World Bank, FFA Pacific Oceanscape signing- growing tuna benefits to Pacific

FFA Director General James Movick (second from left) with the World Banks Franz Drees-Gross, Centre and Solomon Islands Fisheries leaders including Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources John Maneniaru (second from right).

Friday 30th January 2015, HONIARA—A World Bank grant of US3.9m will be used by FFA to  support up to an additional US$36.00 million in grants primarily for national activities in offshore and coastal fisheries management and development in four Pacific Island counties that are participating in the first phase of the World Bank’s Pacific Regional Oceanscape Programme. 
In a short ceremony held in Honiara this week FFA Director-General James Movick and the World Bank’s Country Director Franz Drees-Gross signed off on the formal agreements, which will help FFA, member countries and other regional agencies to strengthen the sustainable management of oceanic fisheries. The World Bank funding through the Global Environment Facility, GEF and the Pacific Regional Oceanscape programme, PROP, will support capacity building initiatives for Pacific fisheries and offshore development, and look at ways to ensure more of the economic benefits from sustainable tuna fishing remains in the Pacific.

“The Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Programme is a major initiative by the World Bank and the Global Environment Fund to mobilize serious funding for a priority regional resource, with particular emphasis on fisheries,” says Movick.  He says the Pacific Oceanscape initiative highlights how regional agencies can synergise their efforts to provide the best outcomes for member nations. FFA will serve as the funding and reporting conduit for funding actions that will include activities by the Office of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) in Majuro, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Noumea, and the Office of the Pacific Oceanscape Commissioner located at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva. FFA will also support and coordinate collective reporting by national program support units that will be established in the participating countries, presently Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.  

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Movick said the FFA “is pleased to be able to assist the World Bank in implementing these fisheries surveillance, management and development activities. What pleases us most is that the bulk of the US$39m PROP funding money is going directly to national level activities under national control and discretion. FFA has a role to play of course; tuna are highly migratory fish and tuna stocks cannot be effectively managed for maximum national benefit by any one country working in isolation.

Regional organisations provide the collaborative links that make the system work – the joint surveillance exercises, the regional agreements on minimum standards applied to foreign fishing vessels, and the conservation measures that need to be applied across the board to ensure that regional stocks remain fishable, not only by the current generation but by all generations to come.”

 He says the Pacific Regional Oceanscape programme is “a key building-block in achieving economically and biologically sustainable tuna fisheries for the Pacific.”  The PROP will build on existing fisheries management policies and frameworks already adopted by governments and administrations in the region, and provide the tools that enable the individual participating governments to put these collaborative frameworks into action.

“We expect substantive change,” Movick says, “Other regions are already looking at the way that Pacific SIDS are collaboratively asserting our rights to manage and make the most out of their EEZ fisheries through mechanisms like the PNA Vessel Days Scheme. This project will further enhance this region’s capabilities and standing in the global oceans community.”

The Pacific Regional Oceanscape Progamme will help PNA members push the VDS to the next level, and generate much-needed support for extending EEZ rights-based mechanisms to the longline fisheries, including southern albacore longline fisheries. The programme, will also enable the participating governments to tackle important resource conservation and economic utilization issues in their coastal fisheries, says Movick. 

“FFA is pleased and proud that our management and financial accounting systems have been determined by World Bank and GEF to be the most efficient and reliable conduit by which to deliver this program across the various regional players. You can be assured that we will undertake our role and responsibilities with full seriousness and commitment, to better ensure that this program delivers the outputs and outcomes that are intended.”

The signing event also included World Bank grants to the Solomon Islands in three areas—for Economic Reform and Recovery (US5m), Rural Development (US9m and AUD15m from Australia) and the Pacific Regional Oceanscape Programme (US9.74m)-–ENDS