United Pacific needed on fisheries negotiations

By Asenati Taugasolo Semu, Press Secretariat

APIA: MONDAY 01 DECEMBER 2014: The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is calling for a unified Pacific when the world meets in Apia this week to discuss fisheries issues at the Faleata Sports Complex.

The call was made in the lead up to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) which will decide on measures to protect vulnerable and over-fished tuna stocks, to stop illegal fishing and to ensure Pacific Islands receive a good economic returns for their fish.

Over 40 countries, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs are participating in discussions and negotiations on the Pacific nation’s call for global action to protect tuna stocks.

More than half the world’s total tuna catch originates in the Pacific.

With shrinking numbers of tuna in other oceans, more foreign fishing boats are being directed to the Pacific waters. Bigeye tuna is now down to just 16% of its pre-fishing numbers.

James Movick Director-General of the Forum fisheries Agency is adamant that urgent action should be taken.

“Unless the Pacific unify, this is a no win game,” he said.

Mr Movick said the Pacific should take a unified collective approach when negotiating issues of importance for the region during the meeting.

“Unity (and) preparedness ahead of time is very useful for Pacific,” he said referring to the October meetings each year in which all Pacific parties come together to decide on their negotiating position.

The WCPFC includes all the powerful distant water fishing nations but with 17 Pacific member countries from a total of 28, Mr Movick said the Pacific has the potential to wield a lot of influence.

The FFA countries are putting proposals for the better management of all four tuna species found in Pacific Island waters and for sharks, as well as measures to ensure more economic return to the Pacific from tuna and to improve the monitoring and surveillance to make sure that fishing vessels comply with the rules.

Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Executive Director, Mr Transform Aqorau said the main interest of the 8 main tropical tuna countries is to try and get better operational data from fishing countries like Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan, which have been failing to supply important information.

“The impact on us is that we don’t know how much fish they get out of the water which results in poor analysis,” said Mr Aqorau.

“This is an issue we will take up next week.”

In support of the FFA call, Mr Aqorau wants to see tougher measures implemented to stop transhipment.