FFA: Aerial surveillance critical for monitoring of our EEZs — media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 25 August 2020 – Fisheries ministers at their 17th Forum Fisheries Committee meeting on 6–7 August recognized the importance of aerial surveillance, including through the Pacific Maritime Security Program–Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (PMSP/FFA), after noting the increased risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Australian Department of Defence and FFA agreed to temporarily suspend the PMSP/FFA aerial surveillance program in March 2020 due to the swift move by Pacific Island countries to restrict travel, coupled with the uncertainty and risks involved. The suspension was lifted on 1 July following gradual easing of travel restrictions and interest received from members to conduct maritime surveillance over their exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

The FFA Director-General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said the resumption of the PMSP/FFA aerial surveillance program is highly welcomed and especially important during this time as recognized by our Fisheries Ministers.

“With the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on other forms of monitoring such as observer coverage, constant aerial surveillance is critical for Pacific Island countries to monitor their vast EEZs,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.

“We note the strict COVID-related clearance protocols in place in the region and are working with the appropriate authorities to satisfy these protocols so as to continue to provide our members with the surveillance they require.

“One of the benefits of this program is that in addition to our members being able to direct the aircraft in terms of where, when and what they would like to target IUU fishing, it also addresses other maritime security-related threats,” she added.

Since the lifting of the suspension, the aerial surveillance aircraft has been providing surveillance for Solomon Islands.

The Commander of RSIPF Maritime Division, Chief Superintendent Charles Fox Sau, noted that during this time, with the limited tools to monitor the large EEZ, the risk of not only IUU fishing but also other threats entering the EEZ are higher.

“We are grateful to the governments of Australia and New Zealand and to the FFA for providing aerial surveillance assistance, which is complementing our patrol boats in monitoring our borders — especially for the illegal entry of small craft,” Chief Superintendent Sau said.

During the FFC ministerial meeting, ministers made specific reference to the support provided by the FFA Secretariat to members through the use of the vessel monitoring system to contact-trace the movements of fishing vessels. This has been invaluable for ensuring border security and mitigating the risk of COVID-19 entering countries by sea.

Negotiations with Pacific Island countries interested in recommencing their aerial surveillance are currently underway. FFA members are encouraged to contact the FFA to ensure their access to the PMSP/FFA Aerial Surveillance Program on air.tasking@ffa.int.

ENDS//

For more information contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media, ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@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. Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter | on LinkedIn | on YouTube | www.ffa.int

Fisheries ministers strengthen commitment to regional cooperation amid pandemic: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 8 August 2020 – Fisheries Ministers from member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) have expressed serious concern about the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their domestic economies. 

Their comments came during the 17th FFC Ministers meeting, which concluded yesterday.

In his opening remarks, the Honourable Kandhi Eleisiar, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Federated State of Micronesia (FSM) and FFCMIN17 Chair, emphasised [that] “tuna is our only natural resource and the breadwinner of our national economies. Therefore, understanding its impact and how we may adapt [and] minimise the impact [COVID] may have on us is important.”

Commending Pacific leaders for swift action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the region, Ministers have expressed strengthened commitments to regional solidarity and collaboration as central to confronting the impacts of the pandemic in the Pacific. They have also emphasised the importance of protecting the fisheries sector, given its important economic and food security benefits. 

FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, in her opening comments, spoke of the “adaptability and resilience” of members in the face of COVID-19, noting that “more than ever, our cooperation is needed to see us through this unprecedented challenge”.

Measures to address the impact of the pandemic

Ministers asked FFA to undertake a regional study on how members can harness their comparative advantage with respect to regional tuna resources and maximise the benefits flowing from strengthened cooperation in areas such as processing, value-adding, cross-border investment, increased regional trade, improved transportation links, and improved labour mobility. 

With disruptions to air freight impacting the export of fresh fish outside the region, Ministers welcomed the work being undertaken by FFA to explore market opportunities within the region.

The Ministers also commended the measures taken by the FFA and officials to mitigate health risks posed by the pandemic, including development of health-related safety protocols for crew members, observers and others interacting with fishing vessels. These protocols will minimise the risk of contracting or spreading the disease and enable fishing operations to continue safely. 

