SPEECHES: FISH BLONG YUMI, FIUJA BLONG YUMI- FORUM FISHERIES CHAIR REFLECTS ON IMPORTANCE OF TUNA TO VANUATU, PACIFIC

FISH BLONG YUMI, FIUJA BLONG YUMI- FORUM FISHERIES CHAIR REFLECTS ON IMPORTANCE OF TUNA TO VANUATU, PACIFIC
 
(Keynote address led by the Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee, Hon. Minister Matai Seremaiah Nawalu of Vanuatu,on the first UN World Tuna Day May, 2017)
 
This day 2nd May is a unique day internationally recognized as the United Nations World Tuna Day. Hon Ministers, member of Parliaments, Director Generals, Directors, the students especially students of Malapoa and teachers, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all to this first Celebration of World Tuna Day and I thank you for joining me and my team, the Vanuatu people, FFA members and the UN members around the world  to celebrate this day.
We have several important days that we celebrate every year but today is special for a resource that has been an important part of our live for many years. We eat tuna fresh from the sea from our fishermen, from canned tuna from the shops. Tuna sandwich, fresh sushimi and shusi, tuna jerky, smoked tuna, tuna salad and the many forms of tuna meat preparations that people around the world use to prepare their tuna meal. It is estimated that the world consume 256 million cases of tuna per year at a value of USD7.5 billion per year. So the celebration of this day is to highlight the importance of Tuna as the most widely consumed fish in the world. 
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a very special moment for Vanuatu as we come to an end of our year of leadership of the governing Council of the Forum Fisheries Agency. I’m especially honoured that on my watch as the Forum Fisheries Committee Chair of this reputable regional organization of FFA that I have this opportunity on behalf of FFC to be the first FFC Chair to celebrate this First World Tuna Day. FFA as you will know was set up by Pacific Leaders in August 1979 for the specific purpose of managing Tuna Fisheries in the region. 
May I also acknowledge the initiative of those PNA Fisheries Ministers who declared a World Tuna Day in 2011, marking the leadership by Pacific nations on World Tuna Day. It’s a great honour for me as Vanuatu Minister of Fisheries and current Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee, to be able to lead the regional family into the celebrations and wish us all the very best of a day that reminds us how truly blessed we are. We are the blue continent. We are the large ocean states of the world. We are the region from which the majority of the tuna being eaten all over the world is fished. Truly, today is a day we have been celebrating all our lives. It’s good to see the whole regional family is now part of the global party to celebrate the fish which feeds the world.
World Tuna Day is a time to raise awareness of the value of tuna to our nation. Current economic benefits from tuna fisheries to us in Vanuatu stands at over 500 million in direct revenue and indirect funding through the Fisheries sector. However, we believe the resource is worth much more than what we are getting now and we need to work extra harder to increase economic return from tuna industry through effective management of the fishery. 
 
So the theme of our celebration of World Tuna Day is ‘Our fish is our future” to reflect on our effort to develop our domestic tuna processing industry to maximize economic gain and provide employment and food security to our growing population. The participation of students on debate and various displays on tuna fisheries is encouraging. I take this time to thank Malapoa college students and teachers for their interest and dedication and the Hon Minister of Education for giving this school the chance to assist with this celebrations at the same time to help them educate themselves more about tuna and fisheries sector in general. Today there will also be a panel discussion for the public to share their views and ideas about tuna fisheries development opportunity, I encourage your all to share your views and ideas so that we all work together to build our tuna industry. 
 
I note that the Pacific Future of Fisheries Roadmap for Sustainable Fisheries brings Coastal and Offshore fisheries together. Given that tens of thousands of Vanuatu families depend on coastal fishing as a source of food and income especially outside of Port Vila, I was pleased to deliver the new annual report cards on the key indicators to Ministers and Forum Leaders in Pohnpei last year. These report cards are a welcome sign of the priority our leaders have given to Sustainable Coastal and Oceanic Fisheries and their central role for Pacific development. There is another important space Vanuatu is part of which I would like to highlight today and that is the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Commission, or WCPFC. Ensuring there is tuna for the future involves addressing the threats facing tuna populations and Vanuatu will continue its active commitment and participation as a member of the Pacific Tuna Commission to develop, uphold and support conservation and management measures that preserve sustainably managed tuna stocks into the future.
 
As I look around me today I am reminded that World Tuna Day is not just about fish. The Future of our Ocean resources depends upon all of us. I am thankful to see that the people for whom we do all this work, our youth-- are here. You, our future leaders and fisheries managers, observers, negotiators, exporters and marine biologists….are part of the celebrations today. Thank you to our students for your efforts and energy. Your voices are an important part of any policy, and I would welcome any efforts by education officials to ensure a tuna fisheries module as part of the national curriculum, to help raise awareness of the contribution of oceanic resources to this nation. 
 
May I also thank Tensley Kuautonga and the creative talents of Vanuatu, for sharing and celebrating the beauty of our Fishery through their work, and sharing that colour and life with the world. Tensley, as a fisherman and an artist, your artwork in honour of this World Tuna Day, will be the beginning of a permanent display of regional treasures to be shared with the world through its new home at the FFA secretariat in Honiara. May I also encourage our creative sector to continue this initiative and consider staging an annual World Tuna Day celebration showcasing your creative expo, for future generations to enjoy.
 
Also, a word of thanks for the partners in sharing the work of Vanuatu Fisheries with our people- the Media. MAV President Madame Evelyne Kaspan and your team, thank you for your partnership role in helping my Ministry to keep our communities and people of Vanuatu informed. We are proud to fully support and keep the channels of information flowing so that we all appreciate and are aware of the work, the challenges, and the achievements of our ministry.
I thank the Fishing industry for their contribution and support to the celebration of world tuna day, the Ministry of Internal Affairs for approving our request for the parade in town and also, thank  you VMF, for leading the march. 
 
An especial thank you to my Fisheries Officers for their continuous work in managing fisheries activities in the coastal waters, EEZ and internationally, the Police Maritime unit for their continuous surveillance work in the country and those dedicated Fisheries Observers working on board fishing vessels in our economic zone and in international waters. 
 
May I wish us all, the people of Vanuatu, our leaders and executive all the way to our maritime enforcement officers and our fisheries observers in Vanuatu and the region, a Hapi World Tuna Day. It’s our Fish and our Future- fish blong yumi, fiuja blong yumi
 
Thankyou, Mercu beaucoup and thank you tumas
 
ENDS