Member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) are actively working together to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted through fisheries operations, allowing the industry to continue making a vital contribution to Pacific island economies.
Regional protocols have been developed through a strong partnership, led by the Australian Government’s Office of the Pacific, with the Office of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Pacific Community, the Australian Government’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, and Marine Resources Assessment Group Asia Pacific, in close consultation with Members.
Infographics will be displayed on vessels and at ports to explain hygiene practices and goods handling protocols, to mitigate against the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
At their meeting in August, Fisheries Ministers from FFA member countries emphasised the importance of supporting the fisheries sector to continue, given COVID-19 has had a major negative impact on tourism and trade in the Pacific.
“It is crucial for fisheries to continue operating at this time, providing much needed income to support the economic recovery as well as to enhance contribution to the food security of our people,” said Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, FFA Director General.
“It is very encouraging that several Members have been utilising these protocols to inform their national activities during our regional surveillance operation that concluded today. We acknowledge and sincerely thank our partners Australia, PNA, SPC, MRAG Asia-Pacific and especially our Members for their continued support and assistance in developing this valuable tool,” Dr Tupou-Roosen added.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement also welcomed the new protocols. “This is critical to the continuation of a viable fishery and the safety of our island nations in this pandemic, remembering always that complacency kills,” said CEO Mr Ludwig Kumoru.
The protocols can be found on the FFA website: http://ffa.int/covid19