News Item

Sea of change

News 22 Mar 2018

A Pacific Fisheries Workshop held at the PISAN Fono helped scholars gain an understanding of the Pacific region’s complexities and the potential problems that arise. Igniting discussion and further debate, fisheries workshop facilitator Ralph Elika was delighted the issues caught the scholars’ attention.

Students at the PISAN Fono at Waikanae initially weren’t too enthusiastic about staging their fisheries workshop early on Saturday morning, their first full day.

But facilitator Leaupepe Taala Ralph Elika’s decision to hold it prior to keynote speaker, the Hon. Henry Puna, the Cook Islands Prime Minister, turned out to be a masterstroke.

“My No. 1 priority was to assess the level of understanding and knowledge of the scholars in regards to fisheries in the Pacific prior to the keynote,” says Ralph.

“The beauty in doing that initially, was it brought out the difference among scholars, depending on the region or island they’re from and the size of the zone they’re protecting.

“For example, 22% of all yellow fin tuna’s migrating population are within the waters of Papua New Guinea. They have a significant EE (Exclusive Economic) Zone, as do the Cook Islands. Regardless of what island nation you’re from, it helps to understand the Pacific region’s complexities and the potential problems that arise from them. It provided a great lead-in to the keynote speaker.”

The diversity of students was another bonus for the workshop, attracting students studying engineering, law, science and oceanography to name a few. Robust discussions emerged around a variety of issues, including youth unemployment, digital technology, leading to potential collaborations.

When Prime Minister Puna pinpointed issues such as monitoring, sanctions and enforcement, more dialogue followed. Ralph adds those same conversations will be taking place into the future.


“Because there are people taking part in this Fono who will be making such calls in 15 to 20 years’ time when they are their nation’s leaders.

“At the end of the day, for an effective, lasting solution there needs to be an inter-disciplinarian approach involving engineers, scientists, law … and more.

“How they bring together their diversity of thoughts is key.”