Vanuatu gears up to host 98th Forum Fisheries Meeting

1 May 2016, Port Vila, VANUATU – Pacific nations including Australia, New Zealand, and the 15 developing members of the regional Fisheries organisation, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, are in Port Vila this week and next week for the annual committee meeting of Forum Fisheries officials beginning this week for the Pre-FFC meetings at the VNPF House in preparation for formal FFC meeting to be held at Irririki Resort from 9 to 13 May 2016.

The FFC meets across the year to attend to urgent and ongoing fisheries matters of importance to the Forum, with the May event providing a focus on key agenda items for the Pacific’s high-level annual Fisheries event, the Forum Fisheries Ministerial meeting in July for endorsement. The 2016 Ministerial will also be hosted by Vanuatu. The last time Vanuatu host this annual FFC meeting was 17 years ago, and it is a privilege to host this important event again.

The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) role is to support its members strengthen national capacity and regional solidarity for its 17 members to manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future. Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA's 17 Pacific Island members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Since 1979, FFA has facilitated regional cooperation so that all Pacific countries benefit from the sustainable use of tuna – a multi-billion dollar resource important for many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific.

This week in Port Vila, Forum Fisheries heads and officials will look at current and emerging offshore fisheries issues with updates from the FFA executive, management, development and operations arms of the agency. Some of the important discussions include management of the Southern Albacore fishery, monitoring compliance and surveillance (MCS) operation, Observer programme, onshore development support, catch documentation and seafood quality. The meeting also look and the administrative and strategic planning frameworks for FFA.

Vanuatu’s Director of Fisheries Kalo Pakoa says his department is “excited and ready” to welcome Pacific regional Fisheries heads and officials to Vanuatu, noting the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Biosecurity (MLAFFB) and other line ministries in government have come together to ensure the outcomes of the 98th FFC meetings will feed into a successful Pacific Fisheries Ministerial event in July.

"Vanuatu is an important fishing nation in the region with up to 150 flag fishing vessels operating globally and licensing of 70 foreign longline vessels in the EEZ, these activities generated 300 million in government revenue annually. Onshore fisheries development such as the tuna processing development is the way forward to improve economic benefits from Vanuatu fisheries resources."

Pakoa says the convening of the FFC meeting in Vanuatu provides a welcome opportunity for the entire region to have a close up understanding of Fisheries in Vanuatu especially in light of the Future of Fisheries Roadmap and new report cards for Coastal and Offshore fisheries, endorsed by Pacific Leaders in 2015.

“The hosting of any regional event provides our country and people a chance to showcase and share our story, and our Fisheries story especially Fisheries Development, management and resources, is one we need to share more widely,” says Pakoa.–ENDS