Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk
A new look Regional Fisheries Ministers (RFMM) group met for the first time virtually last week to discuss the state of the Pacific Ocean and voiced their concerns over the state of coastal fisheries, climate change and marine pollution.
Their decisions reflected regional priorities for the fisheries and marine sector.
The ministers and senior officials were led by Cooks Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and ministers representing Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Niue, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
Senior officials from French Polynesia, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu were also in attendance at the Noumea-hosted web forum.
Their talks reflected with concern on the results that have signalled a decline in the status of key indicator invertebrate and finfish species, and reef and ecosystem health, which have direct impacts on livelihoods and food security.
They called for the strengthening of coastal fisheries management.
Puna addressed the meeting, saying: “One undeniable and tangible resource, asset, and lifeline that we all possess is our shared fisheries resources”.
He called for initiatives to diversify the use of fisheries and marine resources, using innovative and collaborative approaches.
Statement of outcomes
While highlighting the Pacific’s strong response to the national and regional security threats the covid-19 pandemic has posed, he stressed the importance of enhancing fisheries management, maintaining food and economic security.
“Our collective response must always reflect how much we value our people, and the mana, resilience and Pacific community spirit that underpins the very fibre of our nations,” he said.
The meeting, chaired by the FSM’s Secretary for the Department of Resource and Development, Marion Henry, was hosted online, gathering Fisheries Ministers and officials from the Pacific Island Forum countries and territories as well as regional organisations
The talks covered regional coastal fisheries and aquaculture priorities and the impact of covid-19 on these fisheries, the 2020 Coastal Fisheries Report Card, and options for enhancing discussions on community-based management of coastal fisheries.
Ministers also endorsed the Regional Framework on Aquatic Biosecurity.