FFCMIN14: Sustainability of South Pacific Albacore, WCPFC 2017, and FFA leadership change on the priority list-- new Chair (STATEMENT)

--(Salutations) Delivered by Australia's  Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water, Senator Ann Ruston, as FFCMIN Chair.
 I would like to thank previous meeting chair, Vanuatu, and acknowledge their great work in steering the FFA through a challenging 2016. I would also like to thank Mr Kerry Jones for welcoming us to Country. 
This meeting has required considerable effort and I would like to acknowledge the work of Mr Ian Thompson of Australia and his staff at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources who have helped organise what will be an enjoyable and productive meeting.
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) achieved some great results last year, particularly in securing vital protection for fisheries observers at sea. It is worth noting that observers are away at sea for weeks or months at a time to do the important work that is required of them - to gather independent scientific information.
Improving protections for these workers has been a great achievement of the FFA over the last year and demonstrates the benefits of strong collaboration within our region. Unfortunately, the tragic loss of an observer from Papua New Guinea last week demonstrates continued need to improve safety for our observers at sea.  
The FFA plays an important role in the global effort to cooperate on the conservation and management of fish stocks and the marine ecosystems in which they exist. By working together Nation states can and do achieve a great deal more than working alone.
I acknowledge the support provided by the FFA Secretariat to members by providing expertise, technical assistance and other support concerning tuna resources. I commend Director General James Movick, Deputy Director General Wez Norris and your staff on the work you do to support the FFA members.
Your endurance and work over the past nearly 40 years, has facilitated regional cooperation for the benefit of our tuna industry which is so important for many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific and the economic well-being of our countries.
The action that we take together demonstrates our commitment to this important objective to the broader international community.
There are plenty of issues to tackle, like addressing the Vietnamese Blue Boats, but there are also plenty of opportunities such as the commencement of the Aerial Surveillance Program.
It is good to see so many familiar faces from the Ministerial Workshop held in Honiara in March earlier in the year. I’d also like to welcome to those Ministers I am meeting for the first time.
I was delighted to travel to Honiara to attend the Fisheries Ministers Workshop. The workshop focused heavily on monitoring, control and surveillance, and the ways we can combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as seen by the work on the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC).
A recent CSIRO report finds that illegal fishing is the third most lucrative crime in the world, after weapons trafficking and drug smuggling. It estimated that there are 26 million tons of illegal, unreported and unregulated fish are caught each year. This is worth approximately US $23 billion.
We all agree on the need to work together to stamp out illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Our unity and collaboration contributes to our goal of strengthening national capacity and regional solidarity.
Australia’s ratification of the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement during the margins of this meeting represents our commitment to work with you to collaboratively tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Australia is committed to ensuring Pacific fishing industries continue to develop. We want to see industry sustaining direct jobs in the region while contributing to food security and generating economic returns. 
Australia boasts a small but important fishing industry as many of you saw yesterday. Our east coast tuna fishery supports coastal communities across a 3000km stretch of the Australian coast and provides premium product to Australian and overseas markets.
We share the concerns of our fellow FFA members in securing the rights of coastal states and ensuring that fisheries are sustainable.
We are proud to showcase our industry through Australia’s hosting of the FFC meetings this year. There are many matters to be addressed including: Working together to improve the sustainability of south Pacific albacore, preparing for this year’s tropical tuna negotiations at the Western and Central Pacific Committee (WCPFC), and preparation for the recruitment of the Director General and Deputy Director General.
Thank you again and I look forward to a productive meeting.--ENDS