Issues involving Oceanic fisheries are becoming increasingly complex for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), says outgoing director-general James Movick.
And he says the FFA needs to develop new approaches to engaging with other stakeholders and with other sectors in order to overcome those challenges.
Speaking at the opening reception of the 15th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministers Meeting (FFCMIN15) at the National Auditorium, Movick said the days when fisheries or any resource and economic sector could be walled off in an “untouchable silo”, were over, Cook Island news reports.
This year’s meeting was perhaps an even more important ministerial meeting than usual, he added.
“Your decisions will shape regional fisheries policy organisation as well as the long term role, governance and performance of your agency into the future,” Movick said.
“Most importantly, your decisions will direct and influence how we can continue our collective work to conserve, protect, manage and develop our tuna resources for the betterment of our people now and into future generations.”
Movick told the ministers their consideration of their role in the FFA strategic plan was to give them real ownership over the future role of FFA in addressing regional collective needs and supporting national management and development efforts.
“I urge ministers to take the time to consider and talk amongst yourselves to ensure your ownership of the strategic plan review process and outcomes.”
Movick also elaborated on the important regional initiative in the FFA-managed civilian air surveillance programme under the Australian Defence-funded Pacific Maritime Security Programme.
He said the new civilian air surveillance would supplement the existing 400 hours of fisheries air surveillance that the region receives from our four military/Coastguard fisheries surveillance partners (Australia, New Zealand, France and the US), with an additional 1400 hours of air surveillance each year.
One of the exciting aspects of the new civilian air surveillance capacity was that the aircraft could be tasked to undertake surveillance for potential fisheries violations and broader law enforcement surveillance and apprehension tasks, said Movick.
“This new programme commenced in January this year with an interim Cessna aircraft commencing trial operations in Palau before heading to RMI and Tuvalu.
“Just this past weekend, the programme was boosted by the first of two higher capacity KingAir aircraft which landed in Apia in preparation for regional deployment.”
He said ministers would be briefed on the status of the programme and the air surveillance during the meeting.
“You will be asked to consider recommending to Foreign Ministers and to Forum leaders that FFA members formally agree to provide uniform diplomatic and concessionary treatment to the aircraft operations under the programme.
“This uniform concessionary treatment would signify Forum member commitment to this new capability and partially reciprocate the significant annual funding from Australia and the FFA secretariat surveillance services.”
Meanwhile prime minister Henry Puna acknowledged Movick, whose term with FFA ends later in the year, for his service.
“James has been an outstanding leader, and I recognise his dedicated service in assisting FFA members, to collectively manage our tuna resources, over his six-year tenure at the helm of the FFA Secretariat,” Puna said.
“James, your advice and support has been invaluable. Your efforts in enhancing the reputation and capability of the FFA, and in actively working to build regional co-operation, has underpinned the progress we have made, in sustainably managing the Pacific’s most important shared resource.
“I know that James will continue to show this leadership, not only in his final months as director-general, but in all his ongoing engagement and commitment with the region, that he has served in such a dedicated and principled fashion.”