Pacific nations warned of threat to sovereignty from Distant Water Fishing Nations

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HONOLULU, 13 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—- Papua New Guinea’s Fisheries Industry Association has warned delegates at the Tuna Commission to ensure their national interests are protected from the threat posed by Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) wanting to extend the jurisdiction of fishing rules.

Chairman Sylvester Pokajam said members of the Western and Central Fisheries Commission must fight for their rights.

“The biggest threat that I keep telling the members of the PNA and the FFA they (DWFNs) have now encroached into managing our exclusive economic zones and they try to also exercise the mandate of the commission into our internal archipelago waters.

“And we said no, that is non-negotiable and it’s going to remain non-negotiable because that’s our territory, so our members should not lose sight of that.

Pokajam said the WCPFC was formed to manage the high seas but external fisheries interests had encroached into management of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of some Pacific nations.

“That’s why they should remain alert to make sure that we remain dominant because the moment they have more numbers in the commission, they may exercise their right to vote we would lose our rights and I don’t think we’d allow that.

At the moment Pacific Island nations make up a slim majority of members of the WCPFC but with other countries interested in joining that advantage could be eroded. While decisions within the WCPFC are usually taken by consensus a vote can be called as a last resort

Pokajam said it is important Pacific nations audit co-operating non-members carefully, to ensure that they are in compliance with commission regulations.

“I don’t think we should allow many (to join),” he said

Pokajam explained that members must ensure the interests of coastal states are protected.

“So (the) main objective of the coastal states – mostly the FFA members – is that we make sure that our interest is protected at all times, at all costs and at the same time the way we are seeing now is that DWFN are trying to take the power away from us,” Pokajam said.

“They (have tried) as much as possible since day one to take that power away from the coastal states but for FFA member countries we will fight for it and I think we have been very successful to date. “

Pokajam said the Pacific always remains united and nations had made some sacrifices for the sake of solidarity.

“We have been able to force our message through the purse seine industry, through the FFA and come up with our own measures through the three implementing arrangements to 100 percent observer coverage, High Seas closure – these are measures we put in place,” he said.

The VDS scheme- in which licensees pay a daily fee to operate in fishing zones – is the single most successful resource management model using rights-based control over fisheries resources.

“We have implemented the VDS. Purse seine, effect control, used to be by number of boats, that’s not the case since 2004. Effort has now shifted to days. What we are saying is you can have so many number of boats but you are limited to days,” Pokajam told journalists in Honolulu.

“And to our surprise a decade ago the value of the fisheries was about US$60 million now its more than US$400million. That’s the case because we exercise our rights and our sovereignty over the EEZ.

“The biggest threat that I can see is that they take away our rights to manage and to do whatever we want to do in our own National laws and at the same time through sub-regional and regional arrangements like the FFA, PNA and the Pacific Forum leaders.”

On Bigeye tuna, Pokajam said the Pacific must oppose US efforts to increase catch limits, saying the proposal did nothing to improve sustainable fishing.

Distant-water nations in Europe, China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have traditionally been reluctant to curb their tuna catches.

“It’s just because they see the green in all our fishery at the moment, Big Eye, Yellowfin, Skipjack, Pacific Albacore are all now in green,”Pokajam said.

“Our stock assessment is telling us that all our stocks are in green, safe zone. Just because we attain that good management and they try to come in to ride on it and I don’t I think we should agree with that.

“I think FFA member countries should reject that. I’m not part of the group that discuss this – I think I’ll leave it to them but I think we should not support that,” he said… PACNEWS

Fiji steps up pressure for adopting target reference point for South Pacific albacore

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HONOLULU, 14 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—-Fiji is the latest country to push the  Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to adopt a target reference point for South Pacific Albacore before the meeting wraps up this week.

The 17 members of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) are advocating strongly for strengthened Conservation and Management Measures (CMM’s) and also pushing to advance several priority issues including the Tropical Tuna Measure and adoption of a Target Reference Point (TRP) for the South Pacific Albacore tuna stock.

For the past three years this matter has been deferred under pressure from Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) interests in the southern longline fishery.

Fiji’s delegate Meli Raicebe reminded the Commission that WCPFC has on its books a binding decision to adopt a target reference point for South Pacific Albacore this year.

 “Every year we give a lengthy explanation of our TRP proposal, trying to anticipate and answer all the questions that we know will be asked. And for every question we answer, a new question is raised. Usually a question that we answered the previous year.

