Thursday, November 28, 2013

SIDS focus, new tuna measures high on agenda as FFA heads to annual Tuna Commission meet

 Thursday 28th November 2013

Cairns, AUSTRALIA. — A Pacific call for the Tuna Commission to get back to its founding promises has formed a strong part of a high-level Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency meeting in Australia this week. In the build up to next week’s annual WCPFC Tuna Commission event, the FFA governing council of 17 Pacific Island states and territories has resolved to renew efforts to ensure the WCPFC’s founding commitments to Small Islands Developing States and sustainable management of Tuna stocks are met.

The 88th session of the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC 88) ended a five-day meeting at the Rydges Hotel Conference Centre in Cairns, Australia, yesterday. More discussions will take place this weekend in preparation for the 10th Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC 10) meeting, at the Cairns Conference Centre from 2-6 December.

For the more than 60 participants at the FFC 88, the five days in deliberations were a taste of what is to come at the larger WCPFC meeting, which will add the distant water fishing nations and other interested parties into an already complex mix of agendas.

“There has been a strong and resounding call from our member nations to take a unified focus into next week’s Tuna Commission meeting, and look at where we can grow some traction on areas of the founding Convention of the WCPFC that are important to our membership,” says FFA Director General James Movick.

“These founding elements cover clauses which are becoming more urgent and relevant with every passing meeting of the WCPFC; and highlight that our concerns on disproportionate burden and the impacts of measures on Small Islands Developing States are actually key WCPFC concerns and must be dealt with accordingly,” says Movick.

“The WCPFC10 meeting is expected to be intense and contentious with many distant water fishing nations resisting attempts by coastal states to improve the management of the tuna resource and reduce big eye tuna mortality. However, the preparation undertaken by Pacific Island governments during FFC 88 should place FFA members in a strong position to achieve positive outcomes.”

Key outcomes endorsed by FFC 88 provide the basis for the Forum Fisheries regional positions to WCPFC 10 and include:

A new Conservation Measure for Tropical Tuna – FFA members see this as the most important item on the WCPFC10 agenda. FFC 88 spent much time discussing the multiple issues and ideas for the new Tropical Tuna Conservation and Management Measure. Members agreed to continue to support the joint PNA/Japan/Philippines proposal designed to reduce big eye tuna mortality during the period 2014-17, while still allowing for SIDS development aspirations, transfer of vessels to SIDS and increased economic benefits from the purse seine tuna fishery. FFC88 work-shopped several enhancements that will contribute to reaching suitable agreement at WCPFC10.

 Enhancing the WCPFC process for consideration of the Special requirements of SIDS – FFC 88 reiterated the FFA delegation papers on this issue already submitted to the WCPFC. Members endorsed the work of the Republic of Marshal Islands on a template of questions to assess proposals at the Commission to ensure there was no disproportionate burden to SIDS in their application or implementation. There was considerable discussion on mitigating disproportionate burden for SIDS when developing Conservation and Management Measures.

 Reductions to shark mortality rates — FFC 88 further developed the FFA proposal to reduce shark mortalities for consideration at WCPFC 10. There is clear evidence that mortality on key shark species needs to be urgently addressed, and the FFA proposal sets forth strategies that will achieve this with minimal disruption to the fishing industry. 

An amended measure for South Pacific Albacore – FFC 88 agreed on an approach to put in place a one- year amendment to the current CMM on South Pacific Albacore that would prevent an increase in catches, particularly on the high seas while catch limits for members EEZs are developed. A more comprehensive new CMM for SP-ALB will be developed during 2014 for consideration at WCPFC11. 

A new Conservation Measure for Daily Catch and Effort Reporting – FFC 88 endorsed the proposed new CMM noting there is currently no specific requirement for vessels fishing on the high seas to report operational data on a daily basis. Comprehensive, accurate and timely catch and effort data are
fundamental to ensuring good scientific analysis necessary for managing fish stocks. 

Closure of the Eastern High Seas Pocket – FFC 88 agreed to close the Eastern High Seas Pocket to Fishing and strengthen the arrangements for transiting vessels. This area of high seas, bordered by Cook Islands, Kiribati and French Polynesia, is suspected of being used to circumvent tighter controls on IUU fishing in the adjacent coastal states.

 Fishing vessel standards – FFC 88 agreed to support a USA proposal on Standard Specifications and Procedures for fishing vessels.–ENDS

ABOUT FFA: The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) strengthens national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future. Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA's 17 Pacific Island members are 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. Since 1979, FFA has facilitated regional cooperation so that all Pacific countries benefit from the sustainable use of tuna – a multi-billion dollar resource important for many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific. See

ABOUT WCPFC: The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, or WCPFC, is also known as the Tuna Commission. For more information on the WCPFC and its meetings, see

CONTACT FFA MEDIA: Email: Tel: + 677 7574230 (Mob.)
FFA delegation in Cairns via — FFA Deputy Director General Wez Norris +61411885566

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