The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Pacific Community (SPC) are launching the “Tuna Bites’” campaign to celebrate the UN World Tuna Day and Pacific Tuna Month.
The campaign, in partnership with National Governments, aims to showcase tuna as an important source of protein in the Pacific and highlight its significance for food security. The campaign will be held in Pacific countries, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The campaign is based around a culinary competition that will feature the best tuna dish from each country. The national competition will have a judging panel comprising renowned chefs and culinary experts who will select the winning dish based on taste, presentation, and other country-specific criteria. The one-day competition will take place in each of the eight countries and will be broadcast on TV, allowing the public to appreciate the local culinary talent and the crucial role of tuna in Pacific cuisine and culture.
Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, Director-General of FFA said, “We are proud to be a part of this effort to raise awareness and appreciation of the importance of this resource to Pacific diets. Tuna makes up a valuable part of Pacific food systems, livelihoods, revenues and is a key contributor to socio-economic goals.”
Commending the new ‘Tuna Bites’ campaign, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna says the culinary competition “celebrates the best of our Pacific master chefs working with our Pacific tuna. Our people and cultures helped bring about the global World Tuna Day celebration and its only fitting that our region continues to innovate and inspire in celebrating this fish. Our Pacific tuna feeds the world, feeds our economies, and of course, is the best source of protein for our people, who consume up to five times more fish than the global average.”
In addition to the food competition, the “Teen Tuna Tok” campaign will have a special format this year. Youths from each country will ask questions of the competitors, creating an interactive session that fosters engagement and knowledge-sharing between the younger generation and culinary experts.
Dr Paula Vivili, Deputy Director of SPC, said, “Passing down knowledge and practices from one generation to the next is very much aligned with our SPC values of kaitiakitanga, the stewardship of our Blue Pacific. Together with our member countries, we ensure that resources are used sustainably while preserving seafood for future generations.”
Rhea Moss-Christian, Executive Director of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, praised the Pacific Tuna Bite campaign, stating, “The Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and its members are committed to maintaining and conserving Tuna Fisheries at healthy stock levels. The Pacific Tuna Bite campaign is an excellent initiative that emphasizes the role that tuna has at the heart of Pacific culture.”
Tuna is a vital “blue food”- food derived from aquatic sources – that can help provide a solution to the challenge of food security in the Pacific region. Despite facing climate change-induced challenges such as rising sea levels and natural disasters, the region’s consumption of tuna remains high, ranging from 16 kg to 102 kg (SPC Coastal Fisheries Report card 2022) per person per annum. . It also represents a key regional resource for employment and revenue with 27,500 jobs and US$480 million in government revenue from access and licensing fees (2021). By promoting and implementing sustainable fishing practices, we can ensure the long-term availability of this critical resource for future generations, while also supporting the region’s food security and overall well-being.
The campaign is generously supported by the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation of Japan.