Deputy Secretary General, Andie Fong’s address at the Ministerial Meeting on the Evaluation of the Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance & Compliance Regime

Honiara, Solomon Islands

16 – 17 June 2016

 

 

  • Ministers, DG FFA, and esteemed colleagues –
  • I bring greetings from the Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor.
  • Thank you for this opportunity to talk about this very important area of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of our oceans and of our fisheries – particularly with respect to the role of the Pacific Islands Forum, and the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
  • Forum Leaders have long recognised the benefit of working collectively to address our common challenges.
  • In a region where the Pacific island countries share a vast ocean that is both an important resource and a means of transport, such regional cooperation – particularly to protect and secure our ocean – is vital.
  • The Framework for Pacific Regionalism represents the Forum Leaders’ efforts to work as a region to address our shared challenges.
  • The Framework calls for a renewed emphasis on regionalism; and it also calls for Forum Leaders to focus on the underlying political issues that enable regionalism.
  • The Framework also sets out a regional public policy process in which the public is able to put forward regional policy submissions.
  • There were a number of submissions on Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance arrangements in the first call for regional submissions, which was issued last year. These submissions came from a range of sources including from the Government of Palau, academia, and from the public.
  • Monitoring, Control and Surveillance is clearly an issue for the region as a whole, and one that has much interest across the community. Existing MCS assets could also provide a big picture of other transnational activities such as organised crime and other illegal activities in the region.
  • As a result of these submissions on regional MCS arrangements, which were subsequently endorsed by the Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism, Forum Leaders, as you heard last night from the Honourable Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, in their meeting in Port Moresby last year tasked the Fisheries, Economic and Foreign Ministers to undertake a joint comprehensive evaluation of the regional MCS and compliance regime and report back to Leaders in 2016.
  • The regional organisations also agreed that Ministers responsible for security had an important role to play and contribution to MCS issues.
  • And it is as a result of this request by Leaders that we are here in Honiara this week.
  • FFA member countries play a collective role in addressing threats arising from illegal fishing activities, which pose a threat to both national security and economic growth in the region.
  • At the Forum Regional Security meeting held in Suva last week, the Pacific Transnational Crime Assessment report highlighted that maritime security continues to be a significant issue for this region; and that it is an issue intrinsically linked to the economic potential and environmental integrity of our Ocean.
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a recognised global problem, which undermines the integrity of responsible fisheries management arrangements and results in lost value to coastal states.
  • IUU fishing has broad socio-economic impacts on Pacific island countries. It impacts on the sustainability of the oceanic fish stocks – the very resource that sustains our economies and trade in the wider Pacific region – and on Pacific island countries through direct loss of value of the catches that could be taken by Pacific island countries if IUU was not taking place.
  • This includes loss of GNP – actual revenue that could be accrued through the form of landing fees, license fees, taxes and other levies which are payable by legal fishing operators.
  • In addition to the direct macro-economic impacts, there are indirect and induced impacts, including the impacts resulting from loss of income and employment in other industries and activities in the seafood supply chain upstream and downstream from the fishing operation itself, and also induced demand on food security for Pacific Island Countries.
  • There is a need to improve the global presence of tuna products caught in our countries through improvements in electronic reporting, catch documentation and labelling practices.
  • The 2016 Pacific Transnational Crime Assessment report identified the presence of foreign fishing vessels in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) region that have potential links to other transnational criminal activities.
  • And although existing MCS activities are primarily fisheries specific and aimed at addressing IUU fishing, broader law enforcement efforts in the region could also contribute directly and/or indirectly to support efforts in tracking and controlling transnational organised crime.
  • The multilateral Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement provides the framework for sharing of fisheries data and intelligence for broader law enforcement purposes. This is an area that requires attention.
  • Further, existing assets at FFA, through the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Capture (RFSC) is also capable of monitoring commercial traffic in our region using satellite based AIS signals providing valuable intelligence on other maritime crimes.
  • There have been considerable efforts taken at the national, sub-regional and regional levels to mitigate IUU fishing in Pacific tuna fisheries. However, additional policy measures are required to strengthen incentives for voluntary compliance, reinforce deterrents to non-compliance and improve monitoring throughout the supply chain.
  • Ministers and colleagues, clearly, this speaks to the importance of your gathering here this week.
  • We, the Forum Secretariat, FFA, PNAO and SPC, are here to support you as you deliberate and consider the current arrangements in place.
  • We also look forward to seeing the outcomes of your discussions this week, and we look forward to reporting on your findings back to Leaders, and back to the broader community.
  • The Ocean is a continued source of sustenance for us all, and it is our collective responsibility to protect this great ocean, and to provide stewardship over it.
  • We wish you all the best. Thank you.