Annual Forum Fisheries Ministerial meeting kicks off in Micronesia

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Longliners in the Solomon Islands. Photo: Francisco Blaha.

POHNPEI, 16 June 2019 – The 16th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting begins tomorrow in Pohnpei, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia, and will tackle a broad range of issues aimed at protecting and securing the long term interests of Pacific Island countries over the region’s valuable tuna resources.

“The Western and Central Pacific is home to the biggest tuna fishery in the world and 60 percent of the catch is taken from the waters of FFA member countries – amounting to around 30 percent of global tuna catches.  So this is a critical meeting for the region.  Ministers recognise that we must ensure our major offshore resource – tuna – is not only managed sustainably, but that we increase the social and economic benefits that it provides for our Pacific people,” said Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen, Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.

The meeting which brings together Fisheries Ministers and high level delegates from across the region is being hosted by the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) and chaired by the Honourable Marion Henry, Secretary of the Department of Resources and Development.

Key priorities that will be tabled are:

  • The new FFA Strategic Plan 2020-2025 which will provide direction for the work of the FFA and its Members over the coming five years
  • The impact of climate change on tuna fisheries and working in collaboration with regional and international partners to help FFA Members mitigate and adapt to these impacts
  • Finalising a new Regional Longline Strategy to underpin strengthened management of longline fisheries, particularly on the high seas, and improved profitability for Pacific Island longline operations
  • Addressing human rights abuses and labour conditions for crew on fishing vessels to ensure there is no place for modern slavery in Pacific tuna fisheries
  • Technology for Tuna Transparency (T3) Challenge which looks at using electronic monitoring to tackle Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and improve transparency of tuna catches
  • The areas of ongoing work by the Secretariat and Members to combat IUU fishing with a particular focus on emerging technologies, electronic reporting and electronic monitoring, Persons of Interest and the Regional Aerial Surveillance Programme.
  • Agreed priorities to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in December.

In addition, for the first time there will be an additional one-day meeting of Fisheries Ministers to consider wider fisheries issues including coastal fisheries management and the impacts of marine pollution.  “This is an exciting development and will ensure greater cooperation by all regional agencies working on fisheries and ensure Ministers are able to provide effective oversight of all fisheries issues in the region” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

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For more information and photos contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, +691 920 5332  donna.hoerder@ffa.int

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 decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management. www.ffa.int

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NZ Deputy Prime Minister impressed with FFA

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New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Honourable Winston Peters and delegation. Photo: FFA.

HONIARA, 6 June, 2019 – The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) welcomed a high level delegation led by the New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Honourable Winston Peters, on Wednesday 5 June as part of their visit to Solomon Islands.  Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon Aupito William Sio; Member of Parliament (and former Minister of Trade) Todd McClay; NZ High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands Don Higgins; and senior government officials from the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs including CEO Chris Seed, were also in the delegation.

The delegation met with FFA Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen and Deputy Director General, Matt Hooper to discuss priority work areas for FFA including initiatives to improve the economic returns to FFA member countries from their tuna resources and the use of new technology in the ongoing battle against illegal fishing.  The new rules governing labour conditions for crew on fishing vessels were also highlighted alongside measures to improve the safety of Pacific Island observers working on foreign fishing vessels.

The New Zealand delegation also visited the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC). They were briefed on the critical role of the Centre in monitoring, control and surveillance by FFA Director of Fisheries Operations Allan Rahari and Lieutenant Commander Phil Rowe seconded to the RFSC from the Royal New Zealand Navy.

New Zealand contributes around 40% of total donor funds to FFA, and its annual support amounts to around USD $7.5 million.

In acknowledging the commitment from New Zealand, Dr. Tupou-Roosen said “This visit was an opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Government of New Zealand for their continued significant support as a FFA member and key donor.  It was also an opportunity to showcase FFA’s work and its importance for the region in terms of securing long-term social and economic benefits for our people.” 

She added “We look forward to our continued work together with the Government of New Zealand.  As our FFA Members have always maintained, it is cooperation that underpins our success.”

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For more information and photos contact Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, ph: +677 773 3097 donna.hoerder@ffa.int

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. www.ffa.int

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#Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #FFA40yrs #FFA40th

FFA’s smallest fisheries surveillance Operation still covers an area 22 times the size of New Zealand

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The Operation Tui Moana 2019 team. Photo: FFA.

HONIARA, 4 June, 2019 – Operation Tui Moana 2019 is the smallest regional fisheries surveillance operation conducted by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) yet it still covers a total area of six million square kilometres, equivalent to an area 22 times the size of New Zealand.

