FFA High Level Delegation in Tonga this week

NUKU’ALOFA, THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2008: A high level delegation from the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) met with Tongan leaders this week to discuss Tongan fisheries.

The FFA Director General Su'a N.F. Tanielu, accompanied by the Director of Fisheries Management, development adviser and legal officer from FFA, met Acting Minister of Agriculture and Food, Forest and Fisheries Hon. Lisiate ‘Akolo, the department’s Director and Deputy Director and a project consultant to discuss Tonga’s national priorities for fisheries and how FFA can assist with expertise, services and other support.

This high level delegation is one of a series of meetings between senior officials from FFA and member countries to discuss how FFA can provide advice and assistance to further national interests and priorities in managing and developing tuna fisheries. The high level talks are an important part of FFA's ongoing efforts to increase national capacity and strengthen regional solidarity so that member countries can manage their fisheries for the benefit of people today and for future generations.

FFA provided information about how the Tongan long line tuna fishing industry can regain commercial viability, expand its fishing and boost the local economy. The Tongan Acting Minister and FFA agreed to an initial concept note of how to work together on a project that will enable government to create new opportunities for Tongan industry to grow and expand.

FFA extended its thanks to the Tongan Government for their input into shaping the priorities for its in-country assistance to Tonga, one of the 17 members of FFA. A high level FFA delegation visited Tuvalu earlier this year, where the delegation coincided with the launch of a new Fisheries Development Master Plan and discussed upcoming bilateral negotiations and WCPFC5 issues. At the Fiji high level delegation, a number of areas in which for FFA assistance were identified including a study of institutional strengthening requirements of the Fisheries Department; a review of the national Tuna Development and Management Plan; a review of Fiji Fisheries legislation; further training for observers and their deployment on US multilateral treaty vessels; and technical support with the Vessel Monitoring System.
FFA’s in-country consultations and projects, along with its regional work, is an important part of carrying out the Pacific Plan and the Vava’u Declaration on Pacific Fisheries Resources, endorsed by Pacific leaders in Tonga in 2007.