Work by the FFA Secretariat to improve observer safety and maintain observer livelihoods by using their analytical fisheries knowledge and skills on shore was welcomed by the Ministers.

IUU fishing

The pandemic has resulted in an increased risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, due to the limitations on the use of human observers and port inspections. 

Ministers highlighted the increased importance of FFA’s integrated monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) framework during these times, including the satellite vessel-monitoring system, vessel-of-interest information and the overall regional surveillance picture, as well as the aerial surveillance programme managed by FFA on behalf of members.

Climate change

While the impact of the pandemic was front of mind for Ministers, they emphasised the importance of not losing sight of biggest threat to the region — that of climate change. 

Ministers encouraged FFA to continue to prioritise work looking at the impacts of climate change on tuna fisheries and ensuring the region can adapt to the challenges this will bring.

In this regard, Ministers called for closer collaboration among regional organisations to respond to the specific needs of the region and to ensure that fisheries issues are firmly placed onto the wider climate-change agenda, including in the context of the Pacific’s engagement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At the conclusion of the meeting, FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen expressed appreciation “for the continued support and trust that members place in the Secretariat as we continue to facilitate stronger regional cooperation, adaptability, caution and resilience in fisheries”.

The 17th Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) Ministerial meeting (FFCMIN17), was attended by Ministers representing Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, and Solomon Islands. Cook Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu were represented at senior official level. 

ENDS//

For more information contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media,
ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@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.

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter | on LinkedIn | on YouTube | www.ffa.int

FFC adopts the FFA regional PSM framework: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 5 August 2020 – The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) has successfully sanctioned the regional Port State Measure (PSM) framework at its 114th meeting, held in June. 

According to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, “This marks a significant milestone in the Agency’s efforts to strengthen and enhance port-based activities in relation to addressing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the territories of its 17 member states.” 

These efforts are also reflective of the FFA’s Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Strategy (RMCSS) 2018–2023, which highlights PSM as “one useful MCS tool in the larger MCS toolbox available to members in the fight against IUU fishing”. 

Mr Edward Honiwala, Director of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), highlighted that, “the adoption of the regional PSM framework provides the opportunity to strengthen the country’s National Port State controls, establish mechanisms that would facilitate our obligations under the WCPFC CMM on Port State Measures, and ensures that our Port State Controls are compatible with other international arrangements.”

The FFA Regional PSM Framework provides key elements, processes and responses necessary to facilitate targeted and effective PSM across the region. It provides guidance to FFA Members in developing minimum PSM standards to be applied at the national level, promoting inter-agency cooperation and coordination, and improving data and information exchange. The scope of the framework applies to all fishing vessels; therefore, members may apply these provisions to their national vessels at their own discretion.

The nature of fishing in the WCPO is multi-jurisdictional and multi-national and therefore requires internal and external networks to effectively manage any issues, such as illegal fishing and transnational crime. If implemented effectively, PSM can prevent IUU-caught fish from entering into national and international markets, and provides the foundation for further work in the area of catch certification and the Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS).

The FFA Secretariat’s PSM work is supported through a five-year investment from the New Zealand Government, which commenced in 2017 under the Pacific Islands Port State Measures (PIPSM) project.

Over the course of 2019, the regional PSM framework was developed by the FFA members. It underwent amendments and was tabled at four technical and governance meetings until it was officially adopted at the FFC114 in June 2020.

The Secretariat has commenced work on a prototype for an e-PSM tool which digitises and automates PSM processes in line with the regional PSM framework. In addition, discussions have kick-started with members that have identified national PSM priorities for support.

ENDS//

For more information contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media, ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@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.

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter |on LinkedIn | on YouTubewww.ffa.int

COVID-19 impacts lead agenda for FFA Fisheries Ministerial meeting: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 5 August 2020 – THE first ever Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting to be held online opens tomorrow, with the impacts of COVID-19 on the regional tuna fishery at the top of the agenda. 

The 17th FFC Ministers meeting (6–7 August) is occurring virtually, due to travel restrictions arising from the pandemic.

Fisheries Ministers will consider ways in which FFA can provide further assistance around the Observer Programme, including how observer livelihoods can be sustained as well as Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) support, and national economic impact assessments. 

