A UNIQUE South-South exchange meeting between regional, international fisheries and ocean management agencies is currently underway in Honiara at the Forum Fishery Agency (FFA) headquarters.
The meeting was held to help explain how the region has been meeting its challenges of managing tuna resources over the past decades and to share knowledge on what lessons might be transferable to other developing regions and also learn from the unique experiences that others bring to the table.
Speaking during the opening of the meeting Forum Fisheries Agency Director General James Movick said, more than a third of the world’s tuna supplies come from the waters of the Pacific Islands.
He said by working together Island Countries have promoted sustainability and given themselves a much bigger bite of revenues from the global tuna sandwich.
“Now, the Pacific island countries are sharing their knowledge and skills with other developing country regions.
“This meeting will help explain how the region has been meeting this challenge over the past decades and more strongly asserting our rights in what used to be a completely distant-water flag-state fishery.
“We have stood together and claimed our right to both manage and benefit from these valuable fishery resources.
“We want to share this knowledge and assess what lessons might be transferable to other developing regions – and also learn from the unique experiences that others bring to our table,” Mr Movick said.
The CEO of the Parties to the Nauru agreement, Ludwig Kumoru, described how the PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme had been a global game-changer in the sustainable management of tuna resources.
“The VDS put a cap on the number of days that fishing vessels can operate in our waters, and steadily ramped up the cost of access so that the PNA members receive a fair share of revenues.
“Before the VDS came into being there was no proper valuation placed on the fishery and we were at the mercy of foreign interests. That has all changed.”
Fisheries revenues now account for more than 50% of all government revenues in several island countries.
Participants in the exchange will also have the opportunity to see first-hand the operation of the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre at FFA headquarters.
“The fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishery is an area where the Pacific is leading the way,” said Mr Movick.
“Through the development of regional registration and effective vessel monitoring systems we can now exert a level of scrutiny of vessel operations that we only dreamt of previously. “
The meeting heard that the advent of enhanced aerial surveillance and new e-monitoring and satellite coverage will give the FFA members the ‘eyes in the sky’ that can keep a close watch on the fishing fleets in the region.
This will be supplemented by effective enforcement of catch reporting and transshipment of fish by licensed vessels.
Other areas of discussion will include assessing stocks and sustainability, securing market access and increasing local participation in the value-added onshore processing.
A centre piece of the discussion will be the Road Map for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries endorsed by Island leaders in 2015.
Participants from Senegal, Mauritania, India, Sri Lanka, St Kitts & Nevis, Maldives, Indonesia, Tanzania and Seychelles will join with officials from regional and international fisheries and oceans management agencies in the exchange.
The meeting is funded by the World Bank’s Ocean Partnership Program (OPP). DG Movick gratefully acknowledged the crucial role provided by SPC’s French translation services in addition to the Offshore Fisheries Programme.
By CHARLES KADAMANA