Vuna Road, Sopu
Tongatapu, Tonga

Nauru, 7th May 2024– The Ministry of Fisheries is proud to announce the commencement of an arrangement to enhance and strengthened the cooperation and collaboration in the management and development of the tuna fisheries resources in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).

At the 133 Annual Forum Fisheries Committee Meeting (FFC133) currently held in Nauru, 6-10th May, 2024, Dr. Vailala Matoto, CEO for Ministry of Fisheries, and Ms Pamela Ellen Maru, Secretary of Ministry for Marine Resources (MMR), Cook Islands signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources and the Ministry of Fisheries (MoF) which seeks to strengthen the collaboration and cooperation in the management of the tuna fisheries in the WCPO.

The MOU offered an opportunity for the certified observers that has been trained under the Pacific Islands Regional Fisheries Observer (PIRFO) and currently working under the Tonga National Observer Program (TNOP) to be deployed in the Cook Islands tuna fishing vessel that are licensed to fish within the Cook Islands EEZ and other fishing areas within WCPO that the Cook Islands fishing vessels are licensed to fish. This arrangement allows Tonga fisheries observers to conduct data collection and reporting on fishing activities while deploying on Cook Island’s fishing vessel. These data and information will inform manage decision on fisheries management and to combat Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the region.

The MOU also provide fishery derived employment opportunities and economic support to fisheries certified observers. It ensures growth in employment opportunities in the fisheries sector as a tangible benefit provided from the tuna fisheries to the people of Tonga. The Ministry of Fisheries is confident that this arrangement will not only increase employment opportunities but also elevate the skills of fisheries observers and also reinforce the nation's commitment to preserving the invaluable marine ecosystems for generations to come.

The Tonga National Observer Program is a Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) tool and is a key component of the Ministry of Fisheries ongoing efforts to promote responsible fishing practices. The program is set to bring together a group of dedicated individuals who have already been committed to actively involved in the observer program. To date, a total of seventeenth (17) certified fisheries observers contracted by the Ministry of Fisheries under the Tonga National Fisheries Observer Program and manage by the Ministry of Fisheries under the Observer and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Section of the Fisheries Compliance Division.

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