Rhea Moss-Christian: Taking the fish by the tail


Rhea Moss- Christian, Special Adviser on Oceans and Trade to the RMI government

Nadi, Fiji (Pacific Note) - A real life David and Goliath struggle has unraveled in the Pacific as a young woman from a small island nation takes on the cause of protecting the world’s dwindling tuna stocks against bigger countries and interests — a role that has earned her global respect.

In her day job Rhea Moss- Christian works as the special adviser on Oceans and Trade to the government of the Marshall Islands, where she provides direct support to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is in her unpaid role as chair of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, the rule-setting body for the world’s biggest tuna fishery, that she has won the respect of the world by moving the institution from a state of paralysis.

At 42, Christian had spent more than half her life working with tuna and other marine resources. “For 20 years I have been following this path on fisheries,” Moss-Christian said. Her work in fisheries started with her undergraduate study in an American University. But her career began during the time WCPFC Convention was being negotiated in the 1990’s. The convention eventually gave birth to the commission.

Straight from school she helped the RMI government during the regional fisheries meetings and the United Nations negotiations as the they struggled with other Pacific countries to establish a body that would bring sustainable management to the last healthy fishery resources.

Christian is a cheerful young mother who takes her job seriously. She made history as the first woman to chair the Pacific Tuna Commission, a body which brings together all the big fishing nations from Europe, Asia and North America with developing Pacific nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Her recent re-election for a second two-year term is testament to the respect she has won from the members.

She wears so many hats and has recently given birth. As she travels around Asia and the Pacific with a breastfeeding baby, she is breaking new ground for women hoping to make a positive impact in the world.