Tuna Commission meeting was a success says Fisheries CEO

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Fonoi’ava Seali’itu Sesega signing the Tokelau Arrangement which was also rejected by the meeting as the Head of Tokelau looks on.

BY Lagi Keresoma

APIA: FRIDAY 12 DECEMBER 2014: Despite the rejection of all Pacific proposals for the management and conservation of the fish stocks in last week’s meeting of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), “it was still a success” in the eyes of Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Fonoi’ava Seali’itu Sesega.

Asked to explain why he thought it was a success when all Pacific leaders are disappointed, Fonoiava said the outcome was “expected”.

His comments contradict the views from the Pacific leaders who thought the meeting was a “failure and very frustrating.”

“Each country came to the meeting to protect their own interests and so did the Pacific through the Fishery Forum Agency (FFA),” said Fonoiava in a press conference yesterday.

He said these issues will be negotiated and consulted throughout next year until the Commission next meets in Bali, Indonesia in November 2015.

“It was unfortunate that the big fishing countries had a different opinion on why FFA and other institutions proposed measures to control the overfishing of the stock,” said Fonoiava.

He was also against the idea raised by other leaders to quash the Commission’s working group.

He said there is a need to have working groups around because they deal with the technical stuff, said Fonoiava.

Tuvalu’s Minister of Fisheries Elisala Pita told the media after the Tuna Commission meeting last week, the working groups only drag on the issues.

“Issues should be addressed and decided on the plenary platform rather that the working groups that prolong the issue,” said Hon. Pita.

One of the issues raised during the press conference was the issuing of new licenses by the Samoan government for distant water fishing companies to fish on Samoa waters.

During the meeting last week, several local fishing operators objected to the idea, however, Fonoiava said, the Government has to consider the benefit for the country as a whole hence the move towards issuing license.

He also confirmed that negotiations are continuing between the Samoan Government and the Bumble Bee Company from the United States.

Fonoiava said there are conditions in the license.

“They fish in our waters and in return they bring their fish to us,” said Fonoiava.

So whilst Samoa supports measures for the control and management of the zones, the CEO says Samoa will always consider the benefits for the development of the country.

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