‘The sustainable management of our offshore tuna resources must deliver stronger economic and social benefits to our island communities,’ said Forum Fisheries Agency Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen in her key message as regional fisheries officials met in Pohnpei for the Forum Fisheries Committee this week.
‘Our offshore tuna fisheries in the Pacific are amongst the most sustainably managed of all global fisheries. The fisheries deliver high value to our island countries through zone-based management based on clear definition of the rights of FFA members to fisheries resources within our EEZs and on the high seas,’ she said.
Dr Tupou-Roosen stated that leaders have identified climate change as the most critical issue facing the region. ‘This is a complex issue and we need to identify targeted actions within the context of our tuna fisheries work, including through more effective collaboration with our regional partners and at the international level.’
Dr Tupou-Roosen anticipated that that FFA members will seek to advance the core elements of a new Regional Longline Strategy. This comes on the back of rising concerns that some longline fleets are avoiding licensing conditions by fishing and transhipping catch only on the high seas with little monitoring of catch and effort and no effective contribution to island revenues.
‘We need collectively to create the conditions for enhanced member benefits and member participation in the longline fishery, noting that differing components of the strategy will reflect the diversity of membership interests,’ Dr Tupou-Roosen said.
A further priority would be to agree priorities to enhance advocacy in the lead-up to the year-end Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting in Port Moresby in December. Advancing the FFA’s steady push towards the implementation of a harvest strategy approach to fisheries management will feature heavily in these discussions.
‘In celebrating our 40th year of operation we still face some big challenges,’ Dr Tupou-Roosen said. ‘But we retain a strong commitment to meeting these through the strength of our commitment to regional cooperation in the offshore fisheries sector.’