Samoa wants tropical tuna measure to remain, and action on climate change

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HONOLULU, 13 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—- Any revision of the Tropical Tuna measure by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) will not be supported by Samoa.

FisheriesMinister Lopaoo Natanielu Mua told delegates at this week’s 15th WCPFC meeting this is one key area that is critically important to Samoa and also of importance to other Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

“We are not comfortable with any revision of the tropical tuna measure that will tend to limit the opportunity for a small island developing States to participate in high-seas fishing until such time as high seas limits and a fair price for allocating that limit has been agreed to by the Commission.”

Mua is also keen to see action on albacore tuna which are mainly found in more temperate waters.

“The South Pacific albacore tuna is very important to Samoa as it is the target species for our domestic longline fishery which had been one of the main foreign revenue earners for our economy as well as supporting food security and livelihoods for our people. The inability of the commission to agree to a Target Reference point for the South Pacific albacore will further delay implementation of desired management Interventions, while our domestic fleet is experiencing poor conditions and prolonged reduction in catches.”

“I am also aware of the uneven playing field due to the subsidy support received by some fleets and therefore an appropriate management strategy should be in place to ensure domestic an unsubsidised fleet remain economically viable,” said Mua.

He has also asked the Tuna Commission to urgently develop an agreed robust management arrangement for South Pacific albacore.

“I respectfully ask the Commission members, particularly our fishing partners interested in the South Pacific albacore, to urgently develop an agreed robust management arrangement for South Pacific albacore including progressing with and agreement on the various elements of a harvest strategy, such as the interim target reference point to reverse the decline in biomass trends we have observed of overtime and to restore profitable levels to the fishery.”

Mua explained Samoa is very disadvantaged in terms of its EEZ-size due to its geographic location and being sealocked by EEZs of other Pacific Island States.

“This situation has limited our ability to realise our fishing interest and development aspirations especially opportunities for our domestic fleet operations to be profitable as well as minimising the potential undesirable impacts of commercial operations on our small external fishery.”

“We are considering exploring development opportunities that take place in the closest high seas and your serious consideration of our situation would be much appreciated,” Mua emphasised at the meeting.

As Small island developing States, Mua said the Pacific is facing greater challenges from collapsing fisheries due to increasing level of fishing including IUU, environmental impacts and climate change.

“These challenges threaten the Integrity of our oceans and marine ecosystems and importantly our survival if we are not careful. On that regard we should be mindful that the burden actions to protect our oceans and manage our fisheries resources should not disproportionately fall on our small island developing states.”

“Our resource-constrained Islands, living and non-living resources in our oceans,and beyond high seas, present an exciting prospect in expanding our limited resource base. For instance, tuna and other highly migratory species are critically important as it provides the means for food security, livelihood and economic prosperity for Samoa as a Small Island Developing State.

“It is also important to note that over the past few the decisions, outcomes and inaction by the Commission on addressing key issues pertaining to the management of important tuna stocks have significantly impacted on realising social and economic benefits for some if not all Small Island Developing States, including Samoa,” he said. ……PACNEWS