The Cook Islands was one of 22 Pacific island countries and territories that met last week for the thirteenth SPC Heads of Fisheries meeting.
Over one hundred participants took part in the meeting,
which was chaired by the United States and focused on fisheries priorities for
The SPC says enhancing scientific knowledge and technical
tools to better serve members are key priorities for the coming years.
Secretary Pamela Maru from the Ministry of Marine Resources
was among the regional heads of fisheries that participated.
A number of senior fisheries managers, field officers,
fisheries officers, donors, other regional agencies, and NGOs, attended this
regional meeting remotely to discuss the emerging priorities for the sector.
Three priorities are being aligned to the needs of SPC
member states in the post-Covid-19 recovery environment, the SPC said in a
They include digital transformation to enhance safe and
secure access to fisheries data, framework for scaling-up community-based
fisheries management, and the availability of scientific knowledge about
climate change impacts to inform fisheries management decisions.
“Improving scientific support for the Pacific fisheries includes
the development of web portals and data visualisation tools, as well as the
application of artificial Intelligence in electronic monitoring to improve data
collection,” said Neville Smith, SPC Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine
Ecosystem (FAME) Division Director.
“Enhancing existing strategic scientific assets will unleash
the potential to perform genetic and ecosystem analyses to answer specific
scientific questions from members and to build capacity in the region.”
In endorsing the draft framework for scaling up
community-based fisheries management, the SPC says the region gains a tool to
strengthen coastal communities’ effort in managing their fisheries resources.
Digital transformation can play a pivotal role in this area,
providing relevant and timely information for the fisheries community, the SPC
“The United States was pleased to chair the thirteenth Heads
of Fisheries meeting and seeing the scale of the work done by the Pacific
Community and members is impressive,” said Alexa Cole, acting Deputy Assistant
Secretary for International Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Following four days of valuable discussion, the Heads of
Fisheries endorsed the SPC priorities for 2021 and beyond.
The meeting outcomes will be forwarded to the upcoming Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting, which will be held in late July this year.