By Pita Ligaiula in Da Nang, in Vietnam

The chair of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has praised the appointment of Rhea Moss-Christian as the first Pacific women to lead the Commission.

Speaking to journalists WCPFC chair, Korean Jungre Riley Kim said Rhea Moss-Christian has a proven record of her excellent leadership when she was chair of the commission.

“Rhea is my predecessor as Commission Chair, and I have been working with her very closely because I was the vice chair when she was chairing the Commission.

“She was chairing very difficult meeting and those meetings, and those meetings dealt with revised tropical tuna measure, and she showed excellent leadership and I actually learned so much from her and that really helps me a lot when I chaired the meeting in the last four years.

Riley said with Rhea Moss-Christian at the helm of the Tuna Commission now in charge of protecting the world’s tuna stocks against bigger countries and interests – a role that has earned her global respect.

“So, she is one of the most competent and talented people I ever know, and I think the Commission is very lucky to have her as the new executive director. And I think she holds a lot of records first she was the youngest and first female Commission chair and now she is the first female director in five tunas Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).

“She is the only female Executive director the entire five RMOS and I have such a high expectation of her, and I think she will trail blaze for a lot of young women and girls in the Pacific, and I know the Pacific have a strong culture surrounding women’s power in Parliament, I think she will set a very good example in that front as well,” Riley told journalists in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Outgoing Executive director, Feleti Teo also praised Rhea Moss-Christian appointment.

She will take over from March 2023 when Teo leaves the Commission.

“I share the same experience as the Chair because when I was appointed 8 years ago, the same Commission also made the appointment of Rhea as the chair of the Commission, so I worked with her for four years and I’ve worked with Riley for four years. The only chair I know for the Commission are women, they are very good,” said Teo.

Now there are three women at the helm of tuna organisation in the Pacific with Riley as Chair of the WCPFC, Rhea Moss-Christian as the new executive director of the Tuna Commission and Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen is the first Pacific woman to be appointed the Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), having taken up the role in 2018.