Key fisheries meetings outcomes

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2010: The regional headquarters of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) hosted 2 key meetings last week – the Management Options Consultation to develop FFA positions for the WCPFC meeting and the Special Forum Fisheries Committee to approve these decisions.

FFA members participated in the Management Options Consultation where countries work cooperatively to draft recommended negotiating positions and proposals for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). These were then brought to the 75th Officials Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) for further discussion and endorsement. FFC outcomes on positions to take to WCPFC at its annual session in December include:

ILLEGAL FISHING: FFC agreed to push for amendments to Conservation and Management Measures to make sure prosecutions and penalties for illegal vessels are to the satisfaction of the state where the vessel committed the offences (this follows the experience of Tonga in 2008 which argued at WCPFC that the penalties for a vessel found fishing illegally in Tongan waters were not adequate, which resulted in Chinese Taipei paying the fine imposed by Tonga).

SOUTH PACIFIC ALBACORE

FFC agreed to propose amendments to the conservation and management measure on South Pacific albacore that would require members to explicitly report against the fishing limits that the measure prescribes.  This stock is critically important to the domestic fisheries of many FFA members, making it very important that the Commission can monitor compliance and implementation.

NORTHERN STRIPED MARLIN

FFC agreed to propose a measure to reduce catch of Northern Striped Marlin, in response to scientific advice that overfishing is occurring.  While this is largely a bycatch species, FFA members felt it important for the Commission to respond responsibly to the stock assessment findings.  

WHALE SHARKS

FFC agreed to support a proposal to ban purse seine vessels from trying to catch tuna that swims around and under whale sharks.  Whale sharks are a vulnerable species and the reduction of incidental deaths will be fundamental to ensuring future sustainability.

FADS

FFC discussed a range of options for the future management of bigeye tuna including proposals on limitations of fish aggregating devices by purse seine vessels and measures for the longline fishery.

CATCH DOCUMENTATION SCHEME

FFC discussed options for a catch documentation scheme which could verify catch and provide traceability of fish from origin to consumer. FFC endorsed terms of reference and guiding principles for a working group to develop a more detailed proposal for WCPFC consideration.

These positions will be discussed at the annual session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Honolulu, Hawaii, US from 6-10 December 2010. FFA members participate at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission along with other fishing nations (such as Asian nations, EU and US) to set rules for fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.