Opening Remarks by Mr. Shiu Raj, Director Programmes & Initiatives, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Roundtable: Workshop on Regional Oceanic Fisheries Governance, Management and Policy in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO)
(12th June 2018, Tanoa Plaza Hotel, Suva)
I bring to you the warm greetings of Dame Meg Taylor, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, who also assumes the role of the Pacific Oceans Commissioner and the Chair of the Fisheries Taskforce. Let me join others to welcome the regional and national CSO organisations and colleagues from regional and international agencies. Thank you to the WWF Pacific organisers for the kind invitation to deliver the opening remarks this morning.
Colleagues, the Secretariat is pleased to be supporting this initiative by the WWF Pacific through the European Union (EU) funded PIFS Non State Actors (NSA) Programme. Since the inception of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism in 2015, the Secretariat has been working with relevant stakeholders to promote and realise inclusive engagement of the Pacific people in Regional Policy discussions.
It has been encouraging to see the increased engagement of civil society organisations in the regional policy dialogue space over the last few years and I do understand that a lot of work has been put in by the CSOs in understanding this regional space and its processes to engage meaningfully and effectively. CSO engagement at FEMM and Leaders meetings are exemplary.
Fisheries has been identified by the Forum Leaders as a priority sector for the Pacific and the management of this important sector is key to contributing to the economic and sustainable development of the Pacific region. Fisheries is a standing agenda item for the annual Pacific Islands Leaders Forum.
I would like to share briefly two important decisions undertaken at the regional level for Fisheries management and governance.
Fisheries Taskforce on enhancing economic returns for fisheries
Leaders endorsed the establishment of a multi-agency Taskforce in 2015 to advance their decision on increasing economic returns from the region’s tuna resources.
Members of the Task Force includes, FFA, SPC, PNAO and PIFS (as the Chair). The Task Force is considering the major “game changing” initiatives that the Pacific region needs to focus on so that Pacific islanders get better economic returns.
Based on initial work undertaken in 2015/2016, Forum Leaders endorsed the work programme of the Fisheries Task Force consistent with the Goals and Strategies contained in the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries.
The work programme includes four thematic areas focusing on:
Significant progress has been made on all four components of the work assigned to the Fisheries Task Force. Additionally, the contours of “game changing” approaches that can be pursued towards achieving the Leaders’ decision are now emerging. This includes, establishing [formally or informally] a hub and spoke relationship where Pacific Island Countries best suited [geographically and by way of resources] to be processing hubs will be supplied by ‘non-hubs’. This approach will support economies of scale and deepen and streamline a regional fisheries value chain. Importantly, more of our fisheries resources will be processed in the region rather than exported unprocessed.
Additionally, ancillary services, will support the re-shoring of business opportunities that will increase the economic value of the fisheries sector retained by Pacific Island Countries. Indeed, the identified ancillary services provide opportunity for the expansion of employment opportunities beyond processing plants and crewing to the provision of high value employment opportunities in the financial, legal and engineering sub-sectors. Immediate attention is being paid to bunkering given that the Taskforce, in this instance led by the PNA, have agreed to pursue this initiative. Other initiatives include work on private sector development and ongoing support to establish a stable preferential trade and investment relationship between the Pacific islands and key markets for our fisheries products, for example the EU.
The coastal fisheries working group (CFWG) is a fine example where civil society and their communities are recognized as key stakeholders in the management of their resources. Being represented at the regional working groups demonstrate CROP agencies’ acknowledgement of the contribution of CSOs in promoting regionalism. I urge CSOs to continue to be part of the implementation and monitoring of the regional fisheries roadmap.
CSO contributions to the regional dialogue on Fisheries Governance and Management through their dialogue series with Forum TROIKA have raised issues surrounding the region’s lucrative fisheries resources. In 2017 at the Forum Leaders meeting in Samoa, CSOs reiterated the importance of fisheries under the Blue Pacific narrative and called for political and financial support to develop evidence based policies responding to research on fishery health, and the loss of tuna resources eastwards and on the high seas.
Building the capacity of CSOs through initiatives such as this policy workshop demonstrate that increasingly your voices and actions in determining the future of our shared resources remains a critical feature of our Pacific working together to achieve more than alone, and leaving no one behind.
Fisheries is the common resource to all our Pacific Islands and we need to ensure that we take a regional approach that effectively assists in the sustainable management of these resources.
The Blue Pacific narrative endorsed by our Leader in 2017 demonstrates the strongest commitment to act collectively to build on the various Oceans related policy initiatives undertaken over the years. There is a two-way correlation between the health of our oceans and the healthy fisheries stocks – both pelagic and coastal. I noted from your programme that you will focus on these aspects.
So before I finish, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support of the European Union through the PIFS NSA Programme in making today’s gathering possible.
I wish you all the best for the next three days of learning and sharing on the topic of regional fisheries governance and management.