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By ILIESA TORA

Ho Chin Mi, VIETNAM – December 4, 2022: 7.20pm (Nuku’alofa Times): The incoming Executive Director of the Pacific Tuna Commission or the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission wants to work with non government organisations in finding solutions to tuna fisheries issues in the region.

Ms Rhea Moss-Christian, who will take over in her new role in March 2023, said it was unfortunate that there seems to be an environment of distrust in the Commission about NGOs and observer groups,

Speaking to the Nuku’alofa Times and the Pacific media team at the 19th WCPFC meeting in Da Nang on Thursday, Ms Rhea said she wants to be part of solutions in her new role.

“It is unfortunate that there seems to be a history or environment in our Commission of distrust between members and NGOs. And not all NGOs are the same and we have an massive NGO community observing this commission,” she said.

Ms Rhea speaking with the media. Photo: PACNEWS/Pita Ligaiula

“The NGOs provide a really important opportunity for this Commission to connect with consumers especially, people, and they bring a lot of resources. And I would love to see how the Commission can think about leveraging the resources that NGOs bring in their connections and the communities that NGOs are representing or part of, to see how that can strengthen our work.

“We do have this unfortunate framing, though, of distrust where we and we have and that’s not for nothing. I mean, we have had experiences in the past in the Commission, where NGOs have violated trust, in certain ways.

“And because there are all points of the spectrum in terms of who they represent, and issues that they represent, it’s difficult to treat them as one big group. But that’s kind of what we have to do, because the convention talks about observers generally.

“You know, I just My thinking is that just because something didn’t work before, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be solved later. Maybe that wasn’t our moment. You know, maybe we need to think, think about an old problem and a new way, and then we can start to make progress. I’m a believer, I think you got to think big. And then at least start at the top and then you can always work your way down. But let’s believe that we can accomplish all of these things and overcome all of these hurdles. But let that be our starting point.”

This year’s event at the Royal Lotus Hotel Convention Centre saw a number of NGOs from the region and overseas attending.

That included the World Wildlife Fund, PEWS Charitable Trust and Oceans International sitting in as observers and making inputs in various issues that they champion.

Ms Rhea said all stakeholders in the region will need to work together to find solutions that will boost the management, safety and future of tuna fisheries in the world’s largest tuna stocks.

  • Coverage of the 19th WCPFC was made possible with funding from the Forum Fisheries Agency and its partners

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