Opening Remarks by the Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee Ministers Hon. Semi Koroilavesau (Fiji)

·  Distinguished Honourable Ministers of our Forum Fisheries Agency member countries

· Director-General Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen and members of the FFA Secretariat

· Ladies and gentlemen

1. Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

2. Thank you for this opportunity to call our meeting to order.

3. I would like to start by asking us to kindly observe a moment of silence in honour of our colleague, the late Honourable Minister Marion Henry of the Federated States of Micronesia, who was recently called to eternal rest.

4. I also ask that our moment of silence be accorded to a key member of the Secretariat, Mr. Jovilisi Buikoto.

5. Honourable Ministers, Fiji is deeply honoured to chair both the FFA Committee of Officials and the Ministerial Committee this year, and I wish to thank the Republic of the Marshall Islands for leading us in the past two years.

6. We recognize that we are in unprecedented times in recent history. The COVID-19 global pandemic has up-ended all our lives, our economies, health systems and even threatening our food security, among other things.

7. The pandemic is challenging all of us to work even more closely with one another and to place some urgency in addressing issues that affect the livelihoods of our people, and the sustainability of our ocean resources.

8. Honourable Ministers, I trust that you have had the opportunity to read through the Papers that our senior officials have prepared.

9. Among these documents are the Annual Report Executive Summary for 2020-21, and updates on the Tuna Treaty with the United States of America, and the WCPFC Fishing grounds.

10.You will all agree that we need to make traction towards finalizing the Tuna Treaty negotiations. We have an opportunity to strengthen this Treaty to realise a true alliance – one based on mutual respect for one another, and on ensuring ongoing support for our small economies because at the end of the day, this Treaty must be of mutual benefit – benefit to one of our major development partners and benefit to all our respective economies and peoples, including the sustainable management of our resources.

11. There are of course many other important issues to discuss, and so let take this opportunity to thank the Director-General and the Secretariat for the continuity they have studiously provided in support of our Officials, and to us over the next two days.

12. Might I end by appealing for greater solidarity among us as we work in unity for the benefit of our people and region for both the immediate period and way into the future.

13.Vinaka vakalevu and I wish you all the best for today.