Monday, 06 June 2011 - Threats to civil aviation are constantly evolving and the Pacific region is not immune to them because of their transnational nature.

The strengthening of regional partnerships is therefore imperative to ensuring that efforts to address aviation security issues in the region are well coordinated and executed.

This issue formed the crux of discussions for Pacific directors of civil aviation, who convened for a special aviation security forum in Suva, Fiji from 24­­ to 25 May 2011.

SPC hosted the meeting at its regional office in Suva with funding support from Australia's Office of Transport Security.

In his opening speech to the delegates, Director of SPC's Economic Development Division John Hogan emphasised the importance of addressing aviation security issues in the region.

'Aviation is essential to the economic and social development of Pacific Island countries and territories and we must ensure, through regulation, the achievement of practical and relevant outcomes that recognise the unique nature of our region, while maintaining compliance with broader international obligations,' he said.

Hogan also brought the meeting's attention to the Framework for Action on Transport Services, which was endorsed in April this year by the Pacific transport ministers when they met in New Caledonia for the joint energy, ICT and transport ministers' meeting. The framework provides a roadmap for better co-ordination of efforts and enhancement of services in the maritime and aviation sectors.

The forum provided an opportunity for SPC members and key regional partners to exchange information relating to international developments in aviation security, emerging technologies, capacity building, legal services, and operational issues.

The meeting agreed that the SPC Transport Programme was an appropriate mechanism for collection and dissemination of information, as well as the coordination of aviation activities among regional partners. In recognition of this, the meeting further recommended that SPC undertake the collection and retention of aviation data relevant to the current level of training and skills in the region.

Aviation security and safety oversight remain the mandate of the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) and the recently signed memorandum of understanding between SPC and PASO will result in closer collaboration in these areas.

The meeting also developed a response to the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) Declaration on Aviation Security, outlining what the region was able to do in support of the achievement of improved aviation security outcomes.

The Declaration on Aviation Security was issued by ICAO following the 37th Session of ICAO Assembly in Montréal, Canada in October 2010. It provides a pathway towards continuous improvement and the ongoing achievement of aviation security outcomes.