Australia Awards APEC Fellowships recipient, Willie Kerenga, graduated from the University of Queensland in 2017 with a Graduate Certificate in International Relations.

Willie is an advisor at the Coastal Fisheries Development Agency (CFDA) and, since graduating, has been appointed as an attaché with the 2018 APEC Meeting in Port Moresby.

Engaged in the fisheries industry for nearly three years, Willie quickly realised the need for fishing communities to understand how some activities can contribute to sustaining their livelihood. It is important to him that stakeholders and commercial institutions coordinate their activities to achieve better outcomes to impact the lives of fishing communities.

“The key challenge that I see every day in my line of work is effectively translating the policies in local communities, especially the fisherfolk communities who do not receive tangible benefits at their level such as credit facilities, to start up a business,” says Willie.

Being an idealist, and having confidence that Papua New Guinea’s fishing future depends on his work, Willie was grateful for the opportunity to further his studies through Australia Awards and is convinced that the course has prepared him well for APEC 2018, and for future global engagements.

“The course was great. It covered not only theoretical techniques, but practical as well,” said Willie. “Coordination issues among key stakeholders is a great challenge in my sector and this course has given me so much grounding.

“It involved understanding different players from states to international organisations, big multinational corporations as well as individuals like myself and how I play a significant role in shaping foreign policies and relationship between states or governments, and how they carry out activities relating to the government systems and other engagements.

“It has surely broadened my understanding, to see the world on a broader level as an international player and how certain activities are important towards shaping global politics and economies.”

Since completing the course, Willie has made effective use of his new skills to develop a manual for the CFDA to assist business development for specialist fishermen.

The guide covers international activities, conventions, domestic regulations on conducting business in Papua New Guinea and how communities can utilise available opportunities to maximise business. Willie is set to finish the manual soon, and it will be shared among industry participants.

“I hope to provide effective and practical tool sets to our local fisher folk communities for harnessing the opportunities provided by our government,” explains Willie

As a part of his organisation’s participation in APEC, Willie and his team will be addressing and implementing policies around illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, as well as developing a global value chain framework for micro-fisheries and small medium enterprises – something he is very excited about.

According to Willie, the course has provided new insights into policy implementation and the interplay of policy and politics in governing on a global scale.

“We have achieved many things throughout of my engagement of the public service. I worked with NGO’s before but now, I feel like, the scholarships program has doubled my progress and my contribution has been extraordinary to be able to have a seat and say at the APEC table.

“I am thankful to the Government of Australia for the opportunity.”