“This year we would like to ask a question of other CCMs (member nations). The question is: what do you expect will be the likely result of taking no effective management action and the impact this will have on South Pacific small island developing states? I think you already know the answer and we are simply not prepared to see this happen. I don’t need to go into detail on the FFA proposal – it has been in front of the Commission for three years now,” Raicebe stressed.

He said FFA members are determined that WCPFC needs to follow through on this to help bring the fishery back into economic health.

“Enough to say that is based on the best scientific advice and seeks to start this Commission on the path towards effectively managing this stock in a way that will provide economic benefits to all participants in this fishery.

We thank those CCMs that have already engaged with us on our proposal and we look forward to the cooperation of all WCPFC members to ensure it is passed this year,” Raicebe emphasised.

Fiji is the latest country in the region to seek concrete action taken for the adoption of the Target Reference Point.

FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou Roosen said they are keen to see progress on rules governing the albacore tuna fishery.

“So, it is critical that as a start,as a first step that we adopt this target reference point. And it is just a first step on a long journey that we will have with our partners, our fishing partners, to develop a harvest strategy around that fishery.

“With the albacore fishery, what we are looking for with the adoption of that Target reference point, is to get to a point where we can be economically viable, despite the high operating costs or the low fish prices.  But even in those low troughs, or low peaks that we are able still able to make a profit. And we see as a critical starting point, the adoption of a target reference point, which is why it is a high priority going into this meeting,” Dr Tupou Roosen said…..PACNEWS

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

Kiribati – the Pacific’s biggest tuna nation – backs FFA calls in tough tuna talks

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Kiribati Fisheries Minister Tetabo Nakara has called on nations involved in the Western and Central Pacific fishery to overcome their differences and use science-based innovative solutions to ensure a sustainable Pacific fishery for future generations.

With a catch of around 700,000 tonnes a year, more tuna is caught in Kiribati’s waters than in the waters of any other nation on earth.

In his opening address to the 15thWestern and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Honolulu, Mr Nakara supported the positions put forward by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement and challenged distant water fishing nations and coastal states alike to ‘ensure that no one is made worse off from our collective decisions’.

“It is not easy to get everyone on board but as the youngest of all RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations) responsible for the world’s greatest tuna resource, I am hopeful and confident that there is good opportunity for needed improvement with informed science-based management decisions at this forum,” Nakara said

Kiribati’s called on members of the WCPFC to set harvest control rules with well-defined target reference points for each tuna species and to adopt a new measure on the Compliance Monitoring System which is effective, efficient and fair.

Fisheries Minister Tetabo Nakara said it’s in their collective interests in search for best and innovative solutions on tuna species.

The challenge is real and similar to that faced in global environmental and climate change forums Mr Nakara said

“It is the collective call on us all as political leaders, scientists, industries, NGOs and our hard-working officials to continue our dialogue in search for best and innovative solutions that will ensure our common call for tuna resources that have brought us all to this important gathering are conserved and sustained sustainably managed,” he said.

“We cannot deny that all we have our own and different issues and that is the reality.

But I urge the secretariat to continue to seek ways forward and solutions for members’ common long-term interests,” said Nakara.

He said they have made some good progress in adopting several necessary conservation and management measures for tropical tuna not only in the exclusive economic zones but also in the high seas.

 The recognition and adoption of arrangements that include FAD (Fish Aggregating Device) closures at the WCPFC level is further evidence of collective achievement, and in particular appreciation of the coastal states aspirations, he said.

“I believe these are some of the factors that have contributed positively to the improvement in stock status particularly for bigeye and yellowfin tuna.

Other priorities for Kiribati include the development and establishment of harvest control rules with well-defined Target Reference Points.

These Nakara noted have “proven politically difficult and sensitive and we all know and understand why this is difficult”.

The Kiribati Fisheries Minister also said their experience with the Compliance Monitoring Scheme (CMS) that has been in place for the last eight years requires systematic improvements so that it facilitates achievement for its intention.

“My delegation is of the belief that the new proposed measure by FFA members is rebuilt on the principle of fairness, effectiveness and efficiency.

It is for that reason, the Minister encouraged member nations to adopting the new measure proposed at this meeting to ensure the Commission has in place a sound basis to accomplish compliance.

“I note that there are agenda items that may polarise our collective approach and when those agenda items are considered I would mutually call on us all to put aside our differences and to humbly approach those issues as one group in one voice with one amicable solution agreeable to us all.

