11th Heads of Fisheries Meeting
Cameron Diver, Deputy Director-General of the Pacific Community (SPC)
Noumea, New Caledonia, 11 March 2019
Kia ora tātau.
E ngā mana,
E ngā reo,
E rau Rangatira mā,
Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa.
Tihei mauri ora!
Tuatahi tēnei te mihi ki a koutou katoa, kua tae mai nei i tēnei rā, mo koutou katoa.
Te take kua hui hui mai tātou katoa,
Kei te mihi, kei te mihi, kei te mihi.
No reira, nau mai haere mai ki te whare o Pacific Hapori.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Welcome and greetings to you all. It is a pleasure to have you here with us at Pacific Community headquarters for this 11th Heads of Fisheries Meeting.
Heads of Fisheries (HOF) is an important meeting for SPC. It currently occurs every two years to provide strategic direction to our Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division on its work programme of scientific and technical support in fisheries and aquaculture in the region.
HOF is unique in that it is currently the only regional fisheries meeting in which all of our Pacific Community Member countries and territories are able to participate. As such, I think we can all be proud to have facilitated and be part of a meeting that contributes directly to inclusive regionalism and collective understanding and action. It is also unique in its broad scope, considering issues related to both oceanic fisheries, and coastal fisheries and aquaculture.
This year’s HOF is particularly important in view of the decision of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders to convene an annual meeting of Forum Fisheries Ministers, to be held alongside the FFC Ministerial Meeting, to consider issues at a high political level across the breadth of oceanic and coastal fisheries. Strong and engaged governance is critical to the wise and sustainable use and management of our ocean’s rich resources, so one of the important outputs of this year’s meeting will be your recommendations on options for constituting and managing this new meeting of Fisheries Ministers, and how you see HOF supporting this process in the future.
We will also be asking you for guidance on the continuing and future priorities of FAME and how the Division can best assist you, our key stakeholders, in achieving your objectives for fisheries in the Pacific Islands region. You may also be aware that SPC has identified fisheries science as a potential area of excellence, a field that we will seek to build into an internationally recognised community of scientific knowledge and practice. Your feedback and direction is very important for SPC, and we looking forward to hearing your views throughout the week.
As well as the Heads of Fisheries seated around the table, I note that, as usual, there are representatives of CROP agencies, development partners and other interested fisheries agencies present this week. Much of what we do could not be done without the support and partnerships you provide; so welcome and thank you. I look forward to catching up with all of you over the coming days.
Before closing, I would like to dwell briefly on two agenda items, which I consider of the utmost importance. Tomorrow’s sessions on the impact of climate change on fisheries and gender and social inclusion.
Our leaders have identified climate change as the single greatest existential threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific. Mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change will be critical to protecting and preserving our ocean, its ecosystems and biodiversity and a cornerstone of fulfilling the promise of the Blue Pacific narrative: our collective ability to harness our shared ocean identity, geography and resources to drive positive socio-cultural, political and economic development.
As part of this positive development, we must also ensure gender equity and social inclusion. There is no truly sustainable development when a large part of the population is excluded or disempowered and we must do all we can to ensure greater opportunities and equity for women and girls. So as you examine the impact of climate change on tuna, on coastal fisheries and discuss how to adapt to an evolving environment, as you discuss issues of gender and social inclusion, I would encourage you to be ambitious and ensure that your recommendations and actions contribute to strong, inclusive and sustainable outcomes for our Blue Pacific region.
I wish you all the best for this week’s work and an enjoyable stay here in Noumea.