FFA director-general James Movick and Australia’s assistant minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, yesterday signed a new 10-year Partnership Agreement at the annual Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) meeting held at the Edgewater Resort and Spa.
Movick noted that Australia was both an active member and a strong participant and financial supporter of a wide range of key agency activities.
“Our relationship with Australia is enduring and broad-based: Australia, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, provides in excess of $AU5 million in annual financial support and the great majority of this permits us to make budgetary allocations in a very flexible way towards our highest priorities,” said Movick.
“Separate funding is also dedicated to advancing implementation of the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement which promotes interoperability, information exchange and collective regional actions against illegal fishing.”
Movick said that the Australian partnership assistance to FFA was separate from the substantial funding that Australia also provided to FFA members through FFA for regional fisheries surveillance activities, including the new civilian air surveillance program under the Australian-funded Pacific Maritime Security Programme.
“That Australian Defence funding of around AU$5 million annually will enable FFA to deploy an additional 1400 hours of aerial surveillance through two dedicated King Air aircraft across the FFA region.
“This will not only be a major boost to our efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, but it will enhance the overall security of our region through greater maritime domain awareness.”
Movick said that through the priorities identified within the FFA Annual Work Programme, Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources had participated actively in FFA’s regional fisheries management processes and was a recognised leader in promoting the harvest strategy approach towards the sustainable management of vital offshore tuna stocks.
The new 10 year partnership agreement reflects this broad-based engagement.
Australia’s support for the agency reflects also the endorsement by Pacific Islands leaders in 2015 of the Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries.
Movick thanked Australia for its chairmanship of the Forum Fisheries Committee over the past 12 months, with the baton now passed on to the Cook Islands.
“Australia’s principled and enthusiastic chairmanship of the FFC again demonstrates the strong and unique sense of regionalism and collaboration that typifies our work within the fisheries sector.
“I thank Australia sincerely for its broad-based and enduring support.”