Bali, Indonesia 4 December 2015: Tuvalu has warned fishing nations that continue to abuse capacity limit measures under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) that they will come under scrutiny to make sure they align with plans of Small Island Developing States like Tuvalu to develop their own fisheries.

He said management measures continued to be manipulated by members of the Commission to the disadvantage of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

"Tuvalu is still struggling to develop its own domestic purse-seine fleet in order to participate more fully in the harvesting of our own fishery resources," Mr Elisala said. "For four years now we have been trying to expand our fleet from just one to two vessels, which does not seem unreasonable for a state where foreign fishing nations currently harvest 60,000 tonnes of fish each year.” 

Mr Elisala continued:

"Until just a few weeks ago, the construction of our second vessel continued to be blocked by certain Commission members on the pretext that it would be inconsistent with WCPFC capacity management measures — in exactly the same way that construction of our first vessel was blocked.” 

"I would stress that the recent unblocking of this process was not because these Commission Members suddenly decided to respect and abide by the measures of this Commission. It was because, at the request of Tuvalu, PNA threatened to prohibit fishing in PNA waters by vessels of the Commission Members concerned.” 

"We will be watching the behaviour of these countries carefully from now on, and we will not agree to capacity management measures through this Commission until we are convinced that they have truly adopted policies and processes consistent with SIDS legitimate rights to develop their own fisheries for their own benefit."

He reminded the Commission of Article 30 of the WCPF Convention, which stipulated the collective obligation of members to consider the disproportionate burden that management measures might place on Small Island Developing States. 

Supporting Tuvalu's comments, Parties to Nauru Agreement Chief Executive Officer Dr Transform Aqorau said the PNA would oppose any further measures in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission on capacity limits which block many of their member's initiatives to build their own fishing vessels.

Under the capacity measure, fishing states have argued that all members of the WCPFC should limit the overall number of vessels fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean to 205 purse seine vessels.
The PNA has argued at WCPFC level that overcapacity was no longer an issue because the Vessel Day Scheme will manage the number of fishing vessels in WCPFC, as any fishing vessel that has exhausted its fishing days inevitably ceases fishing in WCPFC waters.

Dr Aqorau said the PNA managed capacity through their Vessel Day Scheme and this had shown in the reduction in fishing effort while increasing access fees paid to their member states.

"In this case, distant water fishing nations are abusing this measure by roping in small island developing states into the measure who wanted to build their own fishing vessels, create more employment for their people and take control of their own fishery," he said.