Honolulu 14 December 2018 — Pacific Islands fisheries leaders expressed satisfaction with the actions taken this week by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to support sustainability of the fishery, minimum labor standards for fishing crews, and expanded participation of Small Island Developing States in the work of the Commission.
A compromise worked out late on Friday, the last day of the annual meeting, allowed for extension of important provisions of the Tropical Tuna Measure that is essential to sustainable management of the tuna fishery, said Forum Fisheries Agency Director General Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Ludwig Kumoru.
This includes continuation of provisions for a three-month prohibition on use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) by purse seiners in exclusive economic zones and high seas areas between 20°N and 20°S from July 1-September 30, and an additional two-month prohibition on FAD use on the high seas. By consensus, these FAD closures were extended for an additional two-year period, through the end of 2020.
As part of the compromise, PNA members agreed to compromise language regarding the definition of FAD sets in 2019 and agreed to work with others on this broader issue.
“We're really pleased with the outcomes from this Commission meeting,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “We came into this week’s meeting with the position to maintain the strength of the existing tropical tuna measure — and this is what we accomplished.”
Mr. Kumoru agreed. “FAD closures are an important conservation action that reduces catch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna,” Mr. Kumoru said. “Maintaining the FAD closures is contributing to sustainably managing our tuna stocks.”
Several other actions of significance were endorsed by the WCPFC this week, including:
• The adoption of the South Pacific albacore Interim Target Reference Point. “This is a milestone for the management of the South Pacific albacore fishery,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.
• The adoption of minimum labor standards for crew on fishing vessels. “FFA Members continue to lead by setting the standards for responsible fishing in all respects,” Dr. Tupou-Roosen said, adding that this is the first tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organization to take this critical step for addressing labor standards for crew on board fishing vessels.
• The decision for a 2019 review of the WCPFC transshipment measure originally adopted in 2009. “This review is critical to addressing the challenge of shortfalls in information from high seas transshipment activities, particularly on longline vessels,” said Mr. Kumoru.
• The decision to provide compulsory funds to the Special Requirements Fund, which will help boost participation of Small Island Development State representatives in the decision-making processes of the Commission.
• The adoption of a measure for the Compliance Monitoring Scheme. This will allow for continued monitoring and assessment of compliance by all Commission Members with the Commission's obligations. “Doing this in a manner where it is effective, efficient and fair improves implementation of measures,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “The measure adopted provides a solid basis to ensure this as part of our future work.”
Mr. Kumoru pointed out that in taking actions like adopting a resolution for minimum labor standards and agreeing to a review of high seas transshipments, the WCPFC is playing an important role in addressing a wide-range of issues affecting the fishery. “We are promoting action in support of human rights for fishers working in our fishery and that go to addressing concerns about trafficking in people and other illicit activities,” said Mr. Kumoru.
Both credited the success of this week’s work to the tireless efforts of the Pacific Island delegates to the meeting. “The solid outcomes are the result of the hard work, patience and tenacity of the FFA and PNA member delegations with valuable support from Ministers present, and the excellent cooperation they received from our key partners,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen and Mr. Kumoru.
They also specially recognized the very able leadership of outgoing Chair Ms. Rhea Moss-Christian. “Ms. Moss-Christian’s steady hand, passion and commitment in steering the work of the Commission in the past four years has contributed immensely to advancing the Commission’s work.”