Australia commits new long-term support to FFA

Director General of the FFA, James Movick. Picture: RNZ

RAROTONGA, (FFA) – The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is delighted to acknowledge the new long-term Partnership and related funding agreements agreed between the agency and Australia.

The Director General of the FFA, James Movick and Australia’s Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston today signed a new 10-year Partnership Agreement at the annual Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) meeting in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Signing the new Partnership Agreement Director General Movick noted that Australia was both an active member and a strong participant and financial supporter across a wide range of key agency activities.

“Our relationship with Australia is enduring and broad-based – Australia, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, provides in excess of AUD$5 million in annual financial support and the great majority of this permits us to make budgetary allocations in a very flexible way towards our highest priorities” stated Movick.

“Separate fnding is also dedicated to advancing implementation of the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement which promotes interoperability, information exchange and collective regional actions against illegal fishing.”

DG Movick said the Australian Partnership assistance is separate from the substantial funding for regional fisheries surveillance activities, including the new civilian air surveillance programme under the Australian-funded Pacific Maritime Security Programme.

“That Australian Defence funding of around AUD$15 million annually will enable FFA to deploy an additional 1400 hours of aerial surveillance through two dedicated King Air aircraft across the FFA region. This will not only be a major boost to our efforts to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, but it will enhance the overall security of our region through greater Maritime Domain Awareness.”

Movick further noted that through the priorities identified within the FFA Annual Work Programme, Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources participated actively in FFA’s regional fisheries management processes and is a recognised leader in promoting the Harvest Strategy approach towards the sustainable management of vital offshore tuna stocks.

The new 10 year Partnership agreement reflects this broad-based engagement.

Australia support for the agency reflects also the endorsement by Pacific Islands Leaders in 2015 of the Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries. The Roadmap identifies that the FFA member-country Pacific tuna fisheries are valued at around USD$2.6 billion, earning close to USD$500 million in access fees for Pacific island countries and providing 25,000 jobs. Sustainable fisheries offer one of the best opportunities to promote trade, strengthen government revenue and promote future food security within the region.

In his remarks Movick also thanked Australia for its Chairmanship of the Forum Fisheries Committee over the past 12 months, with the baton now passed on to the Cook Islands.

“Australia’s principled and enthusiastic chairmanship of the FFC again demonstrates the strong and unique sense of regionalism and collaboration that typifies our work within the fisheries sector. I thank Australia sincerely for its broad-based and enduring support, said Movick.

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