UOW’s role in helping island nations plan for sustainable fishery futures

UOW’s role in helping island nations plan for sustainable fishery futures

Twelve fisheries officials from The Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Solomon islands (pictured) have been participating in a three-week Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade funded Australia Awards Fellowship at UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS).

This sustainable fisheries management fellowship was designed to provide mid-level officers from Pacific islands fisheries administrations with the capacity to understand, develop and implement sustainable fisheries practices. In addition the fellowship aims to address the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, consistent with national obligations under international law and regional agreements.

The fellowship has been developed by ANCORS in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in order to ensure that the training provided is directly relevant to key issues in the region. Training emphasises national and international aspects of fisheries management in the Pacific.

The training comprised of:

  • Law of the sea and regional and international governance frameworks
  • Fisheries management and conservation and
  • Fisheries regulation and enforcement

The fellowship also includes a one-day visit to the Sydney Fish Market, Commonwealth Fisheries and Environment agencies in Canberra where liaison officers from Australian Government organisations met the Fellows, giving them the opportunity to observe, liaise, network and learn first-hand about the Australian approach to fisheries management.

They also visited the NSW Marine Park Authority at Jervis Bay and NSW Department of Fisheries at Nowra where they learnt about fisheries and protected area management at the state government level.

Professor Alistair McIlgorm from ANCORS said the overall program was appreciated by the participants, especially the opportunity for group work on current fishery management issues in the Pacific. Mr Tevita Topou of the Forum Fisheries Agency indicated the training would assist him in his advisor role to the organisation’s executive.

Two female fishery management staff from the Cook Islands, Anika and Letisha, used a group work exercise to envisage new consultative co-management arrangements that could be considered in future policies. The participants from Fiji, Tonga and Solomon islands examined developing more strategic approaches to monitoring, control and surveillance strategic plans in order to address Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing.

The participants from Niue, Tonga and Fiji examined a recent report on new developments in the Pacific tuna industry and how the islands can benefit from providing services to foreign fishing and in domestic fishery development. The participants  also work-shopped investment appraisal of fishing enterprise proposals with guest lecturer Mr Justin Ilikani from the Forum Fisheries Agency’s investment area.

A major point of instruction, discussion and group work has been the effectiveness of the current Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) arrangements in securing the long-term sustainability of the region’s tuna fisheries and the need to envisage an alternative quantity based system for the region.

Professor McIlgorm said participants were able to identify the key issues for the islands and had instruction on the principles of fishery negotiation that will assist the staff in these island nations as they plan their sustainable fishery futures.