OFMP plans to strengthen implementation of fisheries management rules by small islands

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, FRIDAY19 MARCH 2009: FFA, UNDP, SPC, WWF and SPREP staff met over the past two days to plan a process for the design of a new phase of assistance to Pacific Islands under the Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP).

The Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project provides resources from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), to Pacific Islands to strengthen management of their oceanic fisheries. Pacific Islands receive assistance such as training, technical support, fisheries management, legal, compliance and scientific advice and assistance, coordinated and delivered by regional organisations Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC),  International Union for the Conservation of Nature  (IUCN), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association (PITIA).

The current phase of the project will end in March 2011 and the project design team is preparing to bid on behalf of Pacific Island countries for a second phase of GEF funding to commence in early 2011.

Pacific Island countries have been at the forefront of developing innovative measures to manage fishing including the establishment of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). The WCPFC, an international commission to set rules for fishing tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, has taken several measures to manage the tuna stocks such as cuts to bigeye tuna fishing, fishing observers, vessel monitoring system, closing some high seas pockets and introducing measures on sharks, seabirds and turtles. However, many Pacific Islands now face gaps in their resources and capacity to implement these WCPFC measures at the national level.

To meet this need, five priorities are planned for next phase of OFMP assistance:

*Reforming laws and policies for implementation of WCPFC measures

*Providing information for formulation and implementation of fisheries and ecosystem  conservation and management

*Providing understanding of the impact of climate change on fisheries

*Implementation of measures to control illegal fishing

*Sharing knowledge and building civil society partnerships

To prepare for the next phase of OFMP, national missions to identify costs and needs small islands face in implementing WCPFC decisions will be conducted by regional experts visiting Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tokelau and Tuvalu. Following this input, project plans will then be put to all 15 Pacific Island political leaders for endorsement before being submitted for consideration by UNDP and GEF.

For more information, contact Anouk Ride Tel: +677 94548 Email: [email protected]