Dr. Josie Tamate, first from Polynesia to chair the Western and Central Pacific Fishing Commission

Dr. Josie Tamate (right) with Minister Mona Ainuu as the new Chair of the WCPFC at its meeting in Vietnam last week

Dr. Josie Tamate is the first Polynesian to chair the Western and Central Pacific Fishing Commission (WCPFC) since its establishment in 2004.  

Dr. Josie Tamate, the Niue government’s Director General of the Ministry of Natural Resources was unanimously elected unopposed at the last meeting of the Commission held in Vietnam last week.

Niue’s delegation at the meeting of the Commission was led by the Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Esa Mona Ainuu included Dr. Josie Tamate, Director of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Poi Okesene, and Principal Fisheries Officer Launoa Gataua.

Waiting in Auckland for Premier Dalton Tagelagi to fly to Montreal, Canada for another high-level Biodiversity convention meeting, Dr. Tamate was able to speak to BCN News via zoom about her new role.

“I am humbled and privileged to be elected into this role. It comes with a lot of responsibilities and expectations. Like they say, you gotta keep challenging yourself to see the best that you can do.

It’s a great opportunity but I’m honoured to be given the responsibility, the opportunity to take on the role of the chair.

Dr. Josie Tamate is no stranger to the work of the Commission and has served as its immediate past deputy chair which places her in a good position to continue to ensure the protection of the fishery resources in the Western Central Pacific.

“The tuna fisheries in the western central Pacific, are a major resource and we have to make sure we maintain the position of having the healthiest tuna fisheries in the global oceans at the moment. So that responsibility is quite daunting but I’m confident that we have the right people to help me carry out the tasks before me” said Dr. Tamate of her new role.

Dr. Josie Tamate in red with the Niue delegation

She told BCN News how humbled she is to be recognised by the members of the Commission and their confidence in her to chair the commission, nominating her unopposed to the role.

The Western Central Pacific Fishing Commission is made up of 33 members including countries like USA, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and other Asian countries as well as the 17 members of the Forum Fisheries Agency including Australia and New Zealand, Tokelau, American Samoa and the French Pacific territories. 

For those who are not familiar with the work of the Commission, it is tasked with the responsibility to monitor and control the high seas, which is the vast ocean space that does not come under any particular country’s legal jurisdiction.

While all countries in the Pacific have control of their own respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) the Western Central Pacific Fishing Commission was established to ensure that resources like tuna fisheries are monitored and controlled through conservation mechanisms.

Dr. Josie Tamate is optimistic about this new role that she will carry on from the previous chairpersons to lead the organisation that is tasked to protect and manage the fisheries resources that all Pacific nations depend upon as a source of food security and economic benefits.

The Commission was established by the Convention for the conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western Central Pacific Ocean in June 2004.

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