New support will enhance Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency’s monitoring and reporting capacity
WASHINGTON, July 31, 2023 – The World Bank’s Board of Directors has approved funding for a program to further strengthen regional collaboration to safeguard the health of the Pacific’s much-valued fisheries sector through the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.
The US$9 million Forum Fisheries Agency: Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program - Second Phase for Economic Resilience will build on the first phase of the Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP) to support the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)’s work to build region-wide platforms for fisheries management, strengthen surveillance and enforcement across maritime borders, and harmonize policies across the Pacific region, which is home to 60% of the world’s tuna catch.
The new World Bank-financed project will work with the Pacific’s key regional fisheries management body to improve regional and national monitoring, control and surveillance activities to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The program will immediately benefit regional and national fisheries officials with improved capacity and working conditions, while also supporting a healthier marine environment and increased food security for the countries covered under the program.
“Fisheries are vital to the economies of Pacific countries, and in six FFA member countries are the source of more than 40 percent of government revenue,” said Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen. “We are so pleased to continue this important partnership with the World Bank to support FFA’s efforts to strengthen monitoring and reporting tools, as well as to model and forecast economic and social impacts of developments in the Pacific fisheries sector.”
“Revenue from access fees paid by fishing vessels to Pacific countries has more than doubled over past decade,” said World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands & Papua New Guinea, Stephen Ndegwa. “This increase was achieved not through increased catch, but an increased rate of return. This additional revenue ultimately means Pacific governments are in a better position to support their citizens’ needs, such as better education, improved healthcare, and more resilient infrastructure.
“Yet while the four major tuna stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean are healthy and not overfished, there is no room for complacency as the overall mass of most tuna stocks is declining and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is estimated to amount to a value of US$333.49 million annually or around 6.5 percent of total fish catch in the area.”
The scale of the Western and Central Pacific, which covers 11 percent of the world’s ocean and accounts for 60 percent of the world’s tuna catch, makes the management of these stocks, and the enforcement activities to combat illegal or unregulated fishing, major challenges.
The new project will also support FFA in identifying and designing low-carbon solutions to upgrade its infrastructure and operations using renewable energy and ensure the FFA is protected from cybersecurity threats, a potential risk given the increasing crackdown on illegal fishing activities.
This new project builds on the first phase of the Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP), which has supported significant technical assistance for Pacific countries, strengthened the Pacific region-wide Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) with enhanced surveillance and enforcement, and built capacity to ensure Pacific tuna meets European Union seafood safety regulations.
FFA member countries receiving support through the project include the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The program is funded through a grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries, and will ultimately benefit Pacific Islanders dependent on fisheries and ocean productivity which underpin jobs, nutrition, and livelihoods.