Fisheries ministers from across the Pacific have converged on Mooloolaba, Queensland today to meet about the future of critical tuna fisheries.
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, said the 14th Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial Meeting would discuss the sustainable management of fisheries in the Pacific, particularly tuna fisheries.
"In 2015 the tuna catch in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean was valued at around US$4.8 billion, of that, almost half of this was caught in the waters of Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) member nations including Australia," Minister Ruston said.
"These tuna fisheries are an important economic resource for Pacific Island nations and it is vital for the future of these nations that they are managed sustainably.
"It's a significant honour for Australia to be chosen to host fisheries ministers from our Pacific neighbours to meet and talk about this issue.
"Australia is very keen to work with our partners in the Pacific and our fellow FFA members to ensure fish stocks in the region are managed sustainably for the benefit of all."
The FFA Secretariat is the key fisheries management body for Pacific Island countries, providing strategic fisheries management advice to 17 FFA Member countries, including Australia, on the management of fish stocks, monitoring and surveillance of fishing activities and trade and market access for Pacific islands Members.
Minister Ruston said she looked forward to the meeting setting the FFA's agenda for the next year, including priorities for the 14th Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
"Australia will seek to ensure that the FFA Secretariat continues to follow good governance principles to help support a thriving industry that will provide tuna now and in the future," Minister Ruston said.
- Australia is a major donor to the FFA, contributing $5 million annually in core funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- The FFA's 17 Pacific Island members consist of Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
- The Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery is Australia's fourth most valuable Commonwealth fishery, with a real value in 2014-15 of $35 million and a total catch of 5408 tonnes.