Let all aim to ensure that no one is made worse off from our collective decision,” Nakara told WCPF delegates.

Nakara reminded delegates that at last year’s WCPFC the Chair challenged commission members with a rare opportunity to come up with a legacy that all future generations would remember this generation for.

“To my delegation that legacy is ensuring our future generation access the same or higher level of benefits from our common tuna resources,” he said.

The WCPFC meeting ends on Friday……PACNEWS

FFA push for Tropical Tuna measure to be maintained: WCPFC negotiations reach a critical stage

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HONOLULU, 13 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—– Members of the 17-nation Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) will push for the Tropical Tuna measure adopted at last year’s meeting to be maintained and will not take the fight lying down if any moves are made to weaken the measures.

That’s the blunt message from FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou Roosen, saying the region solidarity on the issue remains.

The Tropical Tuna Measure, which regulates a catch worth US$4.5 billion, is a three-year agreement.

It is designed to ensure skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks are maintained at recent average levels and capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.

It has come under challenge from a United States proposal to allow its Hawaii-based longline fleet to increase its catch limits in recognition of their better than average monitoring of their fleet’s activities.

The FFA and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) have a joint position for the Tropical Tuna Measure that they will not allow for an increase in the catch.

In the opening session of the WCPFC Pacific ministers and Delegation Heads demonstrated that solidarity with one after another calling for support for FFA positions going into WCPFC and for no weakening of the tropical tuna measure.

Cook Islands Head of Delegation, Tepaeru Herrmann, speaking as Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee on behalf of all FFA nations, reminded members that at the very first meeting of the Commission in the same conference centre in Honolulu they had agreed to some important principles.

“At that first meeting, we reached a common understanding on the need for sustainable development of the tuna resources of ou rregion, the importance of fishing responsibly, the importance of effective enforcement, and the need for effective cooperation between us. 

“Those were our founding motivations as a collective and from which we must draw inspiration from this week in our deliberations,” she said.

On the tropical tuna measure Herrmann said: ”This is currently a well-balanced measure which we all worked very hard to develop and adopt.  Therefore, our position is to maintain the strength of this measure and not weaken the delicate balance in its existing provisions.” 

Over the past two years more sophisticated ways of assessing fish stocks has led to an easing of concerns that bigeye tuna, in particular, had reached critically low levels.

Despite the improved assessment advice from WCPFC’s Scientific Committee remains that as a precautionary approach fishing mortality on bigeye should not be increased from the recent average (2011-2014).

It is advice the FFA is determined the Commission will heed.

“That is why we say there is a delicate balance in the tropical tuna measure,” Dr Tupou-Roosen explained.

Tuvalu is one of the Pacific nations for which fisheries income makes up more than half of its annual gross domestic product.

Natural Resources Minister Puakena Boreham told the opening of WCPFC that Tuvalu believes science-based management is essential and it is looking to Commission to respect the science and ensure that there be no bigger catch of bigeye tuna.


Small Pacific nations speak out at Tuna Commission

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HONOLULU, 12 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)— The tiny Pacific nation of Niue has called on members of the Tuna Commission (WCPFC) to ensure fisheries resources caught in the region are sustainable. 

Fisheries Minister Dalton Tagelagi, said members had a responsibility and duty to cooperate to ensure the tuna fisheries were managed sustainably.

“We owe it to the future generations that the legacy we leave behind for them should be one that that will be proud of,” Tagelagi said.

“I would like to reaffirm Niue’s commitment to effectively participate and contribute to the work of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. We believe that we can all share and successfully manage this vital fishery if we honestly negotiate in good faith and transparently our High Seas fisheries among us.

“We have already implemented conservative limits on our own fisheries and now look forward to cooperating with our regional partners to strengthen all management of the high seas and provide for future generations.”

Tagelagi told delegates that while Niue might be the smallest member of the WCPFC, they were well aware of their responsibilities to ensure that the Fisheries resources in the Western Central Pacific Fisheries region remained sustainable.

He said the agenda set for this week was comprehensive and members would have their own expectations and desired outcomes.

 “For Niue we look forward to decisions on at least three key issues. One is Target Reference Points for the South Pacific Albacore. The second is effective participation of Small Island developing States at this meeting and the third is a way forward concerning the process to establish high seas allocations for purse seine by the WCPFC16 in 2019 and the long line fishery in 2020,” Tegelagi  said.

