PORT VILA, VANUATU (4 September 2020): The MSG Secretariat and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in the area of Fisheries and Marine Resource Management on September 02, 2020. The historical online signing was executed on behalf of the MSG Secretariat by the Acting Director General, George Dan Hoa’au and Makino Koji, JICA’s Director General – Economic Development Department. It was witnessed by JICA officials in the MSG Countries, including representatives of Fisheries Departments in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
The online signing of the MOC now paves the way for collaboration on community-based coastal resource management activities that support the implementation of the objectives of the MSG Roadmap for Inshore Fisheries Management and Sustainable Development 2015 – 2024, which is a standing mandate of the MSG Leaders.
Signed by the MSG Leaders in 2015, the Roadmap for Inshore Fisheries Management and Sustainable Development recognised the significance of coastal fisheries as a very important food security priority for the communities in the MSG region. Its vision contemplates a sustainable inshore fishery that is well managed using community-based approaches that provide and promotes long–term economic, social, ecological, conservation and food security benefits to Melanesian communities.
The collaboration with JICA provides an opportunity to utilise their technical expertise in fisheries to progress the objectives and activities of the Roadmap by the respective national fisheries departments in MSG Member countries. The objectives include; implementing effective policies, legislation, management framework and financing mechanisms for all stakeholders, conducting education, and awareness raising and the provision of information on the importance and management of inshore fisheries, and to manage, maintain and restore fisheries stocks to secure long term economic and social benefits to coastal communities.
The MSG Secretariat in the process, will support Members in meeting reporting requirements to the MSG Fisheries Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) annual Meetings and ensures that MSG Leaders’ are updated on the implementation progress of the Roadmap. The Secretariat will also coordinate and harmonise approaches to regional agencies, donors and development partners regarding assistance to Members for implementation of the roadmap at the national level.
Departments responsible for Fisheries in MSG Member countries are required to develop national implementation plans to self –assess progress, reporting and monitoring and evaluation
As the first step towards regional coordination, the MSG Secretariat acknowledged JICA’s partnership in signing the MOC. The aim of the MOC is to encourage mutual cooperation between the MSG Secretariat and JICA in association with the implementation of technical cooperation related to inshore fisheries management and development in assisting MSG Members develop and implement their plans.
Speaking during the online signing ceremony, Acting Director General of the MSG Secretariat Mr George Dan Hoa’au acknowledged JICA for their commitment and stressed that “this partnership offers an exciting modality for implementing its sub-regional frameworks”.
Additionally, he acknowledged JICA’s plan to extend the Grace of the Sea Project activities to other MSG Member countries, which has been a success in Vanuatu.
On behalf of national focal points of the MSG Members who witnessed the online signing event, the Deputy Secretary Technical of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources of Solomon Islands, Ms Rosalie Masu while applauding the event, expressed that “the milestone signing will greatly benefit the majority of our population relying heavily on coastal fisheries for food security and economic benefit”. She added, “in the face of the already many challenges and now with the COVID-19 pandemic, focus has now shifted towards empowering communities to become self-reliant and resilient, and hence the roadmap framework is part of fulfilling that vision”.
Mr Makino Koji, JICA’s Director General – Economic Development Department also acknowledged the formed partnership with the MSG Secretariat and looks forward to a more meaningful and productive engagement in implementing the visions and objectives of the Roadmap.
The MOC between the MSG Secretariat and JICA provides among other arrangements, the need for close collaboration in co-development and organisation of the national and regional training programmes, executing reciprocal invitations including exchange of information and documents, and the coordination of technical cooperation to MSG Members.
The MSG Secretariat under the new normal has embarked on facilitating online meetings and consultations as a way forward in advancing its mandates to its Members.