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(Barbara Hanchard)

Kia Orana & Talofa

Pacific islands Representatives, Organizers of the Technical Consultation of South Pacific Small Island Development States on Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Representatives from other regional organizations.

Please let me first thank FAO, SPREP and the Government of Samoa for the warm hospitality, and secondly for the opportunity to present the activities of FFA in the context of such a heavy agenda.

The functions of FFA currently include: accumulating detailed and up-to-date information on aspects of living marine resources in the Region, particularly offshore fisheries; evaluating and analyzing data to provide clear, timely, concise, complete and accurate advice to member countries; developing and maintaining communications network for the dissemination of information to member countries; and implementing policies and programmes which have been approved by Forum Fisheries Committee.

The practical application of the concept of sustainable development in the Region, will undoubtedly vary in relation to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors. However, the central theme of regional sustainable development will most certainly allow for discussion on general principals across the sectors. These general principals of sustainable development will contain processes that each of us are able to relate to in the areas of our own sector interest.

It is enlightening to note that FAO acknowledges in its documentation, and I quote "that a number of projects are already implemented both by FAO and other development partners, and more importantly that, there is a need to review on-going efforts, with a view to identifying gaps and areas of complementarity, and defining areas for future FAO involvement which avoid overlap and duplication of initiatives and which can effectively contribute to sustainable development...".

In the regional context of growing limitations on both financial and other resources, it is encouraging to see FAO's intentions are consistent with South Pacific Forum driven vehicles that promote regional cooperation. These, as most of you will be aware, include the formation of the South Pacific Organizations Coordinating Committee, commonly known as SPOCC. This was formed to promote dialogue that would ensure that all organizations involved would avoid duplication and at the same time provide mutual support in an increasingly complex regional environment. Most of that family of regional organizations are represented here today.

Although it has not yet been fully endorsed, a SPOCC initiated review of regional institutional arrangements of the marine sector contains recommendations that, when implemented, will lead member regional organizations away from duplication of work programmes and towards greater regional cooperation. In anticipation of the endorsement of this regional review and in context with the growing competitiveness for donor funds, FFA member countries have elected to remove coastal fisheries issues from the Agency work programme, in deference to inshore fisheries programmes conducted by the South Pacific Commission. This constitutes a concrete demonstration of the will to combat the duplication of work at the regional level.

Perhaps the concept that best embodies regional cooperation is the Forum driven "Regional Strategy". However, there are others here that are more qualified to explain this process than I, and I will therefore simply refer you to a copy of the Regional Strategy contained in your meeting papers.

I also invite you to read the two documents that have been prepared to provide background information on the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency and a summary of current and on-going issues in the management of offshore fisheries for FFA member countries.

I thank you for your attention and wish you all successful deliberations for this Consultation.


Background information

The South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was established in 1979 under a Convention signed by 12 Forum member countries. The Convention reflects the common concern of member regional nations on matters of conservation, optimum utilization and coastal states sovereign rights over the Region's living marine resources.

The FFA has its headquarters in Honiara, Solomon Islands. The governing body of the Agency is the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) which meets annually to approve the budget and work programme, the 29th annual meeting of which is to be held in Vava'u Tonga next week.

Membership of the FFA has, since establishment, increased to 16 - Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa.

Until 1989 the FFA's work programme was based on a Regional Research and Development programme. That programme was developed through a consultative process which determined the immediate and longer term needs of all member countries, and then prioritized and consolidated those needs in a rational series of inter-related programmes.
The functions of FFA now include accumulating detailed and up-to-date information on aspects of living marine resources in the Region, particularly offshore fisheries; evaluating and analyzing data to provide clear, timely, concise, complete and accurate advice to member countries; developing and maintaining a communications network for the dissemination of information to member countries; and implementing policies and programmes which have been approved by Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC). The functions and objectives of FFA are reviewed periodically.

Corporate plan

At the 10th Anniversary Conference on Management and Development Strategies in South Pacific Fisheries in September 1989, the FFC reviewed the work of FFA during its first decade and adopted a Corporate Plan for the decade 1990-1999. The Statement of Purpose, as outlined in the Corporate Plan, includes: securing and promoting the conservation, management, and optimum utilization of living resources, including highly migratory species of tuna, within the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of member countries and in the high seas of the Region; promoting the cooperation between FFA member countries and the Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) operating within the EEZs of member countries and the high seas of the Region: promoting intra-regional coordination among member countries; facilitating the collection, analysis, evaluation and dissemination of scientific, technological and economic information about living marine resources of the Region; advising member countries on scientific, technical, commercial, legal, and academic aspects of marine resources. The Corporate Plan was reviewed for the period 1993-1995 and is expected to be revised to reflect the mandates set by FFC.

