Minister Lopao'o calls for continuous dialogue

The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao'o Natanielu Mua, believes continuous dialogue is important to reach consensus that protect the interests of Pacific fisheries.

Minister Lopao'o made the point when he opened the sixth meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (A.C.P.) Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture on Tuesday, beginning with the two-day senior fisheries officials meeting. 

“This meeting means a lot for Samoa and the Pacific because we have this cooperation with A.C.P. countries. It allows us to share ideas, achieve consensus to move forward to various issues affecting fisheries in this part of the world and other parts of the world," Lopao'o said. 

“Whilst we are A.C.P. countries, our voice extends under the United Nations. As a member of the U.N, our decisions here will also be reflected in the overall management of fisheries resources in the whole world. 

“So for us it is important that we keep the dialogue going, we also come to some agreements that protect our interests here in the Pacific and also other region.”

Lopao'o reminded the delegations the decision they make impacts the future of the A.C.P. countries. 

“We have continuing involvement of developed countries and bigger countries in our region but through fisheries, we have to implement control and we have to implement surveillance measures to make sure that our fish is going to be here today and tomorrow.”

He said under the Sustainable Development Goal 14, Samoa is working towards the management of coastal fisheries for small scale fishing activities. 

“It’s very important for Samoa that we’ve got to protect the interest of our local fishermen and hence, that in Samoa for instance, that we know our foreign fishing company or vessel can’t actually fish within the first 25 kilometers from the shore, that’s actually reserved for our local fishermen. 

“What we are looking at is that enough, is that sufficient, from a policy perspective we may have to change that, or is that too much but this is part of the ongoing discussion that we are having with our ministry and also with our partners in the Pacific and this kind of forum.” 

Lopaoo said while Samoa hasn’t recorded any illegal fishing activities, there have been reports of illegal fishing in other Pacific Islands. 

“We have only got 14 foreign fishing vessels licensed to fish in our E.E.Z. (exclusive economic zone) on top of that is our local fishermen. We have to manage it in a way that it is sustainable. 

“To do that we have been given a quarter of 5,000 tons a year, so the license that we have issued to date is nowhere near ripping up 5,0000 tons yet, but we have to be careful because we do not want to exhaust that limit, and we do not want to go to close. 

“Our fisheries division ensures that we keep under our quarter and we also make sure our fish stock numbers are maintained.” 

The meeting continues at the T.AT.T.E. Building Convention Center. 

Attending are high-level policy decision makers in fisheries and aquaculture from the A.C.P. member states, leading fisheries professionals and practitioners to discuss policies for developing sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. 

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