Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is an intergovernmental agency established in 1979 to facilitate regional co-operation and co-ordination on fisheries policies between its member states in order to achieve conservation and optimum utilisation of living marine resources, in particular highly migratory fish stocks, for the benefit of the peoples of the region, in particular the developing countries. Its office is in Honiara, Solomon Islands
History and status
The FFA was established by the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency Convention, signed by 14 states, mostly small island states in the Pacific Ocean plus Australia and New Zealand. Tokelau additionally joined the FFA membership in 2002.
The following Territory and States are FFA members:
The current Director General of FFA is James Movick (Federated States of Micronesia). Previous FFA Directors (the title was changed to Director-General in 2005) were:
- Philipp Muller AM (Samoa) (1980-1991)
- Sir Peter Kenilorea (Solomon Islands) (1991-1994)
- Talobak Victorio Uherbelau (Palau) (1994-2000)
- Feleti Teo OBE (Tuvalu) (2000-2006)
- Su'a Tanielu (Samoa) (2006-2012)
FFA assists its member governments and administrations in applying a coordinated and mutually beneficial approach to the conservation, management and development of regional tuna stocks. FFA has assisted its members in developing or negotiating a number of regional or sub-regional instruments for this purpose. These include:
- The Nauru Agreement (PNA): a subregional Agreement that promotes collaborative zone-based management of tropical tuna purse-seine fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zones of its Parties, including through instruments such as the Palau Arrangement Vessel Days Management Schemes that limit total tuna fishing effort within the combined PNA EEZs, the Federated States of Micronesia Arrangement that provides for preferential access by Party vessels to the EEZs of other Parties, and three Nauru Agreement Implementing Arrangements that provide for such matters as shared conditions for licensing tuna vessels, including a requirement not to fish in the two completely enclosed high seas pockets of the tropical Western Pacific, a requirement for 100% independent observer coverage aboard purse-seiners, and a requirement not to fish on or interact with FADs during the months of July, August and September. FFA is no longer the secretariat for the Nauru Agreement, which graduated to independent operation in 2010 with its own office based in the Marshall Islands.
- The Tokelau Arrangement (TKA): a new subregional arrangement that came into effect in December 2014 and which promotes collaborative zone-based management of South Pacific sub-tropical albacore tuna fisheries (mainly longline fisheries) in the Exclusive Economic Zones of its Participants. The Participants have expressed the intention to develop and agree a binding Catch Management Scheme under this Arrangement before the end of 2016.
- The Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC): FFA members were instrumental in the agreement of this tuna RFMO Convention, which came into effect in 2004, and the joint FFA membership continues to be the most active proposer of new conservation and management measures under the Convention. FFA members form one of the two permanent chambers in the WCPFC decision-making process. Assisting its SIDS members to nationally implement the measures they agree at WCPFC continues to be a major component of the work-program of the FFA Secretariat.
- The Niue Treaty: The Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the South Pacific Region is administered by FFA, and the Niue Treaty Multilateral Subsidiary Arrangement (NTSA) came into force in 2015. The Niue Treaty provides for cooperation in sharing fisheries surveillance and law enforcement assets, and for sharing information - including VMS information - as appropriate. Parties can agree to allow other Parties' patrol vessels to pursue suspected illegal fishers into their waters, and otherwise mutually cooperate to ensure that IUU fishers cannot easily escape national jurisdiction.
- The Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries Between Certain Governments of the Pacific Island States and the Government of the United States of America: Known in Pacific Islands fisheries circles as the "US Treaty" this has provided for multilateral access by USA-flagged tuna purse-seine fishing vessels to Pacific Island Parties waters (the collective EEZs of FFA membership with the exception of closed areas that are agreed from time to time). The US Treaty was agreed in 1987 and has moved through several phases. Since 2013 it has operated under an annual Statement of Intent, pending full agreement on its renewal. No fishing licences are currently (as of January 1, 2016) active under the Treaty, pending payment by US vessel owners for the Pacific Island EEZ fishing opportunities that they negotiated and agreed in August 2015 for the 2016 fishing year.
- The Harmonized Minimum Terms and Conditions for Access by Foreign Fishing vessels (MTCs): are regionally-agreed guidelines for the development of national and subregional tuna fishing licensing conditions that are updated from time to time as a result of technical advice from the FFA MCS Working Group to the Forum Fisheries Committee (the FFA Governing Council of member governments and administrations), and used as a template for updating national policy and law as appropriate.
As well as its policy coordination functions in tuna fisheries management and MCS (Monitoring, Control and Surveillance), the FFA Secretariat also has a substantial role in assisting its member countries in tuna fisheries development, including economic analysis, appraisal and promotion of investment opportunities, and in upgrading national standards that maintain access to major foreign markets. This latter work includes the establishment or updating of National Plans of Action to implement FAO standards, and the development of regionally-harmonised Catch Documentation Schemes and Port-based MCS measures for fish originating from Pacific Island SIDS waters.
- "UNTC". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- "FFA members". FFA website. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- "About FFA: Director General". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- "Welcome to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- "Tokelau Arrangement". FFA. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Text of US Multilateral Fishing Treaty (1994 version)" (PDF). FFA. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "US Govt now insisting Pacific Islands change Treaty". FFA. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Harmonised Minimum Terms and Conditions for Access (2015)". FFA. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "FAO International Plans of Action on Fisheries". FAO. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- Official Site of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency
- FFA Convention Text
- Ratification Status of FFA Convention
- Aqorau, Transform: Tuna management and UNCLOS: Implementation of UNCLOS through the Forum Fisheries Agency. University of British Columbia Master of Laws thesis. 1990.