Ministers will also be provided with the Tuna Fisheries Report Card 2020 before it is submitted to Forum Leaders later this year. The Card reports on progress against a range of indicators in the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Fisheries.

FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said: “The pandemic has had a significant impact on the work of FFA Member countries, particularly around MCS. For example, it is now extremely difficult to place observers on board fishing vessels, due to travel restrictions and health and safety concerns, and requirements for fishing vessels to carry observers have been suspended. 

“The FFA Secretariat has been providing assistance to Members to help them address the impacts of COVID-19, including studies to review food security and how best to support Observers over the longer term.”

The meeting will take place via a virtual meeting platform. Dr Tupou-Roosen said greater use of such technologies in the wake of the pandemic had reinforced the value of investing in appropriate wireless broadband capabilities throughout the Pacific region. 

“Our Member countries see an opportunity to invest in technology, with a range of flow-on benefits for time and cost savings in the way FFA works,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.

“While the pandemic has been extremely challenging, it has also given Members and the Secretariat a chance to reflect on how we consolidate approaches to fisheries issues. The region can emerge as even more resilient.”

ENDS//

For more information contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media,
ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@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.

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter | on LinkedIn | on YouTube | www.ffa.int

FFA recognises 40 years of service of employees

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

Honiara, 19 July 2020 – STAFF of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) last week celebrated the achievements and service of two long-serving employees, who have spent 40 years working for the regional fisheries organisation based in Honiara.

Solomon Island nationals Davinia Boso, 67 and Susan Olisukulu, 61 both joined the FFA in July 1980 when it was being established.

Mrs Boso is from Patutiva in the famous Marovo Lagoon, Western province and Mrs Olisukulu is from Boe village, Choiseul province.

They started off together as typists when the FFA Headquarters was stationed in Lengakiki, West Honiara. They have worked under the leadership of nine Director-Generals and 14 Deputy Director Generals.

Now forty years with the regional fisheries organisation, Mrs Boso is the Office Support Services Supervisor while Mrs Olisukulu is a Human Resources Support Officer.

They said they were so happy and thankful to see the FFA transforming over the years into what it is today.

“So many things have unfolded over the years. But it is a joy to see how FFA has evolved and it has been a pleasure to work with so many staff and Directors,” Mrs Boso said.

“From the humble beginning using manual typewriters and duplicating machines, my work has been enhanced using computer/laptops and with the introduction of new information technologies. FFA has greatly developed and I am happy to see FFA grow for the last 40 years. God Bless FFA and the Region,” Mrs Olisukulu said.

FFA Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen thanked Mrs Boso and Mrs Olisukulu on behalf of the staff for their 40 years of hard work and commitment to FFA.

An emotional FFA Director-General, Dr manu Tupou-Roosen acknowledging the ladies for their 40 years of service to the regional fisheries organisation based in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Dr Tupou-Roosen stated, “it is rare to find someone that has dedicated their life service to an organisation for 40 years.  We are deeply appreciative and so proud of our two special staff members Davinia and Susan. This is a significant achievement for them and an important milestone in FFA’s history.”

“To appropriately recognise their contribution to FFA, our Library Conference Room, usually referred to as the LCR, has been renamed in their honour as the Davinia Boso Susan Olisukulu Conference Room,” she added.

It was an emotional and happy occasion for both employees and the staff as they marked their 40 years of service to FFA, during a celebration on Friday, 17 July 2020.

For more information and photos contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media, ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@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. 

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter |on LinkedIn | on YouTube | www.ffa.int

FFA coordinates maritime surveillance of Solomon Islands fisheries with NZDF assistance: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 14 July 2020 – A Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K2 Orion aircraft is currently conducting three days of aerial surveillance over Solomon Islands’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a task coordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

The targeted maritime surveillance patrol was requested by Solomon Islands Government in order to monitor the activities of tuna fleets in its EEZ, as part of FFA’s ongoing surveillance in the region to detect and deter illegal fishing activities. The tasking included surveillance of the western border as well as the east and south fishing areas. This is the first such operation over Solomon Islands’ waters since March. 

FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said, “Maritime patrols are a key way of enhancing our knowledge of what’s occurring at sea. It also acts as an invaluable deterrent for illegal activities. We’re so pleased that Solomon Islands was host to the first extended-duration aerial surveillance patrol since restrictions on travel have been imposed under COVID.”

“We congratulate the Government of Solomon Islands and the Government of New Zealand for this cooperation and continued commitment to combatting illegal fishing in our region. We also acknowledge and sincerely thank the Government of New Zealand for this significant contribution,” she added.

The RNZAF P-3K2 Orion aircraft in flight over sea during a recent regional aerial surveillance. Photo: NZDF.
The RNZAF P-3K2 Orion aircraft during a recent regional aerial surveillance. Photo: NZDF.

New Zealand contributes to regional efforts to tackle illegal fishing to ensure fisheries are managed effectively for future generations. 

“Fisheries are a vital resource and value asset of Pacific nations, one that must be preserved and protected” the New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Georgina Roberts, said. 

“Surveillance operations like this are ways in which New Zealand can continue to support Pacific nations to preserve this taonga.”

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) cooperates with regional agencies and Pacific neighbours on patrols to detect and deter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity. 

ENDS//

For more information and photos contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media,
ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@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. 

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter | on LinkedIn | on YouTube | www.ffa.int

Initial economic impact of COVID-19 reported for Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

WASHINGTON, 23 June 2020 – US Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs Douglas W. Domenech today announced the publication of three technical notes from the Graduate School USA’s Economic Monitoring and Analysis Program (EconMAP) providing an initial assessment of the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. 

“While each of the three Freely Associated States continues to remain free of COVID-19 cases, the slow down and near termination of transportation across the region has had strong repercussions on their economies,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. 

“It is hoped that the data and analyses in these technical notes can help illuminate impacts as FAS leaders draft fiscal measures and implement mitigation strategies to maintain financial and economic stability now and as they emerge from the impacts of COVID-19.”

Funded through the US Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), the projections made in the EconMAP technical notes assume that travel will remain limited for all three of the FAS through fiscal year 2021 or until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. 

The technical notes also utilize economic modeling techniques that project the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic without consideration of any external donor assistance and in the absence of any confirmed domestic cases. Should any of the three FAS report COVID-19 cases and develop community transmission, the projected negative impacts of the pandemic could be compounded. 

As laid out in the reports in more detail, the following highlights reflect initial expected COVID-19 impact in each FAS in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

The Republic of Palau

The Republic of Palau – Heavily dependent on tourism with 20 per cent of all its workers employed in the tourism industry, Palau attracted 90,000 foreign visitors in fiscal year 2019, with the tourism industry contributing 20 per cent to gross domestic product. Prior to the pandemic, Palau’s fiscal year 2020 first quarter tourism numbers were on track to grow more than 30 per cent and estimated to attract 116,000 visitors for the year. Instead, it is now projected that Palau will experience a 51 per cent reduction of tourists, with a total expected of about 44,075 visitors, and a further 89 per cent reduction in fiscal year 2021.

Overall, Palau is expected to experience a 22.3 per cent decline in GDP and a loss of 3,128 jobs, primarily in the private sector.

The fiscal deficit for Palau, resulting from the loss of tax revenues such as the payroll tax, gross revenues tax, hotel room tax, and import taxes, is projected to be about US$40 million; however, this impact is partially mitigated by Compact grants and trust fund revenues. Construction and infrastructure projects already planned for Palau are anticipated to serve as an important economic stimulus when the cyclical negative impact of COVID-19 on Palau’s economy is being realized.

The Federated States of Micronesia

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) – While the FSM does not enjoy the same level of visitor arrivals as Palau, the majority of the COVID-19 impact will also be felt in the private sector, namely in the transportation and tourism sectors. The hotel and restaurant industries are projected to fall by 46 per cent in fiscal year 2020 and then an additional 75 per cent in fiscal year 2021, reflecting the absence of tourists and minimal interstate visitors. Similarly, the transportation sector, which includes shipping, port services, aviation, and airport ground handling, is projected to decline by 27 per cent in fiscal year 2020 and an additional 14 per cent in fiscal year 2021. Notably, the total projected loss to the FSM economy will be the most severe decline in the FSM economy since the start of the amended Compact period in 2004. 

