The Marshall Islands this week called on Pacific nations to agree to abolish illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by 2023. President Hilda Heine made the call to action at Tuesday night’s closing program of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s Technical and Compliance Committee meeting in Majuro.
This target date is necessary because despite current efforts, IUU remains a big problem in the region, the President said. The Forum Fisheries Agency said in 2016 that IUU fishing was costing Pacific islands over $600 million in lost revenue annually. “IUU has devastating consequences,” she said. “It is organized crime that affects socio-economic growth and future generations.
“A five-year target to eliminate IUU fishing by 2023 is bold but the stakes are too high not to be audacious in the goals we set. If we are serious about combating IUU, we need a tougher mindset.”
“We are right behind her,” said soon-to-be Forum Fisheries Agency Director General Manu Tupou-Roosen after President Hilda Heine’s call for Pacific action against illegal fishing. “We will lend her our full support,” said Tupou-Roosen, who takes over as head of the Forum Fisheries Agency next month. She is currently the FFA Legal Counsel.
The former CEO of the PNA Office and now CEO of iTuna Intel and Foundation Director of Pacific Catalyst Dr. Transform Aqorau welcomed the initiative of the Marshall Islands for an illegal fishing-free Pacific region by 2023.
Aqorau said that it was appropriate that Marshall Islands should launch the initiative at the closing of the WCPFC Technical and Compliance Committee meeting because the focus of the meeting is compliance. All the major players in the fishery attend the meeting and were present when the initiative was launched so the message was clearly brought home to all of them, he said.
“The goal is noble and is to be lauded,” said Aqorau because IUU fishing undermines effective fisheries management, and has a high economic cost. Aqorau praised the Marshall Islands as a small country that “normally punches above their weight when they come to developing new initiatives and this is certainly a forthright, noble vision which should be supported by all the Pacific island countries and the international community.”
Read more about this in the October 5, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.