European Union to help promote sustainable management and sound ocean governance in the Pacific.
The agencies, the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Pacific Community, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the University of the South Pacific, have signed the deal this week in Nauru.
Called, the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership Programme, it will address, among other things, the depletion of fish resources and the threat to marine biodiversity, including climate change and disasters.
EU representative Jean-Louis Ville said there was an urgent need to act.
“We trust that we are now at the right time to form a joint alliance and coalition on issues related to international ocean governance for which the Pacific European programme will form a very solid foundation,” he said.
The five year programme is funded by the European Union providing $US40.5 million ($NZ61.8 million) and the government of Sweden $US11.6m ($NZ17.7m).
It will be used to support regional and national level activities in the Pacific.
US extends military spending in Pacific
The United States said it planned to give $US7m in military spending to Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Tonga.
Speaking in Nauru, US Secretary for Interior Ryan Zinke said the money would support training equipment and other security co-operation priorities identified by these Pacific nations.
In addition, the US will provide $US750,000 a year in international military exercise and training to PNG, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa to support training for military and police forces.
The US will also assist PNG with harbour security during APEC in Port Moresby in November.
It is part of the $US290m commitment by the US to support foreign militaries in the Indo-Pacific region.
Following concerns raised by the Pacific Islands Forum last year, the US offered to support Pacific Islands countries implement the United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea.
Australia offers new assistance to Nauru
Australia has announced new assistance to Nauru to help fight disease, empower women and support next year’s elections.
Canberra’s providing an extra $US1.01m to help fight non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Another $US720,000 will go towards supporting women’s empowerment over the next three years.
Nearly half a million will go towards building up the Nauru Electoral Office in a programme which New Zealand is also funding.
Australia said the plan was to create a better-informed electorate and implement more transparent and inclusive electoral processes.
The extra assistance was announced on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru.
All up, Australia’s planning to spend more than $US18.6m to support Nauru in the coming year.
New Zealand and Japan are to work together to ensure the success of the Pacific Climate Change Centre in Samoa.
New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters says New Zealand is committed to supporting climate change action across the Pacific and it sees the Pacific Climate Change Centre as a key regional institution.
He says the Climate Change Centre will help Pacific nations combat the impacts of climate change over the coming decades.
The centre is already under construction at the Apia campus of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Environment Programme in Apia and expected to open in the middle of next year.
Mr Peters says New Zealand is putting up US$1.96 million dollars for the centre.
Forum Fisheries Ministers announced the appointment of the incoming Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen, at the conclusion of the 15th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting which was held in the Cook Islands on 3-5 July and chaired by Cook Islands Prime Minister and Minister of Marine Resources, Honourable Henry Puna.
“We are delighted to announce Dr Tupou-Roosen as the new Director General of FFA. She is very committed to the FFA’s role as a facilitator of regional cooperation on fisheries management within the Pacific region and has excellent strategies for leading the FFA into the next decade as it helps members develop their offshore fisheries,” Honourable Puna said.
He added that “The best thing about it all is that the decision was by unanimous agreement of all of the Fisheries Ministers.”
Responding to her appointment, Dr Tupou-Roosen, who is currently head of the FFA Legal Services, said: “I am very humbled to be chosen as the incoming Director General and sincerely thank our Members for this great honour.”
“I very much look forward to working with Deputy Director-General Matt Hooper and all of our staff to serve our Members. We have a clear mission to ensure the sustainable use of our offshore fishery resources increases the economic and social benefits for all our Pacific people and I am committed to following through on that mission.”
“I see Empowerment, Communication and Collaboration as critical tools to ensuring successful Cooperation and to ensuring our Pacific people prosper. Strengthening our mechanisms to combat IUU fishing and enhancing social benefits will also be top of mind for me. I will be making these a priority when I take up the role.”
The selection process for the Director General was extensive and ran over a twelve-month period. Dr Tupou-Roosen will take up her new position in mid-November 2018, replacing Mr James Movick, who has held the role since 2008.
Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen
Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen has worked for nearly 20 years in the area of fisheries, including 13 years as the FFA Legal Counsel. In this role she has been responsible for providing legal and strategic advice to the Director General on significant Agency-wide issues.
Dr Tupou-Roosen gained a Masters of Law in 1997 under a NZ scholarship with a focus on International Fisheries and achieved First Class Honours. She also gained a PhD in Law in 2004 under a Commonwealth Scholarship, with a focus on International and Regional Fisheries Compliance.
In pursuing her education, Dr Tupou-Roosen was always intent on returning and serving in the area of fisheries in our region.
In her role as Legal Counsel of the FFA, Dr Tupou-Roosen had a long list of achievements, including:
Leading the drafting group on the revised texts of the US Tuna Treaty and its related instruments during the negotiations from 2009-2016;
Driving the successful implementation of the multilateral Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement at regional and national levels, including securing funds to support implementation at the regional level through an in-house legal advisor position for this specific work, and for in-country work at the national level;
Initiating innovative ways of dealing with issues, such as developing a strategy to broaden the Agency’s approach to addressing IUU fishing from a vessel-focus to include profiling the actual IUU fishers (Persons of Interest), which has been supported by Members;
Directing the revision of the Harmonised Minimum Terms and Conditions (MTCs) for the safety of observers, and led Secretariat support to Members in the lead-up to adoption of the Observer Safety measure by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission;
Initiating the comprehensive review of the MTCs in 2013 and 2014 and re-established its role as a strategic tool to set leading in-zone standards to drive compatible measures for the high seas;
Forging an effective partnership with SPC to deliver legislative reviews and maritime boundaries solutions;
Initiating the Legal Graduate Programme to ensure that nationals of FFA member countries are exposed to, and interested in, fisheries at an early stage in their careers.
