Bali, Indonesia 6 December 2015: Papua New Guinea said a notable concern for them at the current Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) annual meeting was fishing in the high seas and recommended urgent management intervention.
PNG Ambassador Commodore Peter Ilau said, as a member of the Commission, PNG wished to reiterate its call for effective and appropriate mechanisms to encourage member compliance with their obligations under the Conservation and Management Measures developed and adopted by the Commission.
Ambassador Ilau urged the Commission to maintain its focus on the effective management of the high seas, whilst at the same time recognising the sovereignty of coastal states to develop their fisheries.
"Measures such as the Fish Aggregating Device closures impose a disproportionate burden on Small Island Developing States because the benefits of the conservation of bigeye tuna is enjoyed by fishing States," he said.
He said at a sub regional level, PNG reaffirmed its commitment to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and Melanesian Spearhead Group initiatives including recently signing onto the PNA longline Vessel Day Scheme."We hope through this to be able to assist in bringing much needed reforms to the longline fishery in the region,” said Ilau. "We envision the Commission will then adopt compatible measures for longline fisheries in the high seas."
PNA Chief Executive Officer Dr Transform Aqorau said PNG, a powerful member of their eight member group of nations, was highlighting a number of major concerns by PNA over the years including fishing in the high seas, which was governed mainly by the WCPFC.
"PNA nations are here united on a number of issues and high seas fishing plus the state of bigeye tuna stocks are two issues we are anxious to resolve as we enter the third day of talks at this high level meeting," he said.
"Tuna catches in the eight PNA 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) have remained stable over the past five years, while catches on the high seas have increased dramatically over the same period, due to lack of control."
Dr Aqorau said since purse seine bigeye catches in the high seas have been growing steadily, purse seine bigeye catches in EEZs have been declining and catches in archipelagic waters have been steady.
"We are hopeful that we can leave (the annual meeting) resolving some of these outstanding issues that the commission needs to address this year."