Republic of the Marshall Islands and SPC sign 2019-2022 Country Programme

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MEDIA RELEASE – republished from the Pacific Community, 11 April 2019

The Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Pacific Community have signed an agreement formalizing the Islands nations Country Programme for 2019-2022. The Programme provides a framework for work over the next 4 years and ensures that priorities identified by RMI as essential to achieving its development objectives and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The agreement was signed by the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, HE Hilda Heine, and SPC’s Director-General, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga.   

For the 2019-2022 Program, 7 priority areas have been identified; Statistics, BioSecurity, Food Security, Agriculture, Non-Communicable diseases, Gender, and Civil Registration/Vital Statistics.  In addition, the Island Nation will continue to emphasise the ongoing projects in such areas as fisheries, education, disaster risk reduction, and climate change.

President Heine emphasised the importance of the agreement to the Marshall Islands, and the unique advantages that come from its membership in the Pacific Community, saying “This Country Programme lays out a clear path over the next 4 years on areas we want to do a deeper dive in, while continuing on-going projects with SPC.  With the expert technical and scientific support from the Pacific Community, I am confident that we can reach our targets”.     

The Country Program for RMI was one of the first developed for a Pacific Community member with the original Joint Country Strategy introduced in 2008. Since that time, RMI and SPC have worked closely on a variety of key development projects, which have brought positive change to the Marshallese.

Director-General Tukuitonga praised the ambitious targets of the Country Programme and highlighted the Programme as an example of how the Pacific is taking a leading role in taking action on sustainable development priorities. “This Country Programme is not just a statement of principles, it provides specific, measurable and achievable actions that will have a dramatic impact on the future of RMI. SPC is proud to be a partner in this effort and we look forward to working closely with President Heine and her team.”

The Republic of the Marshall Islands has been a member of the Pacific Community since 1983. In 2017, SPC and RMI worked together on 10 country specific and 31 regional development activities.

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PNA credits fishery management for healthy tuna stocks

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Republished from Undercurrent News, 2 April 2019

The Western and Central Pacific tuna stocks are all in healthy condition, according to scientists with the Pacific Community (SPC) at the recently concluded Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) officials’ annual meeting in Palau.

“This is in part due to strong long-term management of the tuna fishery in PNA waters through the purse seine vessel day scheme (VDS),” said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. He pointed to fish aggregating device (FAD) closures, limits on fishing days, and other PNA conservation measures that have contributed to the overall sustainability of the tuna fishery.

“In comparison to tuna stocks in other oceans, the Pacific tuna stocks are doing well,” he said. Bigeye, yellowfin, albacore, and skipjack are all said to be in healthy condition in this region, according to the SPC stock assessment for 2017.

Over the past several years, PNA has maintained the same level of fishing days without increase and this has shown in relatively stable catch tonnage in both the purse seine and longline industries.

In addition to a “Status of Stocks” report from SPC, the annual officials meeting in Palau dealt with numerous management issues, ranging from an economic overview of the fishery and VDS administration, to updates on harvest control rules for skipjack fisheries and the fisheries information management system.

PNA officials discussed options for increased participation in the fishery and diversifying revenue streams through various initiatives, all of which are made possible by VDS management of the fishery, it said.

The Parties continued to discuss options for increasing the value of the VDS, including options for investing revenue. A presentation was provided by an investment fund manager active in the region during the meeting, which “continued the process of exposing PNA members to options for consideration”.