COVID-19 impacts lead agenda for FFA Fisheries Ministerial meeting

HONIARA, 5th August 2020 – THE first ever Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting to be held online opens tomorrow, with the impacts of COVID-19 on the regional tuna fishery at the top of the agenda.

The 17th FFC Ministers meeting (6-7 August) is occurring virtually, due to travel restrictions arising from the pandemic.

Fisheries Ministers will consider ways in which FFA can provide further assistance around the Observer Programme, including how observer livelihood can be sustained as well as Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) support, and national economic impact assessments.

Ministers will also be provided with the Tuna Fisheries Report Card 2020 before it is submitted to Forum Leaders later this year. The Card reports on progress against a range of indicators in the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Fisheries.

FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said: “The pandemic has had a significant impact on the work of FFA Member countries, particularly around MCS. For example, it is now extremely difficult to place observers on-board fishing vessels, due to travel restrictions and health and safety concerns, and requirements for fishing vessels to carry observers have been suspended.

“The FFA Secretariat has been providing assistance to Members to help them address the impacts of COVID-19, including studies to review food security and how best to support Observers over the longer term.”

The meeting will take place via a virtual meeting platform.  Dr Tupou-Roosen said greater use of such technologies in the wake of the pandemic had reinforced the value of investing in appropriate wireless broadband capabilities throughout the Pacific region.

“Our Member countries see an opportunity to invest in technology, with a range of flow-on benefits for time and cost savings in the way FFA works,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.

“While the pandemic has been extremely challenging, it has also given Members and the Secretariat a chance to reflect on how we consolidate approaches to fisheries issues. The region can emerge as even more resilient.”

ENDS//