PIFS Statement at Annual Ministerial Forum Fisheries Committee

Port Vila, Vanuatu

5 – 6 July 2016

Chair, Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Republic of Vanuatu, Honourable Seremiah Matai Nawalu, Honourable Ministers, Director General of FFA, Mr James Movick, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

  • On behalf of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, and in her capacity as Pacific Ocean Commissioner, I wish to thank the government of Vanuatu for the warm welcome and hospitality. I would also like to thank the Director General of FFA for extending the invitation to the Forum Secretariat to attend the Annual Ministerial FFC Thirteenth Meeting in Port Vila.
  • The gathering of Fisheries Ministers today highlights the importance of fisheries resources and the ocean to Pacific Island Countries, in particular the contribution that they make to development and the improved wellbeing of many Pacific Islanders.
  • Furthermore, this signifies the importance of collaborative efforts for the effective management of our fisheries resources as countries aspire for better outcomes from utilisation of their resources.

Framework for Pacific Regionalism and Leaders Decision on Fisheries

  • As a region there are common challenges that our countries share. The need for greater cooperation in addressing these challenges and tapping into areas of opportunities has led to regional and sub-regional arrangements that facilitate positive developments in these areas.
  • The Framework for Pacific Regionalism has been established to guide the public policy process for identification of initiatives that deserve consideration by Leaders.
  • In 2015 through this policy process a range of regional policy submissions were received by the Secretariat. Through this process the Specialist Subcommittee on Regionalism identified fisheries as one of the five priorities that warranted Leaders’ consideration and oversight.
  • In considering fisheries issues, Leaders agreed that a joint taskforce of FFA, PNA, and the Forum Secretariat would lead the development of a programme to increase sustainable economic returns of fisheries within five years as well as examine a quota management system and report back to them in 2016.
  • Leaders also tasked Fisheries, Economic and Foreign Ministers to undertake a joint comprehensive evaluation of the regional monitoring, control, and surveillance, and compliance regime and report back to them this year.

Fisheries Taskforce

  • The request by Leaders for the establishment of a Joint Taskforce was progressed by FFA, PNAO and the Forum Secretariat, and SPC was also invited to be part of the Taskforce given its role in regional fisheries particularly in tuna fisheries science and data, and coastal fisheries management. The Taskforcemet four times this year both at the officials and the Chief Executive Officers’ level and their discussions have guided the development of the programme for increasing sustainable economic returns of fisheries.
  • It is noted that one of the items for consideration by Ministers is the report from the Fisheries Taskforce on increasing sustainable economic returns of fisheries which highlights the four components of the programme for consideration by Leaders and they are:
  1. Reform of the Management of the Longline Fishery;
  2. Increasing the value of employment and ensuring effective labour standards are in place;
  3. Facilitating Investment and Trade; and
  4. Value Chain Participation.
  • In addition, the Taskforce was also requested to examine a quota management system. Members of the Taskforce were able to join Pacific Fisheries Ministers and participate in the New Zealand Study Tour in April this year. The outcomes of the Study Tour are highlighted in the report from the Taskforce.

Comprehensive Review of MCS Framework and Peer Assessment

  • The Forum Secretariat would like to commend FFA for organising the Troika of Ministers Meeting in June where for the first time Ministers of Fisheries, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Law Enforcement /Defence Portfolios met and discussed the comprehensive review of the MCS framework and identified key messages for Leaders’ consideration. The review process was also supported by an independent peer assessment of the comprehensive review facilitated by the Forum Secretariat.
  • The Forum Secretariat encourages strengthened collaboration amongst key players in progressing initiatives under the fisheries roadmap and the programme for increasing sustainable economic returns. Efforts to work together on fisheries initiatives have highlighted the importance of taking a broader and inclusive approach to addressing fisheries challenges and issues and tapping into opportunities in this sector. Further, it is envisaged that these efforts would enable our people to realise greater benefits from their fisheries resources.

Collaboration with the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner

  • Whilst I have the floor, on behalf of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner and her Office, I would like to thank FFA for their technical advice and collaboration in support of Pacific states at the United Nations during the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee to discuss elements of a legally binding agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. This coordination between technical agencies was commended by Pacific missions, most notably the Chair of the PSIDS group in New York, and is an excellent demonstration of CROP coordination that has resulted in positive outcomes for our countries.
  • It is noted that the next meeting of the Preparatory Committee is scheduled for 26 August to 9 September and is likely to require even more technical support to ensure any new instrument does not undermine the significant achievements Pacific states have experienced in the area of fisheries management, and can be used to enhance achievements where possible. To this end, we hope for continued support and collaboration between the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner and FFA on this issue.
  • Finally, the Commissioner will be presenting Leaders with the first Results Report against progress made in implementation of the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape. A draft of this will be provided to FFA and comments to the Office are welcome. The report incorporates relevant indicators from the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries and shows clear leadership on fisheries issues.
  • I wish you all the best in your deliberations.

Thank you

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