Future of Pacific Fisheries tops busy agenda

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FFA HQ, Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS. – The Pacific’s annual meeting of Fisheries Ministers heads to the region’s smallest island community this weekend, becoming part of a historic moment for Tokelau.

Traditional leaders and the close-knit community of Atafu, where ministers and officials are set to make landing this Sunday are going to be welcoming the territory’s first-ever regional gathering of Pacific ministers.

Staff of the Apia-based Government office for Tokelau, led by General Manager Jovilisi Suveinakama and Tokelau-based Mikaele Perez, Director for Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment have spent months in preparation sorting host-country logistics for the nine Fisheries Ministers and all the 17 FFA member country delegations attending.
Perez says the island community of Atafu is “abuzz” with the countdown to the arrival of almost 70 FFC10 ministerial meeting delegates and observers.
“We have another four days of preparations and everything should be under control for the weekend arrival. Each minister and respective delegations will be lodged in private homes, so not only we are opening up our hearts in terms of receiving the FFA ministers, delegates and Observers onto Atafu, but we are also happy to open our homes for their accommodation,” he says.
Referring to the rotating schedule amongst FFA members for the chance to host the Ministerial, Perez says the event “will not return to Tokelau for another 17 years, so we want it to be memorable for the ministers and an opportunity to highlight some of the Fisheries, environment and development challenges we face as a small island nation.”
Delegations fly into Apia, Samoa this week in advance of their departure by boat for the islands of Tokelau this Saturday.  A one-day officials meeting will precede the high-level event set for 1 and 2 July.
Ministers will receive the annual report of the FFA Director General, James Movick, before heading into an agenda covering Pacific tuna stocks, economic trends and management approaches. Emerging and current trends facing Pacific fisheries will come under discussion, along with specific issues including the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement, fisheries within the EPA negotiations, IUU challenges and progress, and the WCPFC.
FFA Director-General Movick commended the high ministerial interest in attending the Tokelau meeting saying the unique character of the 2014 event will drive home to participants the realities and resource challenges facing the agencies smallest member nation.
“The pressure on host nation resources in this region increases when it comes to any ministerial-level event. Added to that, Tokelau is the only member of the FFA without access by air,” he says. “The smaller your population, the larger those Pacific challenges around size, geographic isolation, and resources become and I think the high-level regional turnout for this meeting should tell Tokelau how well it has done in rising to the task of hosting this event. We hope that regional solidarity will take hold in the agenda outcomes at this important time for Pacific fisheries.”  
Following on from the plenary sessions and presentations next week, Ministers will go into retreat mode, and their closing session on July 2 will deliver an Outcomes report for Pacific heads of government when the annual meeting of Forum Leaders convenes later this month in Palau.-ENDS

More details on: http://www.ffa.int/node/835