Pacific Mission provides valuable insight to Melanesia
(Picture caption: The New Zealand delegation meets with the Forum Fisheries Agency in Honiara, where they are briefed on their surveillance capabilities used to support and protect the single biggest economic resource of the Pacific region - fish/tuna.)
New Zealand’s development cooperation is significant in Melanesia. In both Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, New Zealand’s investments are targeted at building state capability, enhancing economic opportunities, and improving human development.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Rt. Hon. Winston Peters led a New Zealand delegation to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for the 2019 Pacific Mission.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio was part of the delegation, along with Under-Secretary for Ethnic Communities Michael Wood; parliamentarians Poto Williams, Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki, Marama Davidson, Todd McClay, Agnes Loheni, and Harete Hipango; and a range of business and Pacific representatives from New Zealand with important links into Melanesia.
The visit aimed to reaffirm the delegation’s commitment to building deeper relationships in the Pacific; enable open and frank dialogue with its partners; and highlight work to improve gender equality, youth engagement, and economic growth in Melanesia.
First stop for the delegation was the Solomon Islands, where Minister Peters and Minister Sio engaged with the newly-elected government, discussing issues which affect the Pacific region.
In Honiara, the delegation also met with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), led by FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen and Deputy Director General Matt Hooper.
There the two parties discussed priority work areas for FFA including initiatives to improve the economic returns to FFA member countries from their tuna resources and the use of new technology in the ongoing battle against illegal fishing.
The new rules governing labour conditions for crew on fishing vessels were also highlighted alongside measures to improve the safety of Pacific observers working on foreign fishing vessels.
A visit to the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) was also on the delegation’s agenda and they were briefed on the critical role it plays by FFA Director of Fisheries Operations Allan Rahari and Lieutenant Commander Phil Rowe seconded to the RFSC from the Royal New Zealand Navy.
New Zealand contributes around 40 percent of total donor funds to FFA, and its annual support amounts to around USD $7.5 million.
In Vanuatu, the delegation had the opportunity to have high level discussions, including on the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, which has resulted in two-way economic benefits and strong links with ni-Vanuatu people.
The Pacific Mission concluded on June 8.