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Tuilaepa rallies Pacific nations to fight over-fishing

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has called on Fisheries Ministers from African, Caribbean and Pacific (A.C.P.) nations to increase combined efforts to eliminate over-fishing.  

“Increasing illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing activities continue to threaten the long term sustainability of our fisheries resources," Tuilaepa told the 6th Meeting of the A.C.P. Ministers in Charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture on Thursday.

“We should eliminate subsidies that contribute to I.U.U. fishing. We should prohibit subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and over-fishing.”

Nearly 175 representatives are understood to be in Apia for the meeting of the A.C.P. grouping that represents 56 member nations.

“Our combined efforts to fight against I.U.U. fishing and all fishing are critical. We must continue to ensure the sustainability of our tuna stocks," Tuilaepa said.

Billions of dollars in support for the fishing industry worldover has been found to contribute to the unsustainable exploitation of fishing, according to research by the O.E.C.D.. 

Tuilaepa said the threat to fisheries resources from the impact of climate change needed to be made a top priority. 

“Fisheries exports account for half of the total value of our traded commodities. The sector is key for employment opportunities, performs an irreplaceable growth in our food and nutritional security and key to the livelihoods of our people," he said. 

“The marine ecosystem provides the resources in which the Pacific peoples depend for their well-being and prosperity.”

The Prime Minister commended the inter-regional between A.C.P. member states to strengthen efforts against I.U.U fishing. 

“We should also promote South-South cooperation amongst like-minded coastal A.C.P. states on key areas such as zone-based management and efforts to address climate change and promote social responsibility including the minimum crew conditions for all vessels fishing in national waters. 

He said the meeting provides an opportunity to share experiences and look at ways of tackling common issues surrounding fisheries and aquaculture.  

“We must invest in science and research, adopt robust mitigation and adaptation strategies and better prioritise climate resilience, fisheries and management regimes,” 

“Our efforts to ensure the resilience of fisheries and aquaculture sector must be informed by the best available science and data, the investment of these at the national, regional and inter-regional levels is critical. 

“We must also look at data on the contributions of women too and their engagement in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. There is recognition of the important role they play in the sector and contribution to household livelihoods and nutrition.”

A.C.P. Assistant Secretary-General, Viwanou Gnassounou said the Secretariat has mobilised resources totalling about 90 million Euros to advocate on strategic plans ministers endorse. 

“We can assure you that the activity of this group will continue and grow in areas you have acted in the future.”

Mr. Gnassounou also reiterated Tuilaepa’s comments and called on the Ministers to work together in managing the region’s fisheries resources. 

The meeting continues at the T.A.T.T.E. Convention centre. 

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