Minister Discusses on Fisheries Cooperation and the Important of this Forum to the Pacific Island Countries

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China – Pacific Island Countries Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers Meeting 2023 Afioga: Hon. La’auli Leuatea Polāta’ivao Fosi – Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, SAMOA

Honorable Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers and distinguished guests, it is an honor to address you today on fisheries cooperation and why this forum, is important to our Pacific Island countries.

Fisheries provide a vital source of food and livelihood for all our peoples in the Pacific. So we are concerned about the many issues it currently faces. This includes overfishing, illegal fishing, and climate change among other issues that place tremendous pressure on our fisheries resources. This is why this forum of ministers is so crucial to our success in fisheries management in all our countries and China.

As you know, in the Pacific, cooperation between all countries is now a requirement for effective fisheries management for coastal and oceanic fisheries. This is important as fish such as tuna and other pelagic fish, do not respect national boundaries, and they move freely across our EEZs. To manage these resources sustainably, we have recognized that we must all work together to ensure that fishing is conducted in a responsible and equitable manner.

In Samoa, we also encourage cooperation with our fishers. The Commercial Fisheries Management Advisory Committee is a round table dialogue between our Government and all our Commercial Fisher representatives. This ensures we maintain a dialogue, to ensure fishers understand our current concerns, and vice versa. This allows all parties to stay informed on current and emerging issues in fisheries. It was clear to Samoa very early that to promote fisheries sustainability, our communities, our fishers, and all stakeholders will need to establish good and clear communication pathways.

One key aspect that we must encourage is cooperation in the sharing of scientific information; this will be the key to our success.

We must have accurate and up – to date data on fish stocks and their habitats to make informed decisions about how much and where to fish. Sharing this information, with government agencies and between countries, and also with regional organizations will help us understand better, the health of fish populations and the impacts of fishing on our ecosystems.

We must also cooperate in the enforcement of fisheries regulations. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) is a major threat to the sustainability of our fisheries resources.

These issues can undermine all our efforts and threaten the livelihoods of those who depend on the oceans for food security and income. By working together to combat IUU fishing, we will protect our fish stocks and ensure that fishing is conducted legally and sustainably. This inevitably improves thevalue of fisheries for everyone.

In addition to sharing information and enforcing regulations, cooperation can also take the form of joint management arrangements. For example, Pacific Island countries have established various instruments, treaties, and conventions to help us sustain our fisheries resources. Pacific Island countries mainly work together on fisheries issues through the work of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Western Central Pacific Tuna Commission among other organizations. By working together this way, we have now started the process of ensuring that all our fish stocks are managed sustainably and thus the benefits are shared equitably among all parties. This is still a work in progress because we recognize that everyone with a stake in the oceans and its resources must work together.

Furthermore, cooperation can also take the form of capacity building and technical assistance.

Many Island countries are developing countries that lack the resources and expertise to manage their fisheries effectively. By providing technical assistance and capacity-building support from our fishing partners such as China and the US and others, we are able to ensure that we develop sustainable fisheries management programs to ensure all fishing activities are conducted in a responsible manner.

Finally, fisheries cooperation will also involve the sharing of benefits. Working together, also ensures the benefits from the harvest of our fisheries resources are shared equitably among all countries involved in cooperation on fisheries issues.

In conclusion, our cooperation in fisheries matters and is essential for the sustainable management of our oceans and their resources. By sharing scientific information, enforcing regulations, jointly managing resources, providing capacity-building and technical assistance, and sharing benefits, we can ensure that fishing is conducted in a responsible and equitable manner.

As Fisheries Ministers, we have a responsibility to work together to protect our oceans and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. Let us rise to this challenge and work together for a sustainable and prosperous future for all our people.

Soifua ma ia manuia, Xiexie.