By RONALD TOITO’ONA, Pacificmedia@WCPFC13
DENARAU, FIJI–The 17 nations of the Forum Fisheries Agency have called Japan’s bluff on proposed new measures to keep fishing observers safe – and won.
Five fisheries observers including 3 from Papua New Guinea and one from Fiji have died in the last six years.
The Pacific nations had asked the Tuna commission meeting in Nadi last week to endorse a comprehensive package of measures to assist observers if they fell ill, were harassed or intimidated, or even die in the course of their duties.
Despite a week of talks Japan said it was unable to approve the package.
So Pacific countries asked the Chair of the Commission to call the first-ever vote in the Commission’s 13-year history, a high risk tactic but one that worked.
Minutes before the vote, Japan announced it would agree to the measure, which gave it the consensus required for adoption.
The room then was filled with joy and happiness, as Pacific delegates cheered and clapped.
Director General of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) James Movick said, it was a tough process.
“I hope this commission will be remembered as one capable of putting human life above profit and politics.
“I am pleased that Japan did the right thing in this instance, and I salute the solidarity of the Pacific members of the Commission in standing for the rights of those who are the frontline of our oceanic fishery,” DG Movick said.
He added, had the vote proceeded this will be the first case of the WCPFC voting on a (substantive) measure.
“It would have been a monumental occasion. Organisations like WCPFC usually work on consensus, so the threat of a vote was a very powerful incentive to drive agreement,” he added.–ENDS