Work programmes

FFA and its member countries have made significant progress in the implementation of the work programme, including access negotiations, monitoring, control and surveillance, legal services, national capacity-building of fisheries authorities, professional development, computer development and inter-regional cooperation.

Given that one of the main aims of establishing the Agency was to generate the maximum financial benefits from the harvesting of fisheries resource, it is understandable that the assistance to member countries in their access negotiations with DWFNs was identified as one of the primary tasks of the Agency. Having declared sovereignty and jurisdiction over living and non-living resources within their respective 200-mile EEZs, the island countries initially were in a weak negotiating position because they did not have access to information, which the distant-water fishing nations had, on the economic value of their fisheries. They were therefore poorly placed to extract a fair financial return for fish harvested in their EEZs. FFA provided the impetus and the opportunity for member countries to pool information on their negotiations with distant-water fishing nations. It became clear that distant-water fishing nations were presenting different information on the same fishery to various member countries, and were trying to play one island off against the other. The close regional cooperation in the adoption of harmonized regional fisheries policies, coupled with direct advisory assistance provided by FFA Secretariat to member countries in their bilateral access negotiations with DWFNs, has considerably strengthened their negotiation postures over the years.

Standardization of minimum terms and conditions of fisheries access throughout the Region was another significant outcome of regional cooperation and solidarity. The minimum terms and conditions of fisheries access that member countries agreed to adopt in licensing distant-water fishing nations fleets were endorsed by the South Pacific Forum in 1982. They cover the Regional Register of Fishing Vessels and licensing conditions such as licensing procedures, rights of authorized law enforcement officers, requirements for reporting catch and maintaining logbooks, reporting requirements and procedures for entering and exiting zones and for identifying vessels.

The minimum terms and conditions, such as prohibition against at-sea trans-shipment but only at designated ports of member countries, provision of high seas catch data as part of a fishing trip report, etc. which have been adopted by all FFA member countries, obligate them to negotiate consistently with DWFNs. The minimum terms and conditions were reviewed and expanded upon in 1990 and were implemented in revised form in January 1991 and continue to form the basis for access negotiations to this day.

Perhaps the Region's greatest achievement in fisheries access negotiations was the successful conclusion of the Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries between the United States and all 16 FFA member countries. This Treaty is highly complex and is regarded as a unique fisheries access agreement in its scope and application. Negotiations on the Treaty took two years and was conducted at the direction of the Forum and was signed on 2 April 1987 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, the depository government. The Treaty entered into force on 15 June 1988 for an initial term of five years. Upon payment of an annual fishing fee of US$ 12 000 000, up to 55 of the US purse seiners could be licensed to fish in any of the zones of the FFA member states. Pursuant to an internal agreement for administration of the Treaty, the first 15 percent of the fee is divided equally amongst member states; over a million dollars is set aside as Project Development Funds for member countries, a certain amount set aside to cover administration costs of the Treaty and the greater portion remaining (approximately 84 percent) is distributed in accordance with the tonnage of fish caught in the zones of the member countries. The US Multilateral Fisheries treaty was extended in June 1993 for an additional ten-year term with an interim review for 1998 and for increased fishing annual fee of US$ 18 000 000.

Fisheries management

Another important area in which FFA is involved is the question of driftnet fishing for South Pacific albacore. The dramatic increase in the number of vessels using driftnets in this fishery raised serious conservation concerns about the South Pacific albacore stocks. Unless the fishing effort can be controlled through international cooperation, the potential for FFA member countries to develop albacore fisheries within their EEZs would be severely harmed. A series of meetings on the driftnet issue culminated in the drafting of the Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing with Long Driftnets in the South Pacific in November 1989 in Wellington. The Convention prohibits nationals and vessels of Parties to the Convention from engaging in driftnet activities in the Convention area. It also provides mechanisms for information exchange, data provision and dissemination by FFA and other appropriate regional organizations. The Convention area is described as lying within 10 degrees N and 50 degrees S latitude and 130 degrees E and 120 degrees W longitude, including all waters under the fisheries jurisdiction of any Party to the Convention.