In a move to enhance tuna fisheries management in the Pacific, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) committed NZD 4.9million to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) yesterday.
This funding will be used by FFA to support a project that will establish and enhance catch documentation schemes (CDS) for FFA members over the next five years. The new Grant Funding Agreement was signed by Fletcher Tabuteau, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, New Zealand and FFA Deputy Director General, Matthew Hooper.
“FFA Members work collectively to effectively manage their Pacific tuna fisheries, and this project will support members to access high value export markets while tackling illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing” said Mr Hooper on accepting the funding support.
The project aims to ensure FFA’s Pacific Island members maintain market access for their fishery products, by improving traceability along supply chains through the integration of fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance systems, the implementation of electronic reporting and the development of technological solutions to strengthen national capacity.
The project provides support for the development of national and regional CDS frameworks, national regulatory and policy frameworks and the development of CDS tools and associated training and capacity building.
The agreement follows almost two years of preparation and builds on work being undertaken to strengthen port state measures in the Pacific and complementing the existing comprehensive regional monitoring, control and surveillance framework implemented by FFA members.
About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
FFA was established to help their 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int
In the context of the programming directions for International Waters in the GEF, the project makes significant contributions to FFA activities in support of both the blue economy and improving the management of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).
Cooperation in the management of tuna fisheries by Pacific Island countries is a direct application of the principles of the blue economy. This concept aims to promote economic growth, social inclusion, and the preservation and improvement of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans. It is closely linked with Sustainable Development Goal 14, specifically 14.4 and 14.7.
The Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) tuna fishery is the largest tuna fishery in the world and the 2.7 million ton annual WCPO tuna catch accounts for sixty percent of global production with sixty percent of this catch coming from the waters of FFA Members. Tuna fisheries are a key resource for all Pacific Island countries – for many the only renewable economic resource. The WCPO is the only tuna fishery on the planet in which all four target stocks are currently rated as sustainably fished with no overfishing occurring.
The Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) is a fisheries management system that establishes rights in the shared fishery for coastal state and has been driven by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), a sub-regional grouping of FFA member countries. The consolidation of VDS which allows members to sell the rights to purse seine fishing days in their waters has seen SIDS revenues from the purse seine fishery increase from from 220 million in 2012 to 480 million in 2016, accounting for more than 40% of government revenue in five member SIDS and supporting 25,000 jobs in FFA Member countries in 2017. Of those employed in the processing sector 80% are women.
The Regional Fisheries Surveillance Programme is a unique collaboration between the members of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) to address illegal, unreported and unregistered (IUU) fishing in support of SDG 14.4. A range of regionally agreed systems and tools and best practice technology applications provide a high level of monitoring, control and surveillance and the agency is active in a range of activities supporting IUU mitigation such as the implementation of electronic monitoring and reporting systems on WCPO vessels.
In terms of activities supporting improved management of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), the OFMP2 project supports the annual FFA Management Options Consultation (MOC) meeting in which FFA Members Countries actively participate in WCPFC decision making and includes the improved management of ABNJ. MOC processes have provided the opportunity for supporting the adoption of high seas Special Management Areas and promoting strengthened catch and effort limits on the WCPFC high seas for tropical tuna fisheries, as well as an allocation process that will take account of the WCPFC Convention’s recognition of the special requirements of SIDS.
OFMP2 has also assisted PNA countries to develop the capacity to implement their prohibition on PNA-licenced purse-seiners from fishing in the two western high seas pockets.
Wider FFA promoted and supported measures such as FAD closures, 100% observer coverage in the purse seine fishery and coordinated approaches to high seas boarding and inspection activities also support more effective management of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.
The GEF OFMP II is a key contributor to the success of the blue economy in the WCPO.
This story provides an illustration of how GEF IW projects are already addressing themes in the new GEF IW strategy for the 7th GEF Replenishment. In this case the story highlights how projects can address Objective 1. Strengthening Blue Economy opportunities. In GEF-7, investments will be strengthening nations Blue Economy opportunities, through three areas of strategic action: 1) sustaining healthy coastal and marine ecosystems; 2) catalyzing sustainable fisheries management; and, 3) addressing pollution reduction in marine environments.
The Forum Fisheries Agency says the Pacific is facing big challenges as it embraces digital technology.
A systems analyst for the agency said that in the fisheries sector, work to digitise information was ongoing and labour intensive.
Ano Tisam said many organisations and governments in the region still used pen and paper.
He said to move ahead, information needed to be accessible in a digital format and properly stored and archived.
“We used technology to help Pacific governments to move away from what they are doing in terms of paper, and transitioning them over to digital technologies so that they can improve the way that they do things to make things more efficient and more effective.”
Ano Tisam was visiting New Zealand from Solomon Islands as a guest speaker at last week’s Pacific Tech Summit in Auckland.