Pacific Fisheries Ministers have identified maximising value from their fisheries as key to supporting the economic recovery from COVID-19.
This was raised by delegates at the annual 19th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial (FFCMin19) meeting and the Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting (RFMM3) in Kiribati last week.
Incoming FFCMin19 and RFMM3 Chair, Kiribati Minister for Fisheries, Minister Ribanataake Tiwau shared his vision of continuing to work successfully together with participants.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, while working together means sustainable success,” said Minister Tiwau.
“As we closed the meeting we heard loud and clear our Pacific Ministers expressing their strong desire to increase the level of benefits generated from the region’s tuna fishery through greater involvement in all levels of the value chain. We need to further investigate diversification opportunities such as value-adding and new markets to improve economic returns,” he continued.
“We also need to work hard to realise the significant socio-economic value and economic potential of aquaculture within the PICTs region that remains largely under-developed.”
“Our discussions were wide-ranging and we talked about short, medium and long term issues that we need to work together on. An area of grave concern that we discussed in detail is climate change and its impact on our coastal and offshore fisheries resources.
“There is a distinct possibility that there will be major reductions in revenue over time should the stocks move to the high seas in response to climate change effects. Now is the time to develop cooperative fisheries management approaches to build resilience into our collective fisheries. We also need to apply further collective pressure by supporting ‘one voice’ approach to our international engagement as Pacific SIDS.
“In terms of coastal fisheries a lot of work has been done but we look forward to more information to develop a catalogue on climate change actions and climate finance opportunities that the fisheries sector can engage on.
FFA Director General Dr Tupou-Roosen thanked the Ministers for their guidance and support for the FFA Secretariat.
“I was really inspired by what I heard from our Ministers and from our new Chair. His vision of partnerships between FFA members to enable greater participation in all parts of the tuna value chain to ensure we capture a greater share of the economic and social benefits for our Pacific people was very powerful,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.
“FFA loves that dream, we share that dream, and we are committed to making that dream happen. We thank our Members for their collaboration and continued trust in us to deliver the important outcomes from this meeting.”
FFCMin19 and RFMM3 were attended in person by Ministers representing Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu. Australia, FSM, Nauru, PNG and Vanuatu were represented at senior official level. RMI, Samoa and Tokelau participated online.