“Not just a leader, but a champion”-- FFA’s Movick salutes Minister Elisala Pita as Pacific nations join Tuvalu in mourning
Tuesday 23 August 2016, FFA HQ, SOLOMON ISLANDS—The sudden passing of Tuvalu’s Minister for Natural Resources and Development, Elisala Pita, in Funafuti on Monday 22 August has left his many Pacific and global colleagues “grieving and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of someone who was not just an outstanding leader for his nation, but a champion for Pacific fisheries,” says the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director-General, James Movick.
Minister Pita, who was elected in a 2013 by-election in Tuvalu’s two-seat constituency, Nukufetau (Prime Minister Enele Sopo’aga holds the other seat), went on to become a senior member of the Sopo’aga cabinet, holding the Fisheries portfolio. He was no stranger to both worlds, already playing a leading role in Fisheries before taking on politics, and previously serving Nukufetau in Parliament from 2003-2010.
Born on 4 November 1951, Elisala Pita was one of the initial tranche of Pacific Islander national fisheries officers as his country and others attained independence. “The role of that generation in setting up fisheries management from which we benefit today is a debt that we owe to Minister Pita and other pioneering colleagues,” says DG Movick.
“Minister Pita will be particularly remembered for his active and committed chairmanship of the committee of Pacific fisheries Ministers over the past year. His strong leadership, personal engagement and steady support contributed significantly to the successful adoption of the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries that was endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2015 and the successful renegotiation of the fisheries Treaty between Pacific countries and the US in June of this year. He truly deserved all of the accolades that he received at the completion of his term in July.”
“His work at the helm of Tuvalu and Pacific Fisheries management and his passion and commitment for fisheries and its use in the service of our people provided a platform for his outstanding national, regional and global leadership. His vast experience and clarity of vision also came into play with his exemplary steering of the FFC through one of its most turbulent periods.”
“In fact, when Minister Elisala spoke at the annual FFC Fisheries Ministers Meeting in Vanuatu in July, where he handed over the chairmanship to Minister Matai Seremaiah Nawalu of Vanuatu, , he gave the region and industry a taste of where he would be placing his energies moving forward – into effective engagement at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and making sure that Tuvalu and Pacific voices are heard in international negotiations affecting the Pacific Oceanic resources. He was not about to relax or slow down and was already eyeing the next challenge on the horizon,” says DG Movick.
The current Ministerial Chair, Minister Nawalu, noted the “immense legacy” left by his predecessor. “As a newer minister in the regional Fisheries family, I relied heavily on Minister Pita for guidance and advice in my first Ministerial meeting as he handed over the duties of FFC Chair,” he says. “I was left very impressed and energised by his approach and clear focus on the way forward for his country, and our region. Indeed, as my Ministry and Government join me in our condolences to the nation of Tuvalu for their loss, and the family of Minister Pita, I feel a strong sense that we have all lost a father for Pacific fisheries, a rare leader whose final words to us in Vanuatu will help to light the way forward through this time of grief.”
DG Movick is joined by all staff and families of the FFA, FFC and member nations across the Pacific in sending condolences and respects to the family of the late Elisala Pita -- his wife Vaovai, son Foekatea, daughters Malii, Puaolele, Suria and Masikiga, and 10 grandchildren. --ENDS