Pacific students take part in tuna diplomacy program

by Bernadette Carreon | 21 June 2019 | News

Yellowfin tuna … stocks of this and other species are a focus of FFA's platform at WCPFC16. Photo: WWF

Sixteen students and three mentors are in the United States to engage in programs aimed at technology for managing sustainable fisheries, and monitoring and protecting fisheries resources.

The students are all from the Freely Associated States of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Marshall Islands.

Tuna Diplomacy Youth Leaders, (from right to left) Oreall, Elwais, Arianne, Mirang, and Caitlyn heads to Oregon to begin their 3 weeks Journey of Discovery for Sustainable Fisheries sponsored by the US State Department and US Embassy Palau (Photo: US Embassy Koror Facebook Page)

This is the first Freely Associated States Tuna Diplomacy Youth Leadership Program and it aims at” fostering regional cooperation among rising young leaders, and reinforcing the partnership of the United States with the countries of Micronesia to create shared prosperity for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” according to a statement from the US Embassy in Koror.

The three-week program, which started on June 7, is taking place in Oregon and is funded by the US State Department.

“The FAS leaders are preparing a future investment for their countries but it will be the young leaders of tomorrow who will see those efforts maximised and enforced. Now is the time for asking the future leaders of the FAS, What’s Next,” the statement added.

The tuna diplomacy program will arm the students with skills, motivation, and support as they discuss the long term sustainable management of their marine resources.

The US Embassy said a follow-on exchange program will take place, three or six months after the US program. It will focus on sustainable marine resource management, which will present at the Our Oceans 2020 Conference in Palau.

The students selected are high school juniors and seniors.  The program also includes students from the US to build important leadership skills and help save the oceans.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Kolonia said tuna is a shared common resource among the FAS countries.

In Palau, tuna provides local food security and helps keep the pressure off its coastal fisheries. On May 1, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. signed a presidential directive calling for a “national commitment to reduce pressure on the reef, promote locally produced foods, prioritise human wellness and healthful nutrition”.

For FSM and Marshall Islands, fisheries are the nations’ top economic driver.