New film 'Oceanic Guardians' launched today to celebrate Pacific Island success in establishing rules for fishing

A new film titled 'Oceanic Guardians' was launched today by the UNDP-GEF funded Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP) at the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Celebrating the success of Pacific Islands' negotiations to establish a tuna commission to set and enforce rules on tuna fishing, 'Oceanic Guardians' is shot in high definition video featuring the world's first underwater footage of longline fishing in the Pacific Islands, traditional canoe racing in the Solomon Islands and Tongan-owned and crewed patrol boats and fishing vessels.

These dramatic images are accompanied by interviews with real-life 'Oceanic Guardians' from the Pacific Islands region who have been at the forefront of negotiations with foreign fishing nations to establish the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and use it to control illegal fishing and introduce other world-first conservation and management measures. These measures include the responses to bigeye tuna overfishing, introduction of fisheries
observers on fishing vessels to monitor compliance, closing of high seas pockets to fishing and introduction of measures to limit bycatch of sharks, seabirds and turtles. As an example of the Pacific Islands many successes, 'Oceanic Guardians' features a special look at Tonga's use of the WCPFC to take action against an illegal fishing vessel in 2008.

'Oceanic Guardians' is produced in the Pacific Islands by the OFMP, which provides resources from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), to Pacific Islands to strengthen management of their oceanic fisheries. Pacific Islands receive assistance such as training, technical support, fisheries management, legal, compliance and scientific advice and assistance, coordinated and delivered by regional organisations
Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), International Union for the Conservation of Nature  (IUCN), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association (PITIA).

GEF Secretariat in Washington DC, US, Senior Advisor, International Waters, Alfred Duda said: "I have followed the progress of your 14 countries since the first GEF project was requested back in 1998. We were proud that the Pacific Island Countries collaborated on the negotiations of the treaty with GEF/UNDP assistance and that they followed up with a request for another project to help the WCPFC become functional. 'Oceanic Guardians' clearly illustrates successful
operations of the Commission in advancing sustainable management of your shared tuna resource. More importantly, the changes needed in the laws of individual island countries are still progressing under the GEF/UNDP project. When completed, Pacific Islanders will have all the tools needed to benefit economically from your tuna stocks while sustaining them for your children through modern ecosystem-based approaches to management."

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General N.F. Tanielu Su'a said: "As the coordinating agency of the Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project, we are proud to launch this film today and profile our real-life Oceanic Guardians who have protected the world's last remaining healthy tuna stocks and been leaders in sustainable fisheries management. As small island developing states, with limited resources, the Pacific Islands may not have had these
successes without the funding support of the Global Environmental Facility and others.  We are pleased to share these success stories with the global community through the launch of this film today."

Special thanks for the production of this film: One News Limited, Solomon Islands, the Department of Fisheries, Tonga, and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Secretariat.