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The first ever Fo­rum Fish­eries Com­mit­tee (FFC) Min­is­te­rial meet­ing to be held on­line opens to­mor­row with the im­pacts of COVID-19 on the re­gional tuna fish­ery at the top of the agenda.

The 17th FFC min­is­ters meet­ing (Au­gust 6 -7) is oc­cur­ring vir­tu­ally, due to travel re­stric­tions aris­ing from the pandemic.

Fish­eries min­is­ters will con­sider ways in which

Pa­cific Is­lands Fo­rum Fish­eries Agency (FFA) can pro­vide fur­ther as­sis­tance around the observer pro­gramme, in­clud­ing how observer liveli­hood can be sus­tained as well as Mon­i­tor­ing, Con­trol and Sur­veil­lance (MCS) sup­port, and na­tional eco­nomic im­pact as­sess­ments.

Min­is­ters will also be pro­vided with the Tuna Fish­eries Re­port Card 2020 be­fore it is sub­mit­ted to fo­rum lead­ers later this year. The card re­ports on progress against a range of in­di­ca­tors in the Re­gional Roadmap for Sus­tain­able Fish­eries.

FFA direc­tor gen­eral,

Manu Tupou-Roosen said: “The pandemic has had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the work of FFA mem­ber coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly around MCS.

“For ex­am­ple, it is now ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to place ob­servers on-board fish­ing ves­sels, due to travel re­stric­tions and health and safety con­cerns, and re­quire­ments for fish­ing ves­sels to carry ob­servers have been sus­pended.

“The FFA Sec­re­tariat has been pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to mem­bers to help them ad­dress the im­pacts of COVID-19, in­clud­ing stud­ies to re­view food se­cu­rity and how best to sup­port ob­servers over the longer term.”

The meet­ing will take place via a vir­tual meet­ing plat­form.

Ms Tupou-Roosen said greater use of such tech­nolo­gies in the wake of the pandemic had re­in­forced the value of in­vest­ing in ap­pro­pri­ate wire­less broad­band ca­pa­bil­i­ties through­out the Pa­cific re­gion.

“Our mem­ber coun­tries see an op­por­tu­nity to in­vest in tech­nol­ogy, with a range of flow-on ben­e­fits for time and cost sav­ings in the way FFA works,” Ms Tupou-Roosen said.

“While the pandemic has been ex­tremely chal­leng­ing, it has also given mem­bers and the Sec­re­tariat a chance to re­flect on how we con­sol­i­date ap­proaches to fish­eries is­sues.

“The re­gion can emerge as even more re­silient.”

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