The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is celebrating its 40th year of existence this year. Based out of Honiara in the Solomon Islands – here are five things you should know about their work.
It’s 40 Years Old
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is an intergovernmental agency established in 1979 to facilitate regional co-operation and co-ordination on fisheries policies between its member states. Known as FFA – it was established to help countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).
It’s lead by a woman
The Director General of FFA is Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen. She worked in fisheries policy in the Pacific for nearly 20 years – including 13 years as the FFA Legal Counsel. Dr Tupou-Roosen has a Masters of Law with a focus on International Fisheries and a PhD in Law received in 2004 under a Commonwealth Scholarship, with a focus on International and Regional Fisheries Compliance.
They protect our fish stocks
FFA was instrumental in asserting Pacific rights to tuna stocks and resources within our EEZ – through the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention in the early 1980s. They continue to act in the best interest of the Pacific through efforts such as the Harmonised Minimum Terms and Conditions for access by foreign fishing vessels into Pacific waters. FFA also negotiated a treaty with the United States to recognise those access rights – which continues to date.
It is also known that FFA’s negotiation of the Niue Treaty in the early 1990s provided a basis for Pacific countries to collaborate more closely in tackling illegal fishing.
They have wings
FFA has an Aerial Surveillance Program funded by Australia under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, PMSP. FFA has two King Air200 aircrafts, fitted with high tech sensor, avionics and communications technologies capable of detecting fishing vessels over a broad range of ocean.
Around 30% of the world’s tuna supply is from FFA Members’ waters. Significantly, this is the only region where the major tuna stocks are biologically healthy; in all other regions, some stocks are either over-fished or overfishing is occurring.
The two planes enable FFA to have “Pacific eyes in the sky” to monitor on fisheries activity across the EEZ of Pacific member states.
They create jobs
FFA assists in managing a multi million dollar resource base for the Pacific and in the process creates jobs.
Over USD 500 million of revenue is raised annually through fishing licensing and access fees that helps build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure, supporting Pacific communities. FFA indicates that they are responsible for direct employment in the Pacific tuna fishing industry which has grown to around 22,500 jobs and rising.
FFA is based in Honiara in the Solomon Islands. FFA has 17 member states – and has provided technical assistance to Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.