Ultimately, the FSM is expected to experience a 6.9 per cent decline in GDP and a loss of 1,841 jobs, reflecting an 11 per cent reduction of employment levels in the FSM compared to fiscal year 2019. 

Optimistically, given the FSM’s strong fiscal position at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the application of targeted internal and external assistance, including Federal assistance, to bolster health sector investments, improve resiliency in the health system, provide budgetary resources to offset revenue losses during the pandemic, and to provide direct support to affected individuals and businesses, will be sufficient to offset much of the projected threat to the FSM economy and to its fiscal position going forward.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) – The overall RMI economy relies very little on tourism and visitor arrivals with the hotel and restaurant sector representing only 2.3 per cent of GDP. It is, however, more heavily dependent on the public sector, which includes important fisheries activity and sovereign rent receipts. The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority is already seeing declines ranging from 30 to 50 per cent across aquarium fish exports, the tuna loining plant operations, purse seining operations, and shore-based support to the longline fishing industry. With airline travel to the RMI near complete shutdown, wholesale fuel operations are projected to drop by 45 per cent, reflecting the loss of nearly all of its aviation fuel sales. 

Overall, the RMI is projected experience a 6.9 per cent decline in GDP and a loss of 716 jobs.

The projected impact on tax revenues, employment, and job loss coupled with potential significant reductions in fisheries revenues may result in a sizeable fiscal shock in the range of US$14 to US$20 million, larger than previous fiscal downturns experienced by the RMI. The RMI will benefit significantly from donor assistance that can help mitigate the projected negative impacts on the economy as a whole and to avoid a dangerous deterioration of its fiscal position. 

Breadth and depth of impact in three countries

In all three countries, the breadth and depth of economic impact will be substantial in the tourism, transport, and fisheries sectors, again under the current modeling with each country still reporting zero COVID-19 cases. Although Palau is hardest hit due to its tourism-centered economic structure, the FSM and RMI are also deeply affected. The EconMAP team expects to update the technical notes to eventually quantify the full range and impact that internal mitigating efforts and external donor assistance will have in each FAS, eventually providing a full report to better understand the combined impact of assistance and the net impact of the COVID-19 response.

The full and complete COVID-19 technical notes for the FSM, RMI, and Palau can be accessed at http://www.pitiviti.org. EconMAP technical notes are intended to provide a concise and timely analysis of an immediate situation for decision-makers, utilizing currently available data sets and macroeconomic tools developed in close collaboration with stakeholders.

All three FAS governments are working closely with Federal partners in the United States government, including the Department of the Interior, to invest in strengthening their health systems and to mitigate the impact on affected individuals and businesses. For a partial list of US Federal assistance to the FAS related to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit https://www.doi.gov/oia/covid19.

Funded through the Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program, EconMAP is managed by the Graduate School USA’s Pacific & Virgin Islands Training Initiatives. EconMAP produces annual economic statistics and economic reviews for the RMI, FSM, and Palau, as well as occasional technical notes on emerging issues.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, @ASIIADomenech, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the US territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

For more information, contact Tanya Harris Joshua, Deputy Policy Director, Office of Insular Affairs – Policy Division, US Department of the Interior, ph. 202 208 6008 | mob. 202 355 3023.

Fisheries observer safety a key focus, as FFA wraps up annual meeting: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 22 June 2020 – Initiatives to improve job prospects and safety at sea for fishing observers has been a key focus of the 114th Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC114) meeting.

The meeting, which was held over five days last week via video conference, comprised representatives of the 17 members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). 

Responding to COVID-19 and to climate change were also issues high on the agenda.

Observer safety 

One of the main meeting outcomes was a decision to study how observer safety can be improved in the wake of COVID-19, and how the role can be made more viable into the future. 

Said FFA Director General, Manu Tupou-Roosen: “Observers can spend several months at sea in often dangerous conditions. Improving their working environment has been a priority of FFA for some time but we have increased our focus even further as a result of COVID-19. We want observers to work safely when they return to vessels.” 

