The theme for the 15th session of the FFA Ministerial meeting from July 2-5 is “Our Moana, Our Fish, Our future”. Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna, who also holds the fisheries portfolio, will chair the meeting, to be held at the Edgewater Resort Conference Centre.
Puna says the theme reflects the “Blue Pacific” messaging around leadership and stewardship by the large ocean states of the Pacific - the world’s largest and deepest ocean. It also emphasises the centrality of “strength through co-operation” amongst the Pacific membership, through almost 40 years of collective regional efforts in fisheries as facilitated by the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).
“The shift from thinking in terms of SIDS to that of large ocean states has been a deliberate part of our ‘Blue Pacific’ transformation in thinking,” says Puna. “It is imperative our commitments and actions reflect best practice and visionary thinking when it comes to managing and sustainably developing our shared ocean resources.
“The Cook Islands will continue to demonstrate how we balance our economic aspirations against our responsibilities to conserve and protect our Oceanic resource, not just within our exclusive economic zone, but on the high seas and across the region.”
This week’s gathering will also feature two key leadership transitions as the current Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) Chair Australia, hands over the year long tenure to the Cook Islands. FFC ministers will also confirm a new director general to take the helm at the FFA Secretariat’s Honiara headquarters. The current director-general, FSM’s James Movick, completes his tenure towards the end of 2018.
Ministers will consider a broad range of regional fisheries development and management issues including development of a regional longline strategy, aerial surveillance updates, report card annual updates on indicators for tuna and coastal fisheries, and priority issues for taking forward at the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Commission meeting, to be held in Hawaii at the end of year.
“The Cook Islands has been a staunch supporter of regional solidarity since the conception of the FFA almost 40 years ago,” said the prime minister.
“It is this regional approach that has allowed the region and each of us individually to sustainably manage our shared tuna resource and to provide strong economic returns, which in turn support our development priorities.
“We look forward to welcoming regional Ministers to Rarotonga and fruitful discussions this week.”