Gov. Ralph DLG Torres was elected chairman of the Pacific Basin Development Council during the first day of the Western Governors Association in Kohala Coast, Hawaii.
PBDC is a regional non-profit organization that advances economic and social development in the Pacific Islands. The organization, which is based in Hawaii, is made up of the heads of state for Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the CNMI.
In a statement, Torres thanked the outgoing chairman, Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, for his leadership and support during his tenure as chairman.
“It’s a great honor to be provided this opportunity to advocate for our region in advancing economic stability and resilience,” Torres said.
He said he looks forward to working alongside the current and incoming leaders of the region in addressing longstanding economic issues affecting the people of the Pacific states and territories.
“The next decades will showcase the importance and beauty of the Pacific and PBDC will be critical for all our islands to continue the work of supporting greater standards of living for our peoples.”
PBDC was established in 1980 by the governors of Guam, American Samoa, the CNMI, and Hawaii.
Other Hawaii commitments
Torres is in Hawaii to attend several meetings that aims to address issues that concern the Pacific region, including the United States’ efforts to lift the quota on tuna fishing.
Torres, who joined other members of their family to celebrate Thanksgiving with his mother in Idaho, also attended the state funeral of the late U.S. President George H.W. Bush and the signing of a joint promotional agreement between Skymark Airlines and the CNMI to re-open direct flights between Japan and Saipan.
Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog is the acting governor while Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), who won as Torres’ running mate in the last elections, was also in Hawaii.
Torres also attended the 15th regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. The meeting began last Dec. 9 and ends tomorrow.
“As a participating territory of the commission, we share many commonalities with our brothers and sisters of the Pacific islands,” Torres said in his remarks. …“We have fisheries resources but lack access to capital needed to institute large-scale fisheries operations. In this regard, the CNMI is interested in how the commission can assist some members and territories to obtain increased benefits and capacity.”
He added that the CNMI hosted the 23rd Micronesian Islands Forum where member states and territories adopted two resolutions regarding fisheries. “The MIF leaders committed to combating illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing in Micronesia, and recognize the need for funding and capacity-building assistance from national and intergovernmental partners and non-governmental organizations.”
Pacific islands nations have long opposed the U.S.’ proposal to increase catch limit in the world’s largest fishing ground of tuna. The Pacific holds 60 percent of the world’s tuna fishery that amounts to $6 billion annually.
Australia, China, Canada, the Cook Islands, the European Economic Community, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, South Korea, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Tuvalu, U.S., and Vanutu are the commission members.
American Samoa, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Tokelau, and Wallis and Futuna are the participating territories aside from the CNMI, while Ecuador, El Salvador, Liberia, Mexico, Panama, Thailand, and Vietnam are cooperating non-members.