Dr Tupou-Roosen said job stability for observers would also be reviewed during the study.

“Many observers haven’t been able to work during the pandemic, which has increased their financial pressures,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen. 

“This new study will consider how the observer role can be made more sustainable into the future, for example better utilising the analytical skills that observers develop while monitoring activities on commercial fishing vessels.”

The FFC114 meeting also agreed that work include the development of safety protocols at sea and in port, with the assistance of SPC, WHO and IO. 

Work will also continue on the development of minimum standards for observer insurance as well as support to Members to investigate observer safety issues (such as death, disappearance, injury). This includes provision of information, technical and legal advice.

COVID-19

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic was also a priority item at FFC114.  The meeting noted that while the pandemic had created unprecedented pressures for Pacific tuna fisheries, it also presented opportunities.

“Like many other sectors, we’ve realised the potential for technology to progress work more efficiently and will explore new ways of working over coming months,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

[Click here for an interview with Dr Tupou-Roosen on the impact of COVID-19 on the fisheries. Copies of this interview are available for use by media outlets.]

Climate change

FFC114 also discussed climate change impacts on tuna fisheries, with a primary focus on adaptive fisheries management regimes.

The Committee agreed on the need for adaptive fisheries management regimes to be informed by the best available science on the impacts of climate change on tuna stocks and noted ongoing work on securing maritime boundaries, contributing to food security, and how to best use information collected on ozone-depleting substances used by fishing vessels.

Monitoring and reporting

The meeting adopted the Regional Longline Fishery Electronic Monitoring Policy, as a guide for Members to develop their national EM programmes.

The meeting also reaffirmed a commitment to progressively adopt electronic reporting for fishing vessels operating within Members’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and the high seas. The goal is 100% adoption by 2022, noting the need to cater for special circumstances of small domestic vessels operating solely within EEZs.

ENDS//

For more information and photos contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media,
ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@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.  

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter |on LinkedIn | on YouTube | www.ffa.int

COVID-19, climate change lead agenda as Forum Fisheries officials meet: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 17 June 2020 – Measures to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are high on the agenda of the 114th Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) meeting, which commenced yesterday.

The meeting comprises representatives from each of the 17 members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). This year’s meeting is being held from 16–19 June 2020.

Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, the Director-General [pictured above], said: “The pandemic has resulted in a significant economic impact in member countries in key sectors, such as tourism. This makes it even more important to ensure that other key economic activities, such as fisheries, continue to function effectively.

“Revenues and associated benefits need to be maximised in a sustainable manner. Food security also needs to be prioritised.”

The meeting will discuss FFA’s response and recovery measures, and how the FFA approaches key priorities for the coming year. 

“The pandemic is undoubtedly a once-in-a-generation challenge and no less so for the Pacific’s tuna fisheries. However, it also presents a range of opportunities to innovate how FFA operates and we are focused on actioning those opportunities” added Dr Tupou-Roosen.

The meeting will also focus on measures related to an action plan for the Longline Strategy, Electronic Monitoring policy, Observer safety and livelihoods, and how to support members in increasing social benefits from the tuna fisheries.

ENDS//

For interviews, information and photos, contact Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media,
ph: +677 7304715, ronald.toitoona@ffa.int


About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA assists its 17 member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 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. 

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter | on LinkedIn | on YouTube | www.ffa.int

Exchange of maritime boundaries data to boost fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance in region: media release

Categories Media releases, NewsPosted on

SUVA, 16 June 2020 – A milestone has been reached by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Pacific Community (SPC) following the successful completion of an agreement between the two organisations for the exchange of maritime boundaries data.

This milestone also represents the achievement of a key outcome under the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) programme to reduce Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing through enhanced Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) of oceanic and coastal fisheries. 

It comes at an opportune time with the global focus of World Oceans Day on 8 June being “Innovation for a sustainable ocean. Together we can protect our home.”

FFA members had recognised the need to routinely update Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) maps when maritime boundaries were agreed, made publicly available and incorporated into national laws. 

A patrol boat of Federated States of Micronesia during a boarding and inspection observation in 2004. Photo: FFA Media.
A patrol boat of Federated States of Micronesia during a boarding and inspection observation in 2004. Photo: FFA Media.


