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At the conclusion of the 106th Officials Forum Fisheries Committee Meeting, delegates from around the Pacific made substantial progress and agreed to a number of key issues that can now be tabled at the 15th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministers Meeting (FFCMIN15) in Rarotonga from July 3-5.
Forum Fisheries Director General, James Movick said “A number of very impressive agreements and updates were made during the two weeks of work and I must acknowledge and thank the member countries for sustaining pro-active fisheries management within the region. This will help underpin the estimated USD 1 billion in direct benefits that are now flowing to members from this sector”
“Data shows all tuna stocks are healthy and substantially managed, but we know some sectors of the fishery are more profitable than others. The region has the most healthy tuna stocks of any international fishery and for this reason our work is of utmost importance.”
Some of the progress that took place during the week included:
*Agreement by members on the development of a regional longline strategy with the aim of ensuring stronger economic benefits for members, and a special focus on albacore which is of relevance to Cook Islands. Of particular note is the majority of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing which occurs in the longline fishery.
*Implementation of the Pacific Maritime Surveillance Program (PMSP) funded by the Government of Australia. Two King Air aircraft will shortly replace the Cessna Skymaster now deployed for enhanced maritime surveillance in the region. Together with the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA) joint exercises, and the support of the ‘QUADS’ (Australia, NZ US and French military aircraft support) this is a huge step forward for the Pacific in terms of monitoring IUU.
*Agreement on key priorities in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) including on Tropical Tuna, Harvest Strategies work on a new Compliance Monitoring Scheme which will be developed by the end of the year.
“Another key outcome was the adoption of a new Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Framework which will put FFA members at the cutting edge of international MCS best practice. This includes a place for emerging and 'over-the-horizon' technologies including e-reporting, e-monitoring, and enhanced satellite surveillance, “said Movick.
A feature of the meeting was the active participation of other key fisheries partners including the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, the Pacific Community, USP, the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association and the Forum Secretariat. Donors and NGOs including WWF also observed proceedings.
The Director General thanked the Prime Minister and Government of the Cook Islands for its successful hosting of all events and meetings.
About Forum Fisheries Agency
Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA was established to help its 17 members - Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu - sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). www.ffa.int
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