Monday 14th October, Suva FIJI ISLANDS— European Union Deputy Ambassador for the Pacific, Johnny ENGELL-HANSEN has opened a three-week Regional Fish Inspectors Training Course for Competent Authorities and Industry Representatives at the Novotel Conference Centre in Suva, Fiji.
The training has been organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) under the European Union supported Development of Sustainable Tuna Fisheries in the Pacific ACP countries Phase II Project, better known as DEVFISH2. The FFA and Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the EU Delegation to the Solomon Islands jointly implement this.
The training gathers fishery representatives from Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The objective of the training is to strengthen the capacity of Competent Authorities in the Pacific region presently exporting fish and fishery products to Europe and maintaining the standards that enable the countries to continue to export to Europe.
While opening the training, Deputy Ambassador for the Pacific, ENGELL-HANSEN said ”Your time here is an investment by your countries and companies, I encourage you to make the most of this training course by engaging with the trainers and share experiences and lessons with each other. Fisheries resources represent a high value commodity in key markets, including the EU. It is evident that fisheries provide the primary source of proteins to people and revenue for your governments. But, economics and sustainability go hand-in-hand, and the EU will continue to advocate for the sustainable management of fisheries resources for future generations,”
”In this regard, the European Union is committed to assisting Pacific countries to increase export capacity while preserving the valuable marine resources. As the EU is the world’s biggest importer of seafood products, in particular tuna products, we have a significant responsibility to ensure that fisheries are undertaken in a responsible and sustainable manner,” said ENGELL-HANSEN.
Leading the FFA’s training team to the regional workshop, Training and Development Adviser Ratu Jope Tamani says the commitment from Pacific nations to ensure fisheries inspectors (competent authority officials) and industry representatives make the most of training opportunities bodes well for standards and leadership. “We have seen renewed interest from nations represented at this month’s intensive training, in gaining more of the benefits from tuna fisheries through value adding for the global market. This outlook also entails meeting tough global standards, and we are pleased to offer technical support to build capacity aimed at opening doors for those sustainably managed opportunities to occur,” he says.
ENGELL-HANSEN told representatives gathered at the training that maintaining access to European markets is crucial for the economies of several Pacific countries and, accordingly, DEVFISH2 has dedicated a lot of effort and resources towards this.
”I would like to encourage you to view exporting fish to Europe not as an obligation, but an opportunity. EU consumers are willing to pay premium prices for quality fisheries products. Some industries are already taking advantage of this huge market,” said ENGELL-HANSEN who welcomed Kiribati’s recent application to the European Commission to be listed as an eligible country to export fish and fishery products to the EU.
”Profiting from these opportunities will only be possible in countries where competent authorities are functioning well and are capable to supervise the enforcement of national regulations and EU standards. For this, countries must assume their responsibilities, and provide competent authorities with the necessary support both in terms of financial and human means required for a proper functioning.” concluded ENGELL-HANSEN.
The three-week Regional Fish Inspectors Training Course for Competent Authorities and Industry Representatives started at Novotel, Lami on 12 October and will conclude on 30 October. This is the fourth regional training course to be hosted (2010 in Fiji, 2012 in New Zealand, 2014 and 2015 in Fiji); and has also received support from New Zealand in previous years. The DEVFISH2 programme has been funded from the 10th European Development Funded (EDF) to the rune of EUR 8,718,000 and it will conclude in March, 2016.
However, on 16 June this year, the EU and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) signed the 11th EDF Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) 2014 – 2020 for the Pacific Region. Cooperation in the field of fisheries, trade and private sector development will remain a priority of the new regional Programme.