On 22-23 February 2021, the first Blue Justice Community workshop was arranged in Suva, Fiji, in collaboration between the Blue Justice Initiative Secretariat in the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries , UNDP’s Nordic Representative Office (NRO), the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries, and the UNDP country office in Fiji.
The workshop was opened with high level remarks by:
- The Honorable Semi Koroilavesau, Fijian Minister of Fisheries
- Levan Bouadze, Resident Representative at UNDP Pacific Office
- His Excellency Paul Gulleik Larsen, the Norwegian Ambassador to Fiji
In his opening remarks, the Hon. Fijian Minister underscored the importance of information sharing and cooperation at all levels when addressing organized crime in the fisheries sector, in addition to highlighting Fiji’s determination to contribute to this end.
The UNDP Resident Representative spoke to the particular vulnerability of the Pacific region to illegal activities in the fisheries sector. A key source of economic and food security, the fisheries sector constitutes 75% of government revenue for some island states. He confirmed UNDP’s dedication to supporting Fiji and the region to address this threat.
The Norwegian Ambassador highlighted the ocean, together with the climate, as one of two global common goods, and hence an issue where effective transnational cooperation is particularly important. He also underscored the continuous priority of ocean sustainability and maritime security for the Norwegian government.
Workshop participants comprised invited government representatives from various Fijian agencies involved in addressing fisheries crime, including police, coast guard, fisheries, immigration, customs, and revenue. The workshop focused on effective cooperation between relevant agencies in Fiji in addressing fisheries crime.
The objective of the workshop was two-fold. First, to identify and map out the needs of relevant enforcement agencies in Fiji to effectively tackle organized crime in the fisheries sector, including to assess institutional cooperation. Second, to engage Fijian government agencies to inform the content and format of the Blue Justice Community under development towards facilitating meeting these needs.
The Blue Justice Community is a secure digital platform under development by the Blue Justice Initiative, in conjunction with UNDP NRO’s Blue Resilience project. The Community will serve as a safe and secure space to stimulate effective communication and cooperation between agencies within governments and between governments to effectively address fisheries crime.
The workshop took a ‘blended’ approach: the physical workshop took place at Suva, Fiji at the Holiday Inn hotel, facilitated by the UNDP Fiji CO and co-hosted by the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries. The Blue Justice Secretariat and UNDP NRO, plus partners NA-FIG, contributed digitally with input and discussion via the Blue Justice Community.
A key objective of the workshop was to ’test’ the Blue Justice Community as a platform for serving the needs of its government agency users. Participants were engaged in utilizing the online platform during the workshop and were encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions.
The Blue Justice Community workshop successfully brought together relevant Fijian government agencies in a fruitful exercise to stimulate communication towards identifying institutional needs to more effectively fight organized fisheries crime.
The Blue Justice Initiative and the UNDP Blue Resilience Project will follow up recommendations in moving forward under the Blue Justice Initiative.