Meanwhile, Northern Marianas Governor Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres called on the WCPFC for financial assistance to develop their fisheries

“We have fisheries resources in our waters but lack access to capital needed to institute large scale fisheries operations. In this regard CNMI Is interested in how the commission can insist some members and territories to obtain increased benefits and capacity derived from tuna fisheries in the region,” said Torres.

Early this year the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands hosted the 23rd Micronesian Islands Forum where  heads of states adopted two resolutions related to fisheries.

“The MIF leaders committed to combating illegal unregulated and unreported fishing in Micronesia and recognise the need for funding and capacity-building assistance from national and intergovernmental partners and non- governmental organizations. We also committed to monitoring fisheries resources in the context of shifting distribution of tuna stocks and other climate change impact on food security,” Torres said.

 “I look forward to working cooperatively with commission Members, Cooperating non-members, participating territories and other delegates during this week’s session and onward for sustainable fisheries development programme,” said Torres……PACNEWS

France calls for strong collaboration to combat IUU

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HONOLULU, 12 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—-France has called on Pacific and Atlantic tuna organisations to join forces in the fight against Illegal Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.  

Matthieu Le Quenven from French Maritime Affairs said France strongly supported the harmonisation of management and controls between the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) that manages the world’s largest tuna fishery to work with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC ).

“In particular we intend to maintain a high standard of control at sea and dock-side monitoring,” LeQuenven said.

“We also call for harmonisation of the High Seas boarding inspection between WCPFC and IATTC to make something more effective and fair to fight against IUU fishing operation in an area under permanent fishing pressure,” he said.

However, Le Quenven said France was concerned about the management of the Eastern High Seas Pocket, the ambiguities about its geographical configuration and the lack of joint data available to neighbouring territories.

 “I think the time has come to act for better monitoring of fishing activity in this zone,” Le Quenven said

“A direct transmission of VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) to the Cook Islands, Kiribati and French Polynesia and to the WCPFC will seem to be an excellent way to allow good level of monitoring in this area to which we pay great attention and is charged with ensuring that the species under its jurisdiction, including commercially valuable tropical tunas, are sustainably managed.”

He told the 15th Regular Session of the WCPFC that France had drafted a letter regarding the overlap area to the WCPFC and the IATTC to indicate that it would  favour WCPFC regulations during the next three years.

“This choice will be motivated by a strong concern for clarification of the strong conservation and management regime applicable to French Polynesia’s vessels in the waters of the Shared Management Zone,” Le Quenven said.

“This legal clarification is not intended to call into question France’s participation in the IATTC nor with respect to our commitments to this regional fisheries management organisation.”

 He said Fish Aggregating Device management was also a matter of concern.

“Even if new technical measures limit the impact, FADs are not subject of a significant reduction proposal this year despite the fact that data at our disposal seems to show that the break-even point will be around 120 buoys for the biggest fishing vessel,” LeQuenven said.

He also raised concerns on Blue Boats entering French territory and fishing illegally in the New Caledonia waters.

” The continuity of new boatsl ast year in New Caledonia we regret to see again too many incursions in our EEZ in violation of our laws – no VMS, no declaration of entrance or exit in our ports, fishing gear or any suspicious objects alongside fishing vessels without authorization,” Le Quenven said

Blue boats are typically highly economical wooden vessels operating out of Vietnam and Indonesia involved in poaching activities targeting beche de mer, clams, abalone and some coastal fish.

Most of these situations could be easily resolved by a single VHF contact in accordance with IMO Resolution A703″, he said…. PACNEWS

Regionalism critical for strengthening fisheries solidarity in Pacific

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HONOLULU, 11 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)-— With claims and counter claims by global powers that the Pacific is their strategic‘ sphere’ of influence, sub regionalism has been touted as the best way of cooperation to address complex fisheries issues for members of WPFC.

Tuna has shaped regional politics and influenced the relationship between Pacific Islands States and major trading partners including China, Japan, United States, Taiwan and South Korea and the European Union.

Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) chairperson and Cook Islands secretary for foreign affairs Tepaeru Herrmaan, says Pacific nations are seeing fisheries increasingly being elevated within both regional framework priority setting and also within a dynamic geopolitical space.

Last year Forum leaders in their communique elevated fisheries as a standing agenda item at their annual Meeting.

“Fisheries Ministers this year decided that, in addition to the Forum Fisheries committee meeting, they would create a regional fisheries ministers meeting, which would better allow them to also take into consideration coastal fisheries, or inshore Fisheries, so that committee will now convene. And that decision was supported by leaders,” Tepaeru Herrmann said.

