PORT MORESBY, 11 December 2019 – A landmark Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) resolution on climate change has been adopted by the 16th annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), creating a platform for a more urgent response to global warming by the world’s largest tuna fisheries organisation.

The resolution (see below) means the WCPFC will now more closely consider the impact of climate change on migratory fish stocks, food security and livelihoods in the Commission’s Convention Area, as well as the implications for fishing activities. 

The effects on small island developing states (SIDS) will be a particular focus.

The resolution was passed today during the final hours of WCPFC16. It also means the WCPFC will take account of climate change when developing conservation and management measures and support more investigation of the issue by Commission scientists.

Additionally, the adopted resolution requires the WCPFC to consider how it can reduce the environmental impacts of its operations.

FFA Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said FFA members were extremely pleased to see the resolution adopted, given the particular vulnerability of Pacific island countries to climate change.

“From the perspective of FFA members, the adoption of this resolution is a key development,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said. 

“It establishes a solid foundation for a more urgent approach to the threat of climate change, and not a moment too soon. While the resolution is non-binding, it will underpin momentum on this critical issue.”

FFC Chair Mr Eugene Pangelinan said, “As responsible fisheries managers, we have a part to play in addressing climate change, and the WCPFC’s willingness to endorse this resolution will send a powerful message globally that it is stepping up to the challenge.”

He added that the focus in the resolution on assessing the impact of climate change on SIDS was particularly pleasing.

“We came into WCPFC16 lobbying for Commission members to consult more comprehensively with SIDS. The special reference in the adopted resolution to SIDS shows that our concerns are being heard. There’s a long way to go, but this resolution is a good starting point.”

FFA resolution on climate change: media backgrounder 

The text below is the wording of the resolution FFA put to WCPFC16. 

Resolution on climate change as it relates to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission

The Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean,

RECOGNISING international initiatives to address the impacts of climate change including through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;

NOTING the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change;

MINDFUL of the work of the Scientific Services Provider to the Commission in assessing the impacts of climate change on target stocks and non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent or associated with the target stocks in the Convention Area;

NOTING that Pacific Islands Forum Leaders reaffirmed at their meeting in August 2019 that climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and their commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement;

FURTHER NOTING the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now made by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in August 2019;

NOTING the importance of addressing the potential impacts of climate change and other environmental degradation on target stocks, non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent or associated with the target stocks in the Convention Area;

NOTING the objective of the Convention to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean in accordance with the 1982 Convention and the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement;

Resolves to:

  1. Consider the potential impacts of climate change on highly migratory fish stocks in the Convention Area and any related impacts on the economies of CCMs and food security and livelihoods of their people, in particular Small Islands Developing States and Participating Territories.
  2. Support further development of science on the relationship between climate change and target stocks, non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent on or associated with the target stocks, as well as interrelationships with other factors that affect these stocks and species, and estimates of the associated uncertainties.
  3. Take into account in its deliberations, including in the development of conservation and management measures, scientific information available from the Scientific Committee on the potential impacts of climate change on target stocks, non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent on or associated with the target stocks.
  4. Consider how climate change and fishing activities may be related and address any potential impacts in a manner consistent with the Convention
  5. Consider options to reduce the environmental impacts of the Commission related to headquarters operation and meetings of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies.

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