Distinguished Policy Fellow
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On 15th July, Dr Transform Aqorau was presented with an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at the Australian National University (ANU) for exceptional contributions to the promotion of marine resource sustainability in the #Pacific Islands region.
Dr Aqorau is a prominent Pacific leader and has made invaluable contributions across a range of policy and governance issues, particularly the evolution of cooperative fisheries arrangements. He was a key architect of the transformation of the region’s major tuna fishery. The initiative saw Pacific Island countries greatly increase their share of the proceeds from tuna fishing.
Over the course of his career he has held a number of high-level representative roles in the Pacific, including chair of the Solomon Islands Fisheries Advisory Council, Deputy Director-General of the Forum Fisheries Agency and Chief Executive Officer of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement.
While delivering his acceptance speech at ANU, Dr Aqorau emphasized the critical role that the university had played in shaping Pacific leaders “The ANU has had a long and enduring engagement with the Pacific Islands region that dates back many years, and its cutting-edge research and publications on the Islands have contributed vastly to understanding our region. Many prominent Pacific Islanders have graduated from this prestigious University including many government officials who continue to serve their countries and shape this region. The Pacific Islands region has been the focal point of many of its research and intellectual thinking, which I why I am deeply humbled to accept this honour of the Honorary Doctorate in Law from the ANU on behalf of my colleagues and friends who together helped me achieve what people thought was not possible.”
In 2019 Dr Aqorau joined the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) under the Pacific Visitor Program, continuing his long-standing contribution to ANU research activities, publications and outreach efforts. In 2019, he also published a manuscript titled ‘Fishing for Success: Lessons in Pacific Regionalism’ which is a personal account, in which Dr Aqorau describes the journey of the countries belonging to the Parties of the Nauru Agreement (the PNA) in fighting for control of their tuna resources.
James Batley, a Distinguished Policy Fellow in DPA who is also a former Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, said “Dr Aqorau is the living embodiment of the aspiration by Pacific Island countries to cooperate in controlling their own resources and in guiding their own future.”
Dr Aqorau’s work in the fisheries and marine resource management field has indeed been an inspiration for many in the region. Everyone at DPA congratulates him on this achievement and we look forward to continuing to work together.