Acknowledging that it was crucial that stakeholders were all working from the same data, members authorised SPC to release its dataset to FFA, using the international standard format, to enable updating of the FFA VMS. Through an ongoing Service Level Agreement (SLA) between SPC and FFA, this has now been achieved and authoritative Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) data has been included and operationalised into the FFA VMS, which is used to track fishing fleets across the Pacific region.

When FFA developed the region’s state-of-the-art VMS, the only EEZ boundaries available were provisional lines developed from different sources under the Maritime Boundaries Project which was later transferred to SPC. As Pacific Island states and territories made progress in delimiting, negotiating, and declaring their maritime boundaries, more updated datasets were made available via open source platforms and this was used to update the VMS.

While expressing his congratulations, the Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, HE Sujiro Seam said, “The European Union is proud to have partnered with SPC and FFA in the operationalisation of such an awaited data sharing agreement. 

“It reaffirms EU’s global commitment to promote the sustainable management of marine resources and the achievement of the SDG14 – Life below water. It recognises the importance of marine issues for the Small Island States of the Pacific, which are big Ocean States, in line with the ‘Strategy for a Blue Pacific Continent’ endorsed by the Pacific Island Forum Leaders at their meeting in Tuvalu in 2019. It adds value for the toolbox to fight IUU fishing and ensure a high level of maritime security in the region.”

FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said FFA is happy with the continuous collaborative work with SPC, especially with regards to the Service Level Agreement on maritime boundaries.

“We are very pleased with the continued strong collaboration between FFA and SPC to support our Members in the sustainable utilisation of our valuable offshore fisheries resources. Specifically, the work on the delimitation of maritime boundaries is fundamental as has been underlined by our Pacific Island Forum Leaders.”

Dr Tupou-Roosen also spoke highly of the PEUMP programme for supporting the milestone achievement, saying, “We are very appreciative of the collaborative approach that PEUMP is taking in implementation as a multi-partner programme which has resulted in these types of successful outcomes.”

SPC’s Director-General, Dr Stuart Minchin, said, “National fisheries officers can now respond to cases of illegal fishing within their maritime zones with confidence, knowing that the boundaries displayed are internationally recognised. Fisheries are a critical source of wealth for the peoples of the Pacific and strengthened monitoring and management of fisheries has exponential impacts on the sustainable development of our region.”

Pacific representatives participating in the region’s first virtual MCS Working Group Meeting in May congratulated the FFA and the SPC on reaching a critical milestone for fisheries management in the region. 

Following several years of collaborative work, the two regional organisations completed Phase 1 of the SLA in April 2020, and the updated EEZ information has been on display since May. 

ENDS //

Background

All of the boundary data shared through this agreement has been collected, analysed, and catalogued through the Pacific Regional Maritime Boundaries project. The project was originally established to assist Pacific countries to obtain greater certainty in the limits of their EEZs to support fisheries management and enforcement, and it has supported the successful declaration of 19 shared boundaries between countries since 2001.

The project is coordinated by SPC and is supported by a consortium of partners, including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner; FFA; the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); Geoscience Australia; Attorney-General’s Department, Australia; University of Sydney; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT); GRID-Arendal; Commonwealth Secretariat; as well as the European Union and Sweden through the PEUMP programme.

For more information, contact:
Debbie Singh, PEUMP Communications Officer, SPC, email debbies@spc.int
Ronald F. Toito’ona, FFA Media, ronald.toitoona@ffa.int

About the Pacific Community (SPC)

The Pacific Community (SPC) is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, proudly supporting development since 1947. Learn more at www.spc.int.

About the 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. Follow us on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, and www.ffa.int.

About the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme 

The Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme addresses some of the most serious challenges faced by the pacific countries. Among these are the increasing depletion of coastal fisheries resources; the 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; and the need to mainstream a rights-based approach and to promote greater recognition of gender issues to ensure inclusiveness and positive changes for the Pacific island people. This five-year PEUMP programme is funded by the European Union (EUR 35 million) and the government of Sweden (EUR 10 million). It is implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) in close collaboration with Non-Government Organisations and the national authorities.