By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti
Tuna, a vital “blue food,” could be the answer to the Pacific’s growing challenge of food security.
In an effort to highlight the significance of tuna as a source of protein in Pacific diets, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Pacific Community (SPC) have organised the “Tuna Bites“ campaign, which ends on May 31st.
Director General of FFA, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen, said, “We are proud to be a part of this effort to raise awareness and appreciation of the importance of this resource to Pacific diets.
“Tuna makes up makes up a valuable part of the Pacific food systems, livelihoods, revenues and is a key contributor to socio-economic goals.”
The show will be broadcast on national television, allowing the public to feast their eyes on the creations of talented local chefs. They will be judged by a panel of renowned chefs and culinary experts who will select the winning dish based on taste, presentation, and other country-specific criteria.
Praising this new initiative, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna, said, “The culinary competition celebrates the best of our Pacific master chefs working with our Pacific tuna.
“Our people and cultures helped bring about the global World Tuna Day celebration, and it is only fitting that our region continues to innovate and inspire in celebrating this fish. Our Pacific people, who consume up to five times more fish than the global average,”
The campaign helps celebrate the value of tuna, promote sustainable management, highlight the cultural and economic significance of tuna, and engage the public with a fun and exciting event.
According to the SPC communications team, World Tuna Day observed on May 2nd increases awareness about the value of tuna, the threats they face, and the benefits of sustainable management. Since 2021, FFA and SPC have organised joint communication activities such as the highly acclaimed Teen Tuna Tok.
The ‘Teen Tuna Tok’ campaign will also include an interactive section of the competition where youths from each country will ask questions to competitors, which fosters engagement and knowledge-sharing between the younger generation and culinary experts.
Deputy Director of SPC, Dr. Paula Vivili, said, “Passing down knowledge and practises from one generation to the next is very much aligned with our SPC values of kaitiakitanga, the stewardship of our Blue Pacific.”
According to the SPC coastal Fisheries Report Card 2022, the region’s consumption of tuna remains high, ranging from 16kg to 102kg per person per annum; and its contribution to the key regional resource for employment and revenue is significant, with 27,500 jobs and US$480 million in government revenue.
The campaign hopes to address chefs, food enthusiasts, and food lovers who are not only passionate about cooking but also have an interest in preparing fish in a traditional or contemporary way.