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Cook Islander misses out on top fishery job

Thursday 1 December 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Regional


Cook Islander misses  out on top fishery job
From left: Dr. Lara Manarangi-Trott with Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration and Special Envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum Tepaeru Herrmann, H.E. Jim Armistead Cook Islands High Commissioner to Fiji, and Secretary of Education Danielle Cochrane. 22101917

Rhea Moss-Christian from the Marshall Islands has been appointed the new Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) executive director beating Cook Islander Dr Lara Manarangi-Trott.

It makes Moss-Christian the first female executive director in the WCPFC’s almost 20-year history.

She will take over from March next year when outgoing executive director Feleti Teo from Tuvalu steps down from the position after eight years of service.

A formal announcement by the WCPFC is expected on Thursday in Da Nang, Vietnam, where the Commission’s 19th Regular Session is being held.

The Cook Islands is one of 26 member countries that are part of the Commission and has delegates at the conference.

Cook Islands News understands the interviews with the Commission for the top job were held on Tuesday. The executive director is appointed by the member governments of the WCPFC.

Both Manarangi-Trott and Moss-Christian’s candidacies were backed by their respective governments.

Prime Minister Mark Brown, told Cook Islands News, “fingers crossed”, Manarangi-Trott would get the job prior to the WCPFC meeting.

“It will be a feather in the Cook Islands cap to have a Cook Islander,” Brown said last week.

Manarangi-Trott is currently the WCPFC’s secretariat compliance manager.

In a statement the Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said Manarangi-Trott’s involvement with the WCPFC started as a regular member of the national delegation and spanned the lifetime of the Commission.

Manarangi-Trott holds a Doctor of Philosophy in International Law from the University of Wollongong, a post-graduate diploma in Organisational Leadership from the University of Oxford, and has received international recognition for her expertise in fisheries management.

PM Brown, in an official endorsement letter prior to the event, said he was confident that Manarangi-Trott would have been a suitable candidate.

“The Cook Islands has full trust that as executive director, she will lead the organisation in achieving even further success,” Brown said in the letter.

The successful candidate, Moss-Christian has been involved in fisheries for over 20-year. She made history when she became the first woman to be elected as chair of the Commission in 2014, she was elected into a second two-year term in 2016. Moss-Christian holds master’s and post-graduate degrees from Stanford University and Oxford University.

Outgoing executive director Teo, in his opening speech, said he was given the “insurmountable responsibility” of the job in 2014 at the 11th Regular WCPFC Session.

“A responsibility I would like to think I carried with all seriousness, and with dignity and humility,” Teo said.

“Now, as I look back, I am very grateful and respectful to having been a very small part of the journey of the WCPFC for the last eight years.

“As the WCPFC scaled new heights and stood tall amongst the other tuna RFMOs (regional fisheries management organisations) with many success stories and achievements unmatched by its counterparts in other regional oceans. A moment to treasure and revel in it.”

  • Caleb Fotheringham in Da Nang, Vietnam. Fotheringham’s trip was made possible by The Ocean Foundation.