Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Esa Mona Ainuu attended the 20th Annual Forum Fisheries Commission Ministerial and the 4th Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting held in Marshall Islands last week.
One of the highlighted achievements from the meeting was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the South Pacific Group focused on working together to manage and maximise sustainable fisheries.
The South Pacific Group (SPG) consists of six countries outside the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). These countries include Niue, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu.
BCN News spoke with Minister Ainuu this morning who shared that the MOU was established to strengthen the decisions of the SPG.
“It’s not a competing group with the PNA but it’s a group outside of the PNA to strengthen our decision going into any discussion, any management strategies, any strategies that we can help our fisheries or our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) to find ways that countries outside of PNA can achieve some beneficial gain from any negotiations.”
“SPG was established to make sure that we have a louder voice and that we have collaboration between those outside of the PNA which is really important because PNA is a force to be reckoned with and a lot of fisheries activities fall within those EEZ’s.”
Minister Ainuu says that she was very pleased with the signing of the MOU.
“Although not legally binding, it is an understanding between countries as to where we need to be and how we can strategize going in discussions.”
Cook Islands News also reported the SPG’s statement, “SPG’s immediate area of interest is the management of the southern longline fishery, with a particular focus on South Pacific albacore tuna.”
“SPG members signed the MOU on the sidelines of the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting, which took place in Majuro, Marshall Islands from July 3 to 6,” reported Cook Islands News.
Minister Ainuu says that it’s important that we continue the dialogue of better and sustainable fisheries.
“There’s a lot of development, a lot of work focused on the long line fisheries, south pacific albacore, tuna management…there’s a wide range of areas that we need to make sure of what we protect, and finding strategies to build on what we have within the fisheries sector.”