My name is Patricia Jack-Jossien, I come from the Federated States of Micronesia, FSM and at 45, I have spent two decades now in Fisheries. As a strong Christian, I would honestly put it down to God’s purpose and providence on my life’s journey so far.
I did my first year in Economics at Massey University (NZ), and it still left me undecided on becoming an economist or anything in that field. I came home to a recently completed FSM Economic Summit, and the fisheries sector really struck an interest. Executive Director of FSM National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA), Mr Eugene Pangelinan was speaking on the nation’s only renewable resources, tuna — and how accessing such fisheries resources should translate to greater benefits into the economy beyond the national income generated through fishing license fees. I was hooked.
That sparked an interest within me that was so strong, I decided to pursue Natural Resource Economics and eventually completed my BA in 2000. But securing a job straight out of university turned into an unrealistic mission. I was taking casual jobs while waiting on a chance to get into NORMA. I did everything. Storekeeping. Cleaning houses. Laundry. After 18 months my BA got me into an office job with the College of Micronesia-FSM in their Office of Admissions and Records. I kept my eye on job opportunities with NORMA and in October 2001, finally began my career in fisheries.
Fast forward to 2022. I am Vice President of the FSM National Fisheries Corporation (the Corporation), where the work I do now supports the mission “to enhance pelagic fisheries and related industries’ contribution to the sustainable development of the FSM”. That sounds formal as a mission statement, but in practice, it’s just exhilarating to know and appreciate that tuna is the main natural resource of the nation, and what we do with that resource is shaping our development.
It’s been many years since the first time I presented to a board meeting. I was in a room full of men, one of whom told me in a condescending tone, with everyone there, that his son could’ve been offered my job. I froze and blanked out, literally blinded by that comment out of the blue while I was in the middle of my presentation. I was so shocked I couldn’t even see my meeting notes. It was amazing how I didn’t faint! In the end, my superiors took over and completed the presentation. The industry has come a long way since then, but I learnt that when you have a role, it’s important to ignore the distractions and doubters and focus on just getting the work done, with the best effort you can.
Looking back over the years, there are many defining moments. I recall chairing the 2013 FSMA Annual Meeting under the guidance of former Director Feleti Teo. It was special to me because I was the only female in that meeting and FSM was assuming the role of Chair. I had to do a crash course on FSMA, to be able to follow along the discussions and be able to sum up the issues after the discussion. I was excited, although I was shaking in my boots throughout. It made me realize I can do anything once I put my mind to it. Overall, in my more than ten years with NORMA, every moment I sat behind the FSM flag in meetings/conferences provided me with life experience, networks and friendships in a job was humbling, demanding, and rewarding.
In more than seven years with the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office, I gained experience, working as part of a team serving not just FSM NORMA but all PNA members fisheries authorities, as they applied the licensing conditions and principles of the Vessel Day Scheme to this big ocean of our world, all directed by the member states securing multi-million-dollar revenues for their nations. This was all part of the work of our small team, working out of a little office in Majuro.
In this line of work, what happens at meetings can be powerful. When our Pacific people sit behind their flags at the tables of fisheries meetings, they are there to speak to the future of a stock that is so critically important to our future as nations, as a region and globally. I enjoy listening to our leaders and officials from sovereign nations of the Pacific making their contributions. No voice or view is small when you take your seat on behalf of your nation and flag at the table. Your country depends on you to defend its interest and your country’s needs may be similar or completely different from those at the same table sharing the same joint responsibility for our tuna resources.
The jargon and acronyms in this work are the same for any industry. I like the POA, which is the PNA Observer Agency– an acronym within an acronym! It’s been interesting to see the DWFN, (Distant water fishing nation) evolve in its meaning.
To youth eyeing a career in tuna, there are blessings we see and the blessings we don’t, disguised in challenges or setbacks which are all part of self-improvement and following your passion.
I think the future of fisheries that I would like to see is of course a future where there is sustainable management of our ocean fisheries. I would like to see much greater appreciation for the tuna and its value chain: We are small island States but also, large, influential Ocean States that contributes to global tuna supply and food security for families far beyond our shores. Tuna is more than a fish that feeds so many families, it’s our resource which a lot of people in FSM and around the globe depend on. I’ve had the opportunity of being a team member of NORMA, the PNA Office in Majuro, and now the FSM fishing industry as a staff member of the Corporation. I just love the impact and potential of this work. I love that I am still as involved and excited about tuna, as I was on my first day at NORMA more than 20 years ago.