By Pita Ligaiula in Da Nang, Vietnam

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) executive director Feleti Teo has announced that he is stepping down from the position in March next year.

Teo made the announcement at the opening of the Tuna Commission Meeting (WCPFC 19) in Dan Nang, Vietnam.

“As I would take my discharge from the WCPFC early in the new year, I will do so with fond memories and a sense of self-satisfaction.

“It was eight years ago in Apia, Samoa at WCPFC11 in December 2014 that I was entrusted with the insurmountable responsibility of the Executive Director of the WCPFC. A responsibility I would like to think I carried with all seriousness, and with dignity and humility.

“Now, as I look back, I am very grateful and respectful to having been a very small part of the journey of the WCPFC for the last eight years. As the WCPFC scaled new heights and stood tall amongst the other tuna regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) with many success stories and achievements unmatched by its counterparts in other regional oceans. A moment to treasure and revel in it.

“And I have many, many people to thank for their support to me on that journey.

“But I would resist the urge to do that at this juncture as I still have a huge task to carry out this week which is to support Madam Chair in managing this meeting to its successful conclusion on Saturday. And hopefully, I would have the opportunity at the end of the week to express those thanks and gratitude,” Teo told delegates and participants at WCPFC.

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) executive director Feleti Teo at the opening of the Tuna Commission Meeting (WCPFC 19) in Dan Nang, Vietnam. Photo: Pita Ligaiula/PINA

PACNEWS understands there are several applicants jockeying for the role, including two female Pacific Islanders with strong credentials.

“I think it is likely we will see one of those two in the role, but there are some pretty strong politics and personalities at play,” an observer said.

The Cook Islands Government announced last month its support for the candidacy of Dr Lara Manarangi-Trott for the position while former WCPFC chair Rhea Moss-Christian is another women candidate for the job.

The Executive Director is appointed for a term of four years and may be re-appointed for a further term of four years.

The Executive Director is appointed by the 26 member governments of the WCPFC to head its Secretariat, which is headquartered in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. This decision is expected to be taken at the WCPFC19 this week.

The WCPFC is an intergovernmental regional fisheries management organisation established in 2004 by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, which seeks to conserve, manage and to ensure the sustainable use of tuna and billfish in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

WCPFC has a role in ensuring that Pacific Island countries secure enduring social and economic benefits from their shared fisheries resources, and that these fisheries resources are managed sustainably for future generations.