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“Our Territory, being part of New Zealand, does not usually directly benefit from international funding, but this region-wide initiative has really benefited us,” said the member from Tokelau speaking about the Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP2) at its Steering Committee earlier this month.
“We have benefited over the past 12 months from MSC [Marine Stewardship Council] certification of our free school purse seine fishery, and by participating in workshops establishing the rights of SIDS [Small Island Developing States] on the high seas. There’s been a lot of work done and we are very appreciative of GEF funding.
Tokelau’s sentiments were echoed by delegates from Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Marshall islands and Niue, who also mentioned workshops, training, funding of observers, and the Catch Documentation Scheme as benefits of the project.
Project Coordinator, Hugh Walton, told the Committee that there were funds available to extend the Project for another 18 months beyond the finish of the project in June next year until December 2020. He said such an extension would expand climate change work and increase funding of knowledge management activities.
The members of the Steering Committee warmly endorsed the proposed extension.
The delegate from the Federated States of Micronesia said it was very complex to to try and implement all the programs, and although the project had achieved many of the goals there was still more that could be achieved.
A few members also mentioned the importance of further climate change research, especially at the national level.
The delegate for Tokelau said: “This project has produced a lot of very good information. It would be good if the project could focus more on national information, especially on climate change. We are very concerned about climate change. We would like a bigger investment in this so we can make important policy decisions. Some of these decisions may mean transferring half our population to another country and the loss of a whole culture.”
Deputy Director General of FFA, Matt Hooper, who was chairing the meeting thanked everyone for their comments and said: “We will be taking this request for extension to UNDP and FAO as soon as possible.”.
SOURCE: TUNA PACIFIC.ORG/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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