Pacific Islands push for action on Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna at WCPFC this week

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA, MONDAY 8 DECEMBER 2008: Member countries and territories of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting called on fellow members of the Commission to cooperate to take action to manage Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna.

With 17 members (Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand,
Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members cover a large part of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean where much commercial tuna fishing takes place. The FFA members also form 17 out of a total of 32 participating territories and members of WCPFC, forming a significant voting bloc (although so far in the WCPFC's history decisions have been made by consensus).

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA, MONDAY 8 DECEMBER 2008: Member countries and territories of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting called on fellow members of the Commission to cooperate to take action to manage Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna.

With 17 members (Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand,
Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members cover a large part of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean where much commercial tuna fishing takes place. The FFA members also form 17 out of a total of 32 participating territories and members of WCPFC, forming a significant voting bloc (although so far in the WCPFC's history decisions have been made by consensus).

The WCPFC Chair's draft measure proposes to reduce the catches of Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna by the larger longline fleets that target
this tuna (including China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States) by 30% over 3 years.

"As owners of the tuna resource, Pacific Islands are committed to cooperation through the WCPFC to manage Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna. We are concerned that Bigeye Tuna is subject to overfishing and Yellowfin Tuna is fully exploited. We support the WCPFC Chair's proposals for a 30% reduction in fishing and to prohibit purse seine fishing vessels from throwing juvenile fish back to sea, cover 100% of purse seiners with observers and, for three months of the year, both close the high seas to purse seining and ban the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) inside national 200-mile exclusive economic zones," said Theofanes Isamu  (Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee), speaking on behalf of the FFA members.

"Many of the actions proposed in Chair's draft measure are already being taken by Pacific Islands, especially those that are Parties to
the Nauru Agreement (PNA countries are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu). Adoption of the draft CMM will apply the same standards to fishing across the region, particularly in the high
seas."

"At the same time, as we deliberate on these issues at the WCPFC this week, FFA members will be sure to retain and protect the rights to
responsibly develop our fisheries. Pacific Island countries and territories catch just $200 million worth of tuna from its fisheries
while foreign nations fishing in the same waters catch over $1 billion. We need to use our tuna resources for employment, income and
food security and to increase our local profits from tuna to develop our local economies."

Other key WCPFC issues are outlined in 2-Minute Briefs available on www.ffa.int and include:
•       ILLEGAL FISHING: Tonga's bid to seek WCPFC support for listing a Taiwanese vessel on the WCPFC Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Vessel list,
•       SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR DEVELOPING STATES: The Special Requirements Fund and Japanese Trust Fund and the level of assistance needed will again be discussed.

More information: Anouk Ride [email protected] Tel (in Korea): +82 11 9679 0732

FFA supports its members to participate in the WCPFC by providing information and advice on technical, legal, fisheries management and
monitoring, control and surveillance issues. This work is in part funded by the GEF-funded Oceanic Fisheries Management Project.