The five-day meeting, which had delegates from the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and its 17 member states attending, worked on mapping out recommendations for the 15th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministers Meeting (FFCMIN15) which will be held on Rarotonga in July.
Outgoing FFA director-general James Movick congratulated the Cook Islands government for the wonderful hosting and service it provided to the delegates.
He also congratulated Tepaeru Herrmann, secretary for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, for a superb job in chairing the forum.
Movick said the meeting was very successful in terms of reaching decisions on the recommendations that they would be presenting to the ministers in the Forum Fisheries Committee Ministers Meeting in July.
“I think we have made some good progress in this (meeting),” said Movick.
“As a director general I’m happy that the budget and the work programme for the year have been approved by the agency.”
The delegates from around the Pacific attending the meeting made substantial progress and agreed to a number of key issues that can now be tabled at the fisheries ministers meeting.
“We have got the regional monitoring patrol and surveillance strategy which has been endorsed by this committee for the ministers for further endorsement,” Movick said.
“This region has been very successful in regional monitoring and surveillance. In fact, we lead many developing and developed country regions in terms of our collective approach to MSC (Monitoring, Control and Surveillance), so it’s good to see the strategy going forward which provides a framework for the future.”
The members also recommended the development of a regional longline strategy, with the aim being to ensure stronger economic benefits for members, and a special focus on albacore, which is of relevance to Cook Islands.
“This is to try to address some of the roadblocks that we currently have in regards to longline conservation and management or longline management in particular,” Movick said.
“What the committee has agreed is to recommend a more holistic approach, looking at all the longline fisheries in the region collectively to see if we can focus on ways going forward that we can maximise economic opportunities to the countries while retaining a sustainable resource.”
In addition, Movick said one of the highlights of the meeting was the report from their partners at The Pacific Community (SPC) on the scientific status of the tuna stock.
“Data shows all tuna stocks are healthy and substantially managed, but we know some sectors of the fishery are more profitable than others. The region has the most healthy tuna stocks of any international fishery and for this reason our work is of utmost importance.”