“I think one of the things we are increasingly becoming cognisant of in our region …and increasingly those from beyond our region, is how central Fisheries is to our development agenda, not just from an economic perspective but from a conservation and international partnerships perspective. And it is offering leverage if you will, in some of our broader relationships.

“We are increasingly realising the importance …of our regional collaboration cooperation, as a means of strengthening our leverage in the fisheries conversations. So from a simple bureaucratic public servant perspective, it is certainly a very exciting time to be in the region. But I think really emphasises how much more important our regional solidarity is,” Herrmaan stressed.

She said one of the things that has been a pleasure to observe in the last couple of months is the growing collaboration between our FFA Secretariat and the office of the PNA.

“I think this is an evolution which is happening beyond fisheries space in our region (too). It is the recognition, in my personal view, that sub-regionalism has a critical role to play in strengthening regional solidarity and fisheries is perhaps one of those areas where that really comes to the fore

“A strong PNA office makes for a strong FFA collaboration, and certainly ultimately delivers better for members of the region.

Herman was asked to reflect on her recent 12-month which has seen her play a more intensive role in fisheries diplomacy.

“I think what it has particularly emphasised for me is how important national cohesion and awareness is in terms of fisheries issues, in terms of the often delicate task government must play in terms of balancing between your very valid economic development objectives as well as your obligations for conservation management at the national level and then of course, translating that into that kind of balancing in the regional space where you’ve got, in the FFA space  a number of members trying to maintain regional solidarity within those competing national priorities, which is a very difficult balancing act.

“One of the things that has certainly helped me in this very important role Is just the capability and the expertise that is within our regional Organizations both FFA and PNA but also a number of CROP agencies and I can say with a little bit of exposure we have in our Foreign Affairs service, on the global stage there is just so much we can share with the rest of the world about how we can effectively manage fisheries not just in this region, but globally.

Herrmaan said Cook Islands is very proud of its nationals who are now in senior positions in regional organisations with expertise in fisheries and that there is inspiration to be had in what those in regional fisheries have worked very hard over many, many years to ensure for the people we serve.

“I think one of the strengths of our region is this ability to bring through into a regional organisation, nationals from our countries to share not just the national context and the national perspectives but to develop and cultivate regional priorities and ownership and values, if you will, of what is the strength of this region and then to take that back (home).

WWF Bubba Cook said there are a lot of countries that depend heavily on fisheries either as distant water fishing fleets or as countries that are dependent on the tuna resource as a food source and thatgeopolitics will inevitably enter the picture.

“I think that we saw at the recent APEC meetings in Papua New Guinea that in addition to the global trade disputes  that are currently underway,  there are these regional politics that are playing out very prominently  as represented in vice president Pence’s statement at APEC where he made very clear the US’s continued interest in the Pacific region, which or may not be in conflict with the goals and ambitions of particularly China and some other Asian States in the region.

“So I think that that is unquestionably going to play in to the overall approach at meetings like this one, and other meetings related to resources in the region and I think that everyone needs to be cognisant of those additional factors, those political underpinnings that exist in the background that we have to take into account when these decisions are made. I mean, there may be things that may be said across the floor, not necessarily in concert with their particular beliefs behind closed doors and it’s, this whole process is a big chess game. It’s all about moving pieces on the board just a little at a time,” said Cook……PACNEWS

Pacific wins praise for solidarity ahead of WCPFC meeting

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HONOLULU,11 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)-—- Pacific nations attending this week’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) are on a mission to persuade members to set a target reference point for albacore tuna – the most important tuna for southerly Pacific countries – and to thwart any increase in catches of tropical tuna.

Pacific Ministers and inter-governmental bodies such at the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) have the backing of the WCPFC Chair in these aims and praise from environment groups for their new level of solidarity.

Outgoing WCPFC Chair Rhea Moss-Christian, said one of her priorities before leaving the post is to see through the agreement on Albacore tuna is adopted. Albacore is a temperate tuna important to countries such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

The adoption of a new Tropical Tuna Bridging Measure at last year’s WCPFC was designed to ensure skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks are maintained at recent average levels and capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.

“We are expecting heavy discussions on the tropical tuna this year,” Rhea Moss-Christian told Pacific reporters in Honolulu.

Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Ludwig Kumoru says their priorities at WCPFC this week is to support Forum Fisheries Agency members on the issue.

