TONGA BACKS DR TUPOU-ROOSEN
Tuna incentives for locals in a growing industry
By ILIESA TORA in MANILA
MANILA, Phillipines – December 5: 2.15pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Tonga has started lobbying for support to back the nomination of Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen as the new Director General of the Forum Fisheries Agency.
Dr Tupou-Roosen is currently the FFA’s legal adviser.
She has been nominated to the top post by the Kingdom.
The Chief Executive Officer of Tonga’s Fisheries Department Dr Tu’ikolongahauHalafihi confirmed this at a media briefing with Pacific journalists here at the Philippines International Convention Centre this morning.
“I can confirm that Tonga has nominated Dr Manu Tupou (Roosen) to the post of Director General at the FFA and we are backing her all the way,” Dr Halafihi told the Nuku’alofa Times at the Centre after the media briefing.
“Government had supported her nomination last year and they had given us their letter stating that which we submitted with our nomination.
“At the same time we have started lobbying with our FFA members, even here at the current meeting.”
Dr Halafihi is here in Manila with a Tonga delegation attending the 14th Regular Session of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
He said they have started talking to countries like Fiji and Samoa which, like Tonga, are not members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), with the hope that they will back the nomination.
“We are working with the FFA members, especially the non PNA members, because we believe there should be a rotation between the PNA and non-PNA members,” he said.
Dr Tupou-Roosen has been instrumental in helping the FFA draft different legislations and regulations governing the management of fisheries within the region.
The successful nominee will replace current Director General Mr James Movick.
Election of the new FFA Director General will be done in July, 2018.
Tonga’s push for more tuna income
Meanwhile, while sharing information on the Tonga tuna industry, Dr Halafihi told journalists that his ministry’s target is to make tuna income the largest contributor from the fisheries sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“That is our target in Tonga, to make tuna income the largest contributor from the fisheries sector to Tonga’s GDP,” he told the Nuku’alofa Times.
“We can see that things are increasing but there is still a lot more work to be done.
“There are incentives that we have put in place to help our people who are interested to get into the industry.
“At the same time we also have incentives to help foreign vessels who operate under our Tongan flags.”
Dr Halafihi said Tonga, like the other small island states, will continue to contribute to the WCPFC (which sets fishing rules) and FFA to help grow its tuna industry.
“We are here working with the FFA and the WCPFC to see how best we can manage our tuna resources and also look at ways that can be conserved so that we are able to secure tuna stocks in our waters in years to come,” he said.
“Tonga believes that the conservation and better management of our tuna resources will ensure that we do not run out of tuna stocks in future.
“We support the move to regulate high seas fishing and also the continuing push to ensure that we have observers working on fishing vessels.
“At the same time Tonga will continue to back decisions that will ensure we have our resources protected.”
He revealed that Tonga does not have any issue with the presence of illegal unregistered vessels in her waters.
“This is not an issue to us but we must see that the region is able to protect itself from such practices,” he added.
Sharing his ministry’s efforts to help reduce Non Communicable Diseases in Tonga and supplement food security measures, Dr Halafihi said the current pilot project where 5 tonnes of tuna supplies from each of the six foreign vessels operating out of Nuku’alofa are being sold for cheaper prices on the local market has been successful so far.
“This is something we are working on with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders back home as we try and reduce NCDs by offering cheaper pricing for tuna on the local market,” he said.
“It has proven successful and our people are happy with the arrangement so far.”
The arrangement, he revealed, does not see any financial returns for government because the income generated goes back to the fishing companies or vessels.
“We are doing it for the people but the financial returns go back to the fishing companies,” he said.
Dr Halafihi said the Tonga delegation will work through the current meeting with an open mind, hoping that decisions made would be beneficial for the region as a whole.
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