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Dr. Transform Aqorau, a Solomon Islander and internationally renown fisheries law expert, has been appointed as Legal Advisor (fisheries) to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

This afternoon he signed the contract with the Marshall Islands Government and says he looks forward to his new appointment.

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Dr. Aqorau will be the legal advisor to the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) working to “draft regulations, ordinances, pleadings in Court and also facilitate national workshops pertaining to both Oceanic and Coastal Fisheries legal issues.”

He will also, “assist with the Legal Division to review and update amendments to national fisheries laws and promulgation of regulations on an ‘as need’ basis for both Oceanic and Coastal Divisions” and “provide legal advice on issues pertaining to “regional and sub-regional MCS framework (FFA and PNA) consistent with Conservation and Management Measures from the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (‘WCPFC’).”

Dr. Aqorau is well known and respected throughout the Pacific Islands region and internationally as one of foremost experts on international fisheries laws.

In January 2012 he became the founding Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), a position he held until August 2016. After stepping down as CEO, Dr. Aqorau continued to serve the PNA as Technical and Legal Support/Advisor.

Prior to joining PNA, Dr. Aqorau had worked as Deputy Director-General for the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) (2004–2010) and before that as the organization’s Legal Officer (1991–992). He also worked for a few years as Legal Counsel to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

In 2019 the Solomon Islands Government announced Dr. Aqorau as the country’s designate Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador to the U.S. and Cuba and High Commissioner to Canada.

However, since that announcement, Dr. Aqorau had never been served a contract. Consequently, when the Marshall Islands Government made him the offer, he accepted.

In a letter dated 11 January 2021, Dr. Aqorau informed Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of his decision.

He said, “I had no choice as there was no indication, no communication, no attempt whatsoever from your Officials and those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to formalize a contract for me after Cabinet’s approval of my appointment in July 2019.”

“Even after my meeting with you on May 26 and your assurance that I would be hearing from your Office that day; I never had any communication, email, phone call, message, directive whatsoever even until today from anyone in Government,” says Dr. Aqorau.

Despite this, Dr. Aqorau says, “let me assure you Prime Minister, that you will find no stronger advocate than me, for our people’s wellbeing and for the harnessing of our natural resources so that rights holders are not bystanders while others benefit from our resources. I will always be an Ambassador for Solomon Islands and the region, to fight to reshape the international economic order of our oceans and forest resources for our peoples.”

Dr. Aqorau started his career as a Solomon Islands public servant, working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before going to serve regional organizations.

He has a law degree from the University of Papua New Guinea, a Masters degree in International Law from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and a PhD in International Fisheries Law and Management from Wollongong University in Australia.

Dr. Aqorau comes from Munda in the Western Province and will soon take on his new position in Majuro, the capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

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