Tokelau faces fisheries capacity issues

Tokelau is facing constraints on its fisheries capacity and believes cooperation between Pacific states is needed to ensure the region's food security, a climate change official from the territory has warned.

Jewel Toloa-Tuitama, a National Disaster Management Officer from Tokelau's Ministry of Climate, Oceans and Resilience, stressed the issue of fisheries capacity at a recent climate change conference in Noumea. 

"Capacity is the most pressing issue faced by Tokelau at the moment because our ocean, our biggest resource, at the moment our fisheries resource and our capacity to monitor it [are constrained]," she said at the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 in New Caledonia. 

"Everyone has to be at the table to discuss [fisheries capacity] and join forces with our Pacific island states whatever agenda is set, it is in our best interests.

"Not all the countries have the same capacity."

The comments have implications for Samoa, which is not only in the process of negotiating its maritime boundaries with neighbouring states such as Tokelau but which is part of a broader Pacific push to eat more fish in response to food security concerns. 

Fisheries are the biggest resources for the non-self-governing territory of New Zealand. 

The territory has generated substantial revenue from fishing operations within its Exclusive Economic Zone.

However, ongoing capacity constraints, relating to processing and transportation present an economic and environmental challenge. 

"The ocean is us and everything to do with the ocean not only represents how we think and how we operate," Ms Toloa-Tuitama said. 

"Tokelau wishes or aspires to come up with the solutions for these global issues.

"This is our identity."

A June Ministers meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency called for more progress to be made on joint regional strategies for making tuna fishing across the region more sustainable and more efficient. 

The organisation's Regional Longline strategies seeks to establish norms between member states for longline fishing limits and to make long line fishing more efficient but also more sustainable. 

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