A polynesian fisheries co-operative has been formalised, strengthening the voice of the Southern Pacific members within the Forum Fisheries Agency.

The Te Vaka Moana Arrangement means a closer co-operation between the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga fisheries industries.

The Cook Islands is chairing the group and it's representative, Peter Graham, says the group members currently share EEZ boundaries and the arrangement will strengthen the work already being done.

"It just adds more to it, we then have more information that we can work with and we can be better informed, well it's really just building on the co-operation that we already have. Building capacity where capacity either isn't there or needs to be strengthened."

Peter Graham with the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources.

A similar arrangement to Te Vaka Moana, The Parties to the Nauru Agreement, covers the waters of the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

For the past two years Polynesian countries (specifically Cook Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga) have been working closely together to identify fisheries management and development options that will result in greater long term sustainable economic benefits from their fisheries. Meetings at Ministerial and officials level have recognised and demonstrated the value of closer cooperation within the sub-region. Examples of work to date include the development of peer-to-peer networks, mentoring, assisting with strategic planning, policy development and strengthened sub-regional MCS activities, such as providing assistance to one another with illegal fishing cases.


This increased cooperation on fisheries issues culminated in the Heads of Fisheries of each fisheries administration finalising and signing Te Vaka Moana Arrangement (TVMA) in January 2010. TVMA builds on previous work and provides a foundation to design and implement initiatives to improve collaboration in a range of fisheries sectors.

These include fisheries management, science, industry cooperation, and monitoring control and surveillance (MCS). Specific projects include the development of a subsidiary arrangement under the Niue Treaty on Surveillance and Law Enforcement and the progression of a Polynesian Fisheries Development Package.  NZ officials are developing a concept note that will guide programme design on a programme of support for TVMA initiatives.


TVMA will enable Participants to achieve a set of common objectives, including:


* Strengthening cooperative relationships between the Participants, based on mutual trust and understanding, to further shared goals, such as increasing the economic benefits from fisheries resources and protecting the contribution they make to the food security of communities;


* Assisting with ongoing capacity development and enhancing sub-regional capability by sharing resources, including MCS resources;


* Promoting the sharing of information between the Participants on fisheries policy,  management,  development, and science as well as fishing industry related issues,  MCS, and other areas of technical expertise;


* Enhancing the ability of the Participants to cooperate and promote the interests of the sub-region in regional organisations and international fora dealing with fisheries issues, including in collaboration with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC);


* Promoting cooperation between the Participants  on MCS, both domestically and on the high seas, including by seeking to increase the value of fisheries through countering illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing; and


* Supporting and strengthening fisheries development initiatives, such as through links between the fishing industry sectors


The  Arrangement will provide numerous strategic benefits, especially by strengthening the Polynesian voice within FFA and WCPFC processes.


Future work is planned to include:


* Developing Polynesian fisheries management capacity including institutional strengthening and formalising cooperation between fisheries administrations.

Developing enduring management frameworks for Polynesian longline fisheries, including effective deterrence of non-compliance.


* Identifying barriers to improving economic outcomes and exploring opportunities to increase the capacity of the Polynesian private sector to catch, process and export fish (which will include opportunities to address bycatch issues).


* Promoting linkages with New Zealand's broader economic development assistance in the region, such as work on business mentoring and partnership opportunities with the New Zealand fishing industry.


* Developing strategic partnerships with neighbouring countries and territories with common interests similar to TVM Participants.