Thursday, June 17, 2021
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Expanding Connection To Science For The Pacific Fisheries People


Photo
Credit: P. Bosserelle, SPC

Over one
hundred participants from twenty-two Pacific island
countries and territories met this week at the thirteenth
SPC Heads of Fisheries meeting, focusing on important topics
and fisheries priorities for Pacific people. Enhancing
scientific knowledge and technical tools to better serve
members are key priorities for the coming years.

Heads
of Fisheries, senior fisheries managers, field officers,
fisheries officers, donors, other regional agencies, and
NGOs, attended this regional meeting remotely to discuss the
emerging priorities for fisheries and aquaculture in the
region for the coming years. These priorities are being
aligned to the SPC member needs in the post-COVID recovery
environment and include: digital transformation to enhance
safe and secure access to fisheries data, the Pacific
framework for action on scaling-up Community-Based Fisheries
Management, and the availability of scientific knowledge
about climate change impacts to inform fisheries management
decisions.

“Improving scientific support
for the Pacific fisheries includes the development of web
portals and data visualisation tools, as well as the
application of Artificial Intelligence in electronic
monitoring to improve data collection,” explained Neville
Smith, SPC Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystem
(FAME) Division Director. “Enhancing existing strategic
scientific assets will unleash the potential to perform
genetic and ecosystem analyses to answer specific scientific
questions from members and to build capacity in the
region.”

This meeting also discussed
and endorsed the draft Pacific framework for action on
scaling up community-based fisheries management (CBFM).
Recognising the diversity of contexts among Pacific island
communities, this framework for action provides a tool to
strengthen coastal communities’ effort in managing their
fisheries resources. Digital transformation can play a
pivotal role in this area, providing relevant and timely
information for the fisheries community.

“The United
States was pleased to chair the thirteenth Heads of
Fisheries meeting and seeing the scale of the work done by
the Pacific Community and members is impressive,”
acknowledged Alexa Cole, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
for International Fisheries at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and this year’s chair for the
Heads of Fisheries meeting.

Following four days of
valuable discussion, the Heads of Fisheries refined and
endorsed the SPC FAME’s work priorities for 2021 and
beyond. The meeting outcomes will be forwarded to the
upcoming Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting, which will be
held in late July this
year.

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