At the launch of the Pacific Regional Transnational Organised Crime (TNOC) Disruption Strategy in Suva this week, Forum deputy secretary General Esala Nayasi says transnational organised crime is a threat to regional security.

“For far too long, organised criminal groups have been able to remain ahead and out of reach of law enforcement in the region. Our region is under attack. Our people are under attack.”

He highlighted recent cyber attacks on government systems in Vanuatu and Marshall Islands, as well as breaches affecting millions of Australians through attacks on Optus and Medibank Private.

Nayasi expressed particular concern over a criminal impersonating his successor and stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a citizen of the Cook Islands.

Nayasi stressed the economic impact of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, costing Forum Members over FJD$700 million (approx. USD$350 annually).

“IUU fishing costs Forum Members over $700 million a year – income that could be spent on health, education, roads and ports,” he said.

He then turned to the recent seizure of over four tonnes of methamphetamines in Fiji, emphasising the need for collaborative efforts to combat such dangerous drugs.

“I was shocked to see more than four tonnes of methamphetamines was found in Fiji recently. And while I congratulate all the parties involved stopping those horrible, dangerous drugs from reaching our communities, it was a stark reminder of our vulnerability.

“It is a sad fact that everyday thousands of criminals go to work to steal the hard-earned money of innocent people across the globe, including here in the Blue Pacific Continent. We cannot, and will not, let them win,” Nayasi declared.

He reminded the participants of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, launched by Forum Leaders the previous year, which envisions a future of safety, security, and prosperity for all Pacific peoples.

“To achieve this, we need a new approach. We need to work together,” Nayasi stressed.

Nayasi expressed gratitude for the collaborative effort in developing the Transnational Organised Crime Disruption Strategy and called for continued partnership to realise the vision set forth by Forum Leaders.

“Let us all work together, in partnership, to deliver on our Leaders’ vision under the 2050 Strategy, for a safe, secure, and prosperous Blue Pacific Continent for us all.

“Let us continue to deepen our regional aspirations and collective strengths by working together to remove the scourge of transnational organised crime from our Islands,” Nayasi said.