WCPFC opening emphasizes tradition and the need for sustainability

   Denarau, Fiji 5 December 2016: The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting opened today in Fiji with a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony and a call by the organization’s chairperson to appreciate “the value of incremental progress” in the Commission’s decision making process for fisheries conservation and management.

   “The traditional welcome emphasized the importance of tradition in our Pacific Islands,” said Ludwig Kumoru, PNA CEO, who is heading an observer delegation from the Parties to the Nauru Agreement at the WCPFC meeting this week at the Sheraton Denarau in Fiji. “All our islands respect their traditions that have guided generation after generation to be stewards of their resources for the benefit of current and future generations.”

   Mr. Kumoru said there is nothing more important or encompassing for all islands in the Pacific than the region’s vast marine resources. “The PNA encourages all countries to take action this week during the annual meeting in the spirit of our host nation’s welcome,” he said.

   The observation during the opening ceremony by WCPFC Executive Director Feleti Teo that “our dialogue should be reframed first and foremost around sustainability of the stocks” must be the foundation for all work of the Commission, said Mr. Kumoru.

   WCPFC Chairperson Rhea Moss-Christian called on Commission members to take “small steps” forward and “not diminish the value of incremental progress as a platform for reaching our goals.”

   “No one knows better than PNA members the benefit of incremental progress,” said Mr. Kumoru. “This describes the development over the past 10 years of PNA’s vessel day scheme (VDS) that underpins management of the skipjack tuna fishery in PNA zones.

   “The PNA hopes to see progress on conservation management during this week’s annual meeting,” he said, highlighting the importance to the islands of decisions this week to improve management of high seas fishing through development of a harvest control strategy, extending and improving an existing Tropical Tuna Conservation Management Measure that expires at the end of 2017, and other measures.

   “We support positive steps forward that support sustainable management of our tuna fishery,” Mr. Kumoru said. “I want to emphasize that we as resource owners and distant water fishing nations share the responsibility of ensuring sustainability of our fishery for decades to come. As the Commission Chair, Ms. Moss-Christian, said this morning, ‘we certainly don’t have time to make no progress at all.’”

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