Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting French Polynesia for the first time which was also my first official visit as Director-General of the Pacific Community (SPC) to the territory.

French Polynesia is a valuable member of the Pacific Community and a net contributor to our activities. This means that they receive less than they contribute to SPC. This is appreciated by SPC as a generous contribution to the development activities in the wider Pacific region.

French Polynesia can contribute more to the region through their research institutions knowledge and experience.

For example, I was privileged to visit the Insitut Louis Malarde. Established in 1947, it has been conducting research into prevailing health issues in the territory.  Currently, they are making good progress on biological control for mosquitoes, Ciguatera (fish) poisoning, obesity and other issues.  They have much to offer the health sector in the region.

Beyond research, French Polynesia has well-established capacity and capability in many sectors, including management of tuna fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, culture and other areas.

SPC has been providing technical assistance to the fisheries and aquaculture sectors for many years. It is pleasing to note that French Polynesia now has their own capacity and SPC input is limited to highly specialised areas not available locally.  More importantly, the local Fisheries Department is supporting local providers with fish farming for consumption and the international aquarium industry.

French Polynesia is also developing technical skills to farm local fish species that can used to supplement fish populations in the local lagoon.

I was honoured to meet with President Édouard Fritch and a few of his senior Ministers to explore further collaboration between the French territory and SPC. Supporting activities to prevent violence against women and children, empowerment of women and leadership was raised as a priority for French Polynesia needing SPC assistance.

Blessed with natural beauty, French Polynesia is a unique part of our Pacific region.