“Our stance will support the FFA members …. we don’t have any stand-alone strong views. Our views are the same as FFA so we will just be supporting FFA members –another thing- one of those that we don’t want to change, which is also in the FFA position, is for the tropical tuna measure as long as we don’t dilute it. Our bottom line is we stick to the same that we had agreed to. We are not going to see any change on the tropical tuna measures,” said Kumoru.

Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Director General Dr Tupou-Roosen said they will take precautionary approach in their work on the measure “so that is our position for the tropical tuna measure”.

“Our position is to not weaken the tropical tuna measure, we would like to maintain the strength of that measure,” Dr Tupou-Roosen explained.

The United States has put in a proposal to increase its bigeye tuna catch limit for its Hawaii-based longline fleet, based on a new system of rewards for the much higher level of scrutiny that fleet maintains from independent fisheries observers.

Dave Gershman from PEW Trust said his organisation is optimistic members of the WCPFC and Distant Water Fishing nations (DWFNs) will come into an agreement on the Tuna measures.

 “Well I think we have to continue to have discussions. Continue to have frank and honest discussions.

“I think there’s an opportunity now with bigeye not being overfished, not experiencing overfishing, there’s an opportunity to really take a step back and think about what the Commission and its members want out of the big-eye fishery and what are the measures that are going to be most appropriate at achieving those goals.

WWF’s Bubba Cook heaped praise on the FFA and PNA for their co-operation and their commitment to advancing the region’s interest in the WCPFC talks.

“I find very encouraging going into this meeting is what appears to be the increased solidarity between the FFA and the PNA, this week showing the common interest among the two groups bodes well for decision making.

“When you have both of those organisations and the combined power that they bring to the table with the unified voice, that can have a huge impact on how decisions are made at this process and so i think what appears to be an increased level of cooperation between the two organisations is a welcome signal in the WCPFC process,” said Cook

The WCPFC meeting begins today and will end on Friday……. PACNEWS.

FFA supports proposals by WCPFC to establish scientific dialogue Forum

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HONOLULU, 11 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—- The region’s Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) has expressed support to the proposals put forward by Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to establish new Science-Management dialogue.

The idea behind the Comission’s Science-Management dialogue would allow delegates at the meeting to be better briefed on the science behind fisheries.

“We are fully supportive of the proposal to establish a scientific dialogue. We see that is the appropriate mechanism where the discussions on the development of harvest strategies can take place. Right now, we don’t have a clear space for those discussions.

“We also see it as an opportunity where our scientists can explain in layman’s terms to our managers what the science means so they can make informed management decisions. All of that to take place before we come to Commission meeting and we don’t get bogged down with the details of that at an already full commission meeting but come with some clear recommendations based on the science based on the fisheries managers having their lens on this work and bring it to Commission so that our work in that one week can be more efficient and beneficial,” said newly appointed FFA director General Dr Tupou-Roosen.

She said they have one strategy and that is to cooperate with Parties to the Nauru Agreement. (PNA).

“It is the only way we can be successful as a region and we are so pleased with the close working relationship with the PNA office in particular with the CEO Ludwig Kumoru who has been very open to working more collaboratively with FFA so we are excited about that. He mentioned earlier in the week about best practice governance and we are heartened that we share the same goal with Ludwig.

Dr Tupou-Roosen said as the new DG this will be one of her priorities to ensure that the FFA utilises best practice governance.

“One of the key aspects in this work is the participation of Small Island Developing States members and by that we mean additional funds so that they can be in the room, so that they can participate and be part of the decision-making processes for this commission.

One of the proposals from our membership is to have additional participant come not just to the commission meeting but also to the key subsidiary body meetings ahead if this commission – the scientific committee and the technical and compliance meetings. Associated with that is a proposal on hosting in SIDS territories, in SIDS countries.

The new Forum Fisheries Agency Director General believes hosting WCPFC is another fundamental aspect of effective participation.

“As we all know, when these meetings come to our homes it reaches a wider breadth of our people, they gain a better understanding of this Commission and its work and its importance to the region and it’s situated in this region in this region, in our region, and so we have the ability there to put into context the decisions we take as a Commission and why it is so important that we maximise economic returns from this fishery and why it is so important that when we maximise those economic returns we will naturally produce social yields social returns for us. Food security employment, alleviating poverty, prioritising health and education, adaptation to climate change all of those. That is why it is so critical for us to take this role responsibly this coming week,” a confident looking Dr Tupou-Roosen said. ……PACNEWS