Sustainable development of our fisheries is critical for Pacific economic development and growth

Forum Leaders recognise the importance of fisheries and aquaculture to the region for food security, recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable development, economic resilience, protecting the cultural heritage of the region, and adapting to the impacts of sea-level rise and climate change in the region.

On this page

    In August, the 19th Annual Session of the Forum Fisheries Committee Ministers Meeting was convened, where Minister’s expressed their strong desire to increase the level of economic benefits generated to Members from the region’s tuna fishery through greater involvement in all levels of the value chain. To achieve this, the Secretariat supported a review of the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries in 2022, to ensure the frameworks that underpin the work of the fisheries sector is sound and appropriate targets and indicators are set for the offshore fishery. This included bilateral consultations and engagement with CROP partners, including the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Pacific Community, and the Parties of the Nauru Agreement.

    Following the independent review of the PIF Leaders decision to increase economic returns from fisheries which was concluded in 2021, an inter-agency working group (IAWG) chaired by PIFS with FFA, SPC and PNAO also presented a complementary report with recommendations on the independent reviews final report. Following Ministerial discussions, a cover paper was prepared to accompany the final report for PIF Leaders which was presented at their in-person meeting in 2022.

    “Given the considerable socio-economic importance of the fisheries sector to the Blue Pacific region, fisheries subsidies has been a longstanding priority for the Pacific in the WTO negotiations ever since negotiations were launched in Doha in 2001. The Pacific Group, with the ACP, played an influential role in the adoption of the Ministerial decisions on fisheries subsidies at MC12 in June 2022”.

    Mere Falemaka, PIF Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 
    at the WTO High Level Pacific Regional Event on Fisheries Subsidies, 16 November 2022

    East New Britain Initiative (ENBi)

    Tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) are vital to the economies and livelihoods of the Pacific people. The WCPO contributes over 50% of tuna raw materials to the global tuna market, worth over US$5  billion in catch value.

    Maximising the economic potential of our Tuna

    As a collective the Pacific has yet to realise the full economic potential of our tuna resources. This is despite long-held aspirations to develop fisheries resources by participating directly in fishing, processing, and related business activities.

    There have been attempts by individual countries to participate further up the value chain, this includes Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands and Fiji. In PNG there are currently six onshore processing plants, creating over 13,000 direct job opportunities, exports of processed tuna and other spin-off business activities.

    To reach secondary and tertiary stages of production and participation in the entire tuna value chain, Pacific Island Countries must overcome inherent geographical and logical challenges, coupled with the lack of economies of scale, critical mass, high cost of utilities, structural constraints, and high capital costs.

    To overcome these challenges, the region needs to embrace regional economic integration, innovative investments ideas, and sustainable livelihood approaches. These measures are essential for the region to take greater control of our tuna resources and reap the benefits.

    The East New Britain Initiative (ENBi)

    Capitalizing on the region's cooperative strengths is necessary to achieve our development goals. While other investment opportunities exist, the concept of developing regional hubs and spokes to support fisheries development and growth within the Pacific Islands has been discussed at many regional conferences. The ENBi attempts to consolidate these efforts and take a proactive approach to develop regional hubs and spokes.

    To address the high capital costs and the potential loss of revenue from the impact of climate change, the ENBi also proposes to establish a regional development fund. The fund potentially will act as a regional bank that provides financial support services needed to build and operate fisheries related infrastructure including sustainability and management related programs.

    The ENBi is well aligned with the 2015 Forum Leaders Decision to “increase economic returns from fisheries resources’, by harnessing the collective strength of smaller Pacific Island Countries. The initiative was also endorsed at the 2023 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting and incorporated as regional collective action under the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan.

    The ENBi is supported by a Technical Working Group led by PNG and supported by the Forum Fisheries Agencies and the Forum Secretariat.