Heavy going for tuna recovery plan talks

by Samisoni Pareti | 7 December 2016 | News

By Samisoni Pareti, Pacific Media@WCPFC13

Proposals to reduce fishing efforts in order to allow tuna stocks to recover are reported to being stymied by fishing powers at the 13th session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission that is underway in Nadi, Fiji this week.
Commission chair, Marshallese Rhea Moss Christian established discussion groups yesterday (Tuesday) in an attempt to get some movement on the discussions.
A recovery plan for the much-depleted Pacific Bluefin tuna did not get the endorsement of delegates yesterday, and a group is now looking further into the issue.
Sources in the WCPFC session say the Commission’s Northern Committee, comprising delegates of countries that fish for Pacific Bluefin in the northern Pacific Ocean had submitted a proposal on how to save bluefin, but the proposal was knocked back at the plenary session, with many delegates complaining that the recovery plan was too watered down and ineffective.
Japan is reportedly not too keen on reducing fishing effort of Pacific Bluefin. Scientists are warning that due to overfishing, Pacific Bluefin stock has been reduced to a mere 2.6% of its original biomass.
Another proposal that is getting some serious knockbacks is the recovery plan, or harvest strategy for the Pacific Albacore tuna. China is reportedly the stumbling block and the feelings among some delegates are that any resolution can only be brokered by Pacific island nations that enjoy cordial relations with mainland China.
The other item on the agenda that hasn’t progressed so well since the 13th session of the WCPFC opened on Monday this week is measures to secure the safety of Pacific Island Observers that work in the Pacific fleets of distant water fishing nations.
Our sources say all working groups are due to report back to the main plenary later today.
The WCPFC secretariat is based in Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia and is charged with managing fishing in the high seas of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
Members of WCPFC include the 17 countries that are members of the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (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) and distant water fishing nations of China, Canada, European Community, France, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.
Six Pacific territories of American Samoa, Northern Marianas, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia and Tokelau are also in the WCPFC and five other countries listed as cooperating non-members are Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Liberia and Vietnam.
The meeting will end on Saturday.