By RONALD TOITO’ONA, Manila
THE Tokelau Arrangement – an agreement which aims to get Pacific nations working together to manage albacore tuna stocks – is not the right approach for the country, says Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource (MFMR) Ferral Lasi.
Solomon Islands has the biggest albacore fishery of any Pacific nation but confirmed recently it has has withdrawn from the Arrangement.
Speaking to journalists covering the 14th Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC14) in Manila, Mr Lasi said the reason for the withdrawal is based on what is best for the country.
He explained that although Solomon Islands had been assured that its catch allocation under the Arrangement would be based on its historical catch, this did not appear to be the case once the models are run.
“We can see consistently that our allocation has gone down. And so, we decided the best is for us to withdraw, we don’t want to be constrained, because we also have our localization policy, to have our own fleet.
“We are also using the Longline VDS system, which is in conflict with the catch-base system that the Tokelau Arrangement is proposing.
“So that is the reason why we pulled out,” Mr Lasi explained, during a press conference yesterday.
He added, the strengthening of the local Solomon Islands fisheries is part of the country’s policy for the future.
“Based on the longline VDS, we want to ring fence and get more control, …and we see the Arrangement as standing in the way, constraining our policy.
“The Tokelau Arrangement only caters for certain members of FFA. Not all the members are part of the agreement,” the HOD for the Solomon Islands delegation said.
When asked if the move will affect the Pacific Solidarity in the Tuna industry, Mr Lasi said the country did not see this as something that will affect the pacific solidarity, but as an opportunity to breakout and regroup and to form a better Arrangement.
However, the Pacific Islands Tuna Industries Association (PITIA) was dismayed by the news on the country’s withdrawal.
“… actually it was disappointing for the industry, it was disappointing probably for the Pacific island region as well,” John Maefiti, Executive Officer of the Honiara based Tuna Industries Association, told the media
“We should sit down at the table and discuss our differences and look at ways to go forward.
“We just have to show the world that we are together in this and we should fight together in this and not try to show them our weak points by showing our differences in this type of initiative.” Mr Maefiti said.