Investigation of the impact of expanded purse seine fishing effort in the Western Pacific has also been an important focus of the FFA work programme. FFA member countries have become concerned at the significant increase in the number of purse seine vessels operating in the Region and the effect that might have on yellowfin tuna stocks. To address this concern, the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) had signed in 1993 the "Palau Arrangement for Management of the Western Pacific Purse Seine Fishery" (The Palau Agreement) which obtained the requisite number of government approvals to go into effect in October 1995. Under the provisions of this Arrangement, all DWFNs would maintain the existing number of purse seine licences available to them. However, since the signing of the Palau Arrangement, FFA member countries have adopted another policy to have licence allocations to DWFNs reduced by 10 percent in 1997 and have advised them accordingly. The primary objective of this policy is to encourage strictly foreign based purse seine vessels to relocate the base of their operations in FFA member countries as part and partial of domestic tuna industry development. In order to further promote domestic industry development the Parties to the Palau Agreement countries have developed the Federated States of Micronesia Arrangement for Regional Fisheries Access. This Arrangement, effectively an internal multilateral access arrangement, is designed to help FFA member countries develop their locally-based purse seine industry by providing favourable treatment to those purse seine fishing enterprises that are based in the FFA member countries.

Monitoring, control and surveillance

The EEZs of FFA member countries are large by international standards, and particularly so in relation to their land areas and, monitoring, control and surveillance capabilities. One of the first developments in this area was the establishment of the Regional Register of Foreign Fishing Vessels. This is an innovative and cost effective means of registering and controlling distant-water fishing nations vessels operating in the Region which ensures a high degree of compliance by foreign fishing vessels. A vessel must have good standing on the Register to be licensed to fish in the EEZs of FFA member countries. If good standing is withdrawn, the licensing ban remains with vessels even if sold or renamed.

Another significant aspect of FFA's surveillance activities is the coordination of aerial surveillance flights covering the EEZs of its countries. The New Zealand, Australian and French air forces which undertake aerial surveillance flights within the Region, as part of their programmes of cooperation with South Pacific countries, recognize FFA's coordinating role in the planning of aerial surveillance flights. The Agency supplies fisheries information to surveillance flights, which has increased their effectiveness and usefulness to the naval and fisheries surveillance vessels of member countries.

The development of a regional observer programme for the South Pacific by FFA is aimed at the collection of data as well as foreign fishing vessel compliance to conditions of fishing access. Guidelines for standard observer operating procedures are being developed in conjunction with other regional organizations such as SPC.

FFA launched a major initiative during 1995 to research, design and implement a satellite-based vessel monitoring system. This will ensure the provision of timely and accurate fishing activity information to member countries. At present, FFA and its member countries rely on the reports of fisheries observers, for a small portion of the fleet, and occasional aerial surveillance information for near-real-time fishing vessel position information.

Maritime Surveillance Communications Network is an FFA communications network initiative that aims to ensure that surveillance and fisheries administrations are able to provide and access appropriate fisheries management information. Terminals have been installed in member country fisheries or surveillance administrations which are linked to FFA as the hub site. It is anticipated that the network will integrate other information systems including the vessel monitoring system.

Legal services

A vital aspect of the Agency's activities is the provision of a wide range of legal advice and services. This involves provision of advice on terms and conditions of access arrangements, the review and drafting of fisheries legislation and advice on the incorporation of changes resulting from the Law of the Sea Convention. With the Agency's assistance, fisheries legislation is being tailored to individual members' specific needs, but at the same time care is taken to introduce broader provisions which cover possible multilateral access agreements and other future needs. Thus, the Agency is simultaneously assisting members towards full and independent legislative control of their fisheries resources, and ensuring the regional compatibility and cohesion which has proved such a source of strength in the past.

Professional development

Another aspect of national development to which FFA contributes is to the professional development of officials of member countries. It is widely acknowledged that a trained work force is critical to long-term development, and member countries have always accorded high priority to building up their national capacity through training opportunities. The Agency passes on the advice and information necessary to develop national skills so that, increasingly, member countries can undertake tasks independently instead of relying on FFA for assistance.

The Agency provides fellowship attachments for training in all aspects of its work programmes at FFA Headquarters. This is for selected staff from member countries. Regular seminars and workshops are held to provide in-depth training in specific areas.

Computer development

From its inception, FFA recognized that it could not receive and process the vast quantity of information required to monitor and control activities of foreign fishing fleets without the aid of computers. Considerable effort has therefore been expended on building up an innovative and sophisticated computer system. All facets of the Agency's work, from plotting fishing activity to preparing reports and transferring information, draw on this system. FFA's computer system makes an important contribution to the speed and efficiency with which the Agency conducts its work in maintaining cost-effective computer communications facilities. In addition, the Agency is instrumental in procuring funds for computers for its members, and in facilitating the professional development of local technology experts by conducting an extensive training programme.

