Keynote Remarks by Honourable Lopao’o Natanielu Mu’á Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries

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6th ACP Senior Officials of Fisheries and Aquaculture Meeting”

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 @ 9.00am

TATTE CONFERENCE CENTRE

Reverend Nuúausala Siaosi  Siutaia

Assistant Secretary-General of the ACP Secretariat, Mr. Viwanou Gnassounou,

His Excellency Fatumanava Dr Paólelei Luteru, Chair of the ACP Working Group on Fisheries, and Ambassador of Samoa in Belgium,
Distinguished Senior Officials and Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Talofa lava and welcome to the 6th Senior Officials meeting of the ACP Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Before we begin, let us remember in our prayers and silent meditation the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, as they grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian which has resulted in the loss of many lives. In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked total havoc on the Bahamas, the devastation unrelenting. We in the Pacific share similar distress and human suffering, and have developed a sense of resilience through acceptance that such natural disasters are a part of our lives.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Bahamas  and may they find comfort and relief soon.

The Ministerial meeting held in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas in 2017, provided a comprehensive background on regional efforts to develop and manage fisheries resources in other ACP subregions outside of the Pacific. That triggered the request by Samoa for the 6th meeting of ACP Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture to be held in the Pacific. It was so we could learn more from the shared experiences and best practices, to effectively manage our fisheries resources, that contribute significantly to food and nutrition security, livelihoods and socioeconomic development.  Your support for Samoa to host the 6th meeting is highly appreciated.

Let me thank the ACP Secretariat for the preparations for this meeting and in particular, the documentation that will inform the discussions for us all today and tomorrow. I wish to also acknowledge our selected speakers that will share their expertise and experience during your meeting.

Sustainability has become the most spoken word in the 21st century, with the adoption by the United Nations in 2015 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals; the 14th of which is Life Below Water. In response, Samoa submitted 12 Voluntary Commitments to the United Nations,  four of which directly relate to Fisheries and include:

  1. Enhancing the management of our fisheries through improved scientific information and knowledge;
  2. Effective implementation of Monitoring, Control, Surveillance and Enforcement programmes for our fishery waters and ports;
  3. Ensuring our small EEZ is free from destructive fishing through prohibition and regulation of fishing methods and gears; and
  4. Our Community-Based Fisheries Management Programme.

The close partnerships with our regional organizations such as the Pacific Community, promote the importance of science and research analysis for better-informed decision making for fisheries resources management. Any management arrangement must be supported by monitoring, control and surveillance programmes, or MCS.  Samoa is emerging to be one of the unloading and transshipment hubs for foreign fishing vessels operating in the Pacific region, and we are stringent in scrutinizing and inspecting all catches and applying internationally accepted standards.

I sincerely believe that our collective small voluntary commitments under SDG 14 can go a long way in ensuring the long-term sustainability of our limited and fragile fisheries resources that is so critical for our wellbeing. Samoa has also implemented a number of MCS tools that suit the context in which fisheries activities are carried out in our region. This has led to strengthening our relationship with coastal states in our Pacific region, in the sharing of fisheries information for surveillance and enforcement purposes, and our distance water fishing nation partners for the effective exercise of their flag state duties.

We have done this in such a manner so we can isolate each letter from the IUU acronym, which is not news to all of you here, and which you have dealt with severally. Combating IUU fishing activities is made possible through our solidarity and determined cooperation.

For some of us in the Pacific region, the revenue generated from the exports of our tuna resources contribute significantly to our economies. For us in Samoa, despite the fact that we have the smallest EEZ in the Pacific region, our tuna exports generate about 5-fold the combined revenue generated by our agricultural and related exports annually.  Our fishing industry is also one of the major contributors to income generation and employment creation for our people in our rural communities.

Our aquaculture development programs mainly focus on the restocking of depleted resources and the promotion of alternative food systems such as the tilapia farming which is on the rise. Some of these aquaculture development programs are also being implemented as adaptation mechanisms in the face of climate change and changing environment.

Climate change is considered the single greatest threat to the Pacific, its resources and peoples. There is no doubt to us all that its negative impacts are the most serious challenges we all face, especially its undesirous effects on our already limited and fragile fisheries resources. Our Pacific leaders at the recent Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in Tuvalu reaffirmed their commitment to work collaboratively to harness, secure, protect and sustainably manage, use and conserve, the living resources of the Blue Pacific such as coastal and oceanic fisheries, as part of the proposed 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

As custodians of the world’s largest ocean and carbon sink, the Pacific has called for immediate action, to support clean, healthy and productive oceans, the sustainable management, use and conservation of our marine resources, growth in the blue economy, and address the impacts of climate change on ocean health.  They are also taking action to protect our limited and fragile fisheries resources, and to conserve and restore our marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

I see that your meeting agenda is focused on critical issues that impact on all the subregions including climate change and fisheries, IUU fishing, small scale fisheries for food security and livelihoods, reducing post-harvest losses, enhancing value addition and market access, to name a few. We are happy to see four Pacific speakers providing the platform for contextualization.

I wish you all the best in your deliberations and find some space to enjoy our Beautiful Samoa, and help our economy by contributing what you can to our GDP.

It is now my pleasure to declare the Senior Officials Meeting of the 6th ACP Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture Meeting, officially open.

Fa’afetai.