New PNA Office CEO Dr. Sangaa Clark, her husband Les Clark and MIMRA Director Glen Joseph made a courtesy call on President David Kabua and his Cabinet members earlier in the month.
The RMI is playing two roles in relation to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, said Joseph: As a member of the PNA and as host to the PNAO.
Dr. Clark is from Kiribati, and has been living with the family in Christchurch, New Zealand for over 10 years. The Clarks arrived in Majuro in October, successfully undergoing all the border and Covid travel requirements.
She assumes the role of PNAO CEO from outgoing CEO Ludwig Kumoru of Papua New Guinea. She has spent the first couple of months with transition and orientation of the PNAO functions, staff and with members of the PNA plus Tokelau. More recently, she led the PNAO plus Tokelau advising on key issues and positions for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual session, which concluded on December 6.
The President and Cabinet welcomed the CEO to Majuro, acknowledging the benefits to which the RMI and the other members are receiving through national revenues with the implementation of the vessel day scheme (VDS). The RMI is looking forward to other innovative work that could add value to our collective PNA+ fishery, said the President. The President also assured the CEO of RMI support as the host country.
The CEO remarked that she is very happy to be back in Majuro, and very humbled to be the CEO for the office on behalf of the PNA+, and thanked the RMI and other members in supporting her.
She stressed the importance of working together as a block to implement management measures that fit the needs of the PNA+, and the need ensure the benefit flows through the members and also the Forum Fisheries Agency members. While the VDS is the norm now, it did not come without its challenges and resistance by major distant water fishing countries, she said. The PNA+ stuck it out and have showed the rest in the Pacific, and indeed the global community, that despite the criticisms and cynics, it can be done. That cohesive approach, backed by sovereignty and sovereign rights, has always been the strength for the PNA+ as a collective front to advocate for their common resources — tuna. Clark made the point that tuna is “our resource, our fish and that it is in our best interest to manage it sustainably while maximizing benefits.”
The future of PNA+ is filled with opportunities and she thanked the President, the Cabinet and the government and people of the Marshall islands as host nation for the warm welcome, hospitality and the outstanding support to the PNA+ members and the rest of the PNAO staff. She said she is proud to be part of what RMI continues to do for the PNA+ and the region.
The day after the courtesy call, Natural Resources and Commerce Minister John Silk hailed the PNA Office was as “a shining example of sub-regionalism and a center of excellence for the region and throughout the global tuna fishing community.”
He was speaking on behalf of President Kabua and the national government at a holiday dinner function hosted by the PNA Office at its new headquarters earlier this month.
Silk said the PNA “will continue to deliver benefits to our respective governments and people and will continue to develop first class conservation measures” for tuna management.
The PNA headquarters building is a demonstration of “the paradigm shift that we, PNA+, changed in the region and the world,” said Silk using “PNA+” to refer to the eight member nations of PNA plus Tokelau. Silk described the shift in control of the fishery from distant water fishing nations to the PNA+ is an incredible and inspiring feat. “It literally puts the PNA and the RMI on the global map for the tuna fishery,” he said.