Inter-regional cooperation

FFA is an internationally recognized organization and has gained a high profile through its activities, such as negotiating the Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries with the United States. The Forum recognized the importance for the South Pacific Region to keep abreast of developments in fisheries elsewhere in the world. It therefore charged FFA, in the Convention, with the responsibility of establishing working relationships with relevant regional and international organizations. Both the 1994 Brisbane Forum and Madang Forum in 1995 directed the FFA member countries to progress efforts in pursuing multilateral access arrangements with Japan, Korea and Taiwan both as a means for increasing the rate of economic returns to member countries and, by doing so, to ensure that no one country, with existing bilateral access agreements with these Asian countries, will become worse off economically.


Excluding fisheries Treaty funds of US$ 18 million received annually and which the Agency administers on behalf of its member countries, the Agency also receives approximately US$ 4.8 million. Of this amount, 12 percent is provided by contribution from member countries and this is paid into the General Fund Account which funds the running costs of the office together with the salaries of the support and management staff. The balance of 88 percent represents extra-budgetary funding from various sources for particular work programme activities.

The principal sources of extra-budgetary funding to the Agency are the Australian Assistance for International Development (AusAID), the Australian Department of Defense, the European Union, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the New Zealand Overseas Development Assistance Programme (NZODA).


The offshore fishery is one natural resource that is only partially utilized for the benefit of island communities.

FFA is at the forefront of resource management and harvest supervision and has fostered significant progress in regional cooperation in this area. The regulation of international vessels has been effective, and there has been further progress in regional cooperation in surveillance. However this has not been translated into substantial economic returns for island based operators. The harvest by island fishermen in their EEZs is extremely small compared to that of distant water fleets. In 1994, 1.2 million tonnes of tuna worth US$ 1 500 million were caught in South Pacific islands EEZs. Exports from most countries themselves would not reach 0.1 percent of this.

However FFA Member countries are responding to the situation. The countries wish to move away from a situation where licence fees are the primary benefit they receive from the exploitation of the tuna resources of the Region. In early 1994, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA)7 announced that the number of licences that will be available to foreign fleets operating under bilateral arrangements in the Central and Western Pacific, as provided for under the Palau Arrangement, will be reduced by 10 percent. This reduction will take place in early 1997. In the interim, the PNA undertook to make licences available to purse seine vessels that participate in the thrust to develop the domestic tuna industry in the Region by re-orientating their operations from foreign to locally-based.

FFA countries are taking a proactive approach to encourage the existing, predominantly foreign-based, fishing enterprises to alter their existing patterns of operation so that they offer greater opportunities for increased local involvement through two major initiatives. The first, the Federated States of Micronesia Arrangement for Regional Fisheries Access (the FSM Arrangement), is a multilateral licensing arrangement for purse seine vessels that satisfy criteria establishing them as vessels making a genuine commitment to the development of the domestic tuna industry in the Region. Vessels that meet the agreed licensing criteria can, with a single licence, gain access to the EEZs of all countries that are parties to the Arrangement. With easier access to the principal fishing grounds, at a cheaper price than would be paid should the same access be sought under a series of bilateral arrangements, and with greater long-term security, the Arrangement provides foreign vessel owners with a real incentive to change the nature of their fishing operation.

Despite these moves, there remains major constraints to the development of the tuna industry in the Region. These include:

(i) Poor public sector management and administration resulting in underdeveloped, or absent, infrastructure to support investment. Most governments lack the expertise required to effectively contribute to tuna industry investment through direct involvement. The realization that the investment policy of governments needs restructuring is evidenced by the fact that few partnerships between governments and the private sector have produced sustainable enterprises which generate mutual benefits.

(ii) Regulations and law are generally obscure and clear investment guidelines are lacking. Corporate responsibilities or expectations are not transparent and environmental legislation, for example, is inadequate. In many countries tax and customs laws serve as a disincentive to industry development.

(iii) Economic confidence in the national economies of many of the PICs is deteriorating.

(iv) Industry has generally not taken the initiative to develop a coordinated approach to promote a stronger relationship with government in the development of fisheries policy. The reverse also applies. Governments have rarely, if ever, invited industry to participate in the policy development framework. Industry relations with government are increasingly personal in nature, as opposed to sectorial, with the result that long-term development prospects suffer at the expense of short-term gain for individuals.

(v) Government expectations for localization of the labour force are often unrealistically high. The tuna industry requires foreign capital and expertise. While maximizing local employment opportunities is a legitimate long-term goal, schedules should be realistic providing ample opportunity for economic viability to be proven.

(vi) Land tenure arrangements and the fact that a high proportion of land is customary owned presents a challenge for the mobilization of sufficient land to support industry development.

Most, if not all, of the above constraints require governments in the Region to undertake major reviews of policies and legislation. It will also require close cooperation between government and industry to ensure that the domestic tuna industry is economically sustainable in the medium term.

7 The Parties to the Nauru Agreement concerning Cooperation in Fisheries of Common Interest (PNA) are: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.


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