While fresh and enticing seafood may spring to mind when thinking about the Pacific, what many people may not realise is the extensive efforts that are being undertaken to help ensure the sustainability of fish stocks.
The Shangri-La dialogue has grown to be one of the biggest strategic gatherings in the world. Attending such a large conference was exciting – the energy and buzz in the room was palpable and it was amazing being part of the journey of the conference as it built a shared understanding of key themes and regional challenges.
In 2015, thousands of fishermen from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos were found on islands in Maluku province in Indonesia. These men had been trafficked into servitude, worked in inhumane conditions on fishing boats, and were then left stranded, without the means to care for themselves or return home.
On a rainy day in May, a delegation of Latin American Ministers, diplomats and journalists exchanged the cool climes of Perth’s CBD for the expansive, blue skies and iconic red dirt of the Pilbara region. The new WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Johnston MLA, joined them, as did our Ambassadors to Latin America and DFAT officers from Canberra and the WA State Office.
I was struck by the beauty of the country and the determination of its people. Some of my ancestors sailed from Scotland to be missionaries in the Pacific, and I can see why they thought they had arrived in the Garden of Eden.
As one of the 13 members of Sesparlu Batch 18 — the Indonesian foreign ministry’s diplomatic training program — I had the privilege to be part of the program’s tenth anniversary intake with other diplomats from the Indo-Pacific.