Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for allowing me this brief time for my delegation and I to sign, in your presence, this Memorandum of Understanding concerning the Regional Aerial Surveillance Program.
Fisheries resources are central to the economic development and food security of our countries, so every effort must be made to strengthen mechanisms to protect our fisheries resources.
In this regard, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders agreed at our meeting in Nauru last September to support the FFA Regional Aerial Surveillance Program and the development of MOUs with the FFA on its implementation.
I wish to acknowledge the generous support of the Government of Australia to strengthen the surveillance capabilities of participating Members through the Pacific Maritime Security Program. This will enable the FFA to assist our Pacific Island Countries in further addressing maritime surveillance needs and enforcement operations. The surveillance program, in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, will provide targeted maritime patrolling and enhance the ability of our Pacific Island countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as illegal fishing and transnational crime.
I am therefore pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding with the Director General of the Forum Fisheries Agency, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen. Samoa and Vanuatu will be used as bases of operation for the surveillance aircrafts to support the facilitation of the Regional Aerial Surveillance Program, and we look forward to working with you all in ensuring the success of this work.