The twelve-day operation to detect, deter, report and/or apprehend potential illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing activity ended on 31 May 2019. It involved seven FFA member nations – Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu, and the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (QUADs) made up of Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States defence forces. It also included one of the FFA King Air aircraft from the Pacific Maritime Security Aerial Surveillance Programme operated by FFA.

During the Operation, 57 vessels were boarded and only five minor infringements were found including one vessel with a fish species that was not in accordance with its licence, another with an unsigned logbook after a day of fishing and one that was not carrying line cutters and de-hookers – a requirement for all longline vessels to help ensure they can promptly release sea turtles that are caught or entangled. These infringements have been reported to member countries for further investigation.

“FFA conducts four Operations every year and Tui Moana is the second this year. Lately we have found a steady decline in fisheries infringements and this is very likely due to our regular coordinated regional patrols,” said FFA’s Director of Fisheries Operations, Allan Rahari.

As a regional surveillance operation, Operation Tui Moana involved over one hundred personnel from across the region, with joint coordination led by the FFA’s Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) team.

During the operation eight police, fisheries and military personnel were based at the RFSC and trained in the use of the vessel monitoring systems and associated software.

“The Operation teaches them to experience how the Operations Room functions during a multi asset and nation Operation.  The intention is for these officers to be able to utilize what they have learnt in the RFSC in their own headquarters during their own surveillance operations,” said Mr. Rahari.

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For more information and photos contact Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, ph: +677 773 3097 donna.hoerder@ffa.int

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. www.ffa.int

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter

#Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #FFA40yrs #FFA40th

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.

Gender, human rights and sustainable resource management important aspects of significant Pacific-EU Marine Partnership Programme

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Republished from Pacific Community, 26 March 2019

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 €45Million Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme jointly funded by the European Union (EU) (€35Million) and Sweden (€10 Million), is a multi-partner project which promotes stronger regional economic integration and the sustainable management of natural resources and the environment in the Pacific region.

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.”

The SPC is working in partnership with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) to implement the PEUMP over the next five years. Each agency with be working with a number of implementing partners such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) network, Pacific Island Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Division Fisheries, Aquaculture & Marine Ecosystems

CountriesVanuatuSolomon IslandsSamoaTongaTuvaluMarshall IslandsPapua New GuineaPalauNiueNauruKiribatiFederated States of MicronesiaFijiCook Islands

Micronesian leaders unite to combat IUU fishing by 2023

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Micronesian nations are uniting to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) 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 a IUU Free Pacific by 2023. This challenge was set up by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (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.

“The Marshall Islands seeks your endorsement of this vision and goal, to have Micronesian Leaders support an IUU FREE Pacific by 2023 as an outcome of this important meeting.”

In October at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s Technical and Compliance Committee meeting in Majuro, Marshall Islands President Heine called on Pacific nations to agree to get rid of IUU fishing by 2023.

She urged the leaders of the Micronesian countries to make the same commitments to join the fight against IUU.

Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said the Micronesian region might be small but it comprises large ocean states which makes it all the more important to band together to deal with environmental degradation, including illegal fishing.

“My friends, I like to refer to our nations as the Large Ocean States. With this title comes great responsibility. Not only must we exploit our marine resources for the benefit of our people, we must protect them for our children and for the world at large,” Remengesau said when he welcomed the leaders in the February Summit.

“We must, therefore, continue to lead the world in creative responses to the environmental degradation that faces our Pacific Ocean through pollution, climate change, over-fishing, illegal fishing and the like. Together we must move forward with initiatives that prevent IUU fishing, that expand our protected areas and places limitations on pollution at every level.”

The Forum Fisheries Agency, in 2016, estimated fish either harvested or transshipped illegally in the Pacific region to be in the order of $600 million with the actual economic loss to FFA Members being around $150 million annually.

Heine, the RMI President, said IUU brings a broader scale of challenges that includes transnational crime, human rights and labour standards, pollution, and marine debris.

In the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Hawaii last year, the resolution on fishing vessel crew labour standards was adopted.

Led by Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members, with the support of members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), the resolution is in line with the goal of FFA members to enhance economic benefits to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from employment on board fishing vessels licensed to fish in the exclusive economic zones of FFA members.

Heine said the RMI is working closely with the FFA Secretariat in convening an IUU Colloquium in Majuro before the end of the year.

“The target audience will include National Compliance Officers, to our Fishing partners, both flag states and distant water fishing operators,” said Heine.

She added that with development partners, RMI continues to tap into emerging technology to meet the challenges such as the Persons of Interest project to ensure that “we are not so vessel focused in the way we combat IUU fishing; that we are not just collecting information on vessels’ compliance history but more importantly, we’re also collecting information on persons involved in illegal fishing and sharing this information.”