On behalf of the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, I wish to welcome all the participants, resources persons and the sponsors to this Fish2.0 Business Development and Application Workshop.
I think that there is global consensus on the need for action towards the creation of sustainable fisheries. The Pacific region has played an important role in the development of global policies that seek to balance the ecological and commercial imperatives of this valuable resource.
Pacific Leaders, through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, have sought to address the sustainable development of the region’s fisheries. In 2015 they called for a sustainable increase in the economic returns from the sector within 5 years. In response, the Forum Secretariat has worked with the Forum Fisheries Agency, Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office, Pacific Community, and other key stakeholders to develop a programme of action aimed at stimulating activity through the promotion of targeted investment and trade opportunities. The programme also seeks to strengthen and scale up new and existing value chains to ensure that the region secures a more representative return from its vast fisheries resources.
In 2016, the Pacific Leaders have highlighted the importance of strengthening support for and resourcing coastal fisheries.
Significantly, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), and in particular, Goal 14, have focused the collective resolve of the international community on the management and preservation of marine resources. For the Pacific Island Countries, this global consensus amplifies, and places equal weight on the realisation of greater economic returns from oceans. Specifically, SDG 14.7 commits the international community to increasing the economic benefits from fisheries for Small Island Developing States.
Towards these ends, regional processes and indicators are currently being developed to guide the pursuit of national priorities, as well as multilateral targets. Our regional approach is supported by a structured policy dialogue, through the Pacific Oceans Alliance targeted at ensuring coherence between international commitments, and the high level policy objectives aspired to under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the Fisheries Roadmap.
The Forum Secretariat welcomes the platform established by Fish 2.0 to incubate and nurture sustainable fisheries businesses. By linking seafood businesses to investors and industry experts, the Fish 2.0 Regional Hotspot aims to build capacity and match participants with relevant industry partners and potential investors. It is our expectation that this innovative competition will serve to strengthen existing fisheries businesses, catalyse new and more resilient enterprises, and strengthen existing business models. Over 60% of the enterprises participating in Fish 2.0 in 2015 gained investment, new partners or new customers from connections made during this event.
Fish 2.0 offers a bridge between the regions fisheries objectives, the private sector and industry experts. This proven tripartite approach is one that has already yielded benefits and can serve as a model to be replicated in other sectors of strategic interest to our region.
To realise the catalytic outcomes envisaged by our Leaders, adjustments are required to existing business practice to ensure that the Pacific fisheries sector is fit-for-purpose and embodies global best practice in innovation, resilience and commercial success.
We look forward to businesses capitalizing on the opportunity presented by this initiative to build networks and explore synergies with each other.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Trade & Invest are pleased to be associated with Fish 2.0.
I wish you well in your deliberations.