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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
EU initiative strengthens drive to sustainable fishing in Western and Central Pacific
The annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) concluded last week in Apia, Samoa, with agreements on a range of important new conservation and control measures, several of them based on proposals by the European Union. In particular, the WCPFC adopted a range of monitoring and control measures which will make a substantial contribution to conserving fish stocks in the region. Key among these was an EU proposal to combat Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing. WCPFC will in future formally blacklist IUU vessels, which is crucial for tracking down and eliminating IUU activities. As a result, all Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) managing tuna and tuna like species now have such measures in place, thus closing a gap in the global management of tuna resources.
Commenting on the results of the meeting, Joe Borg, Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: "It is good to see such a recently-established RFMO taking serious measures to ensure sustainable fishing and fight against the scourge of IUU. The WCPFC has become the first tuna RFMO to introduce a non-flag state boarding and inspection scheme, and the EU will be working to encourage other RFMOs, in which we participate, to follow their example."
Commissioner Borg said, however, that when it comes to fishing effort, the good news for swordfish has to be weighed against the failure to agree adequate reductions for bigeye and yellowfin tuna. He said that the Commission would be working with its partners in the region to address this situation at the first opportunity.
The anti-IUU measures were backed up by the adoption of a scheme allowing non-flag state inspectors to board and inspect any vessel flagged to a contracting party fishing in the convention area, and by a commitment to implement a centralised satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS).
The WCPFC also agreed a number of important conservation measures, including a joint proposal from the EU and the Coastal States in the Region to limit fishing effort on swordfish to 2005 levels through 2007 and 2008. Technical Measures were also put in place to mitigate incidental catches of non-target species, in particular vulnerable seabirds such as albatrosses and storm petrels in the long-line fisheries and to regulate shark fisheries in line with the current practice of other tuna RFMOs.
The WCPFC is the RFMO responsible for management and conservation of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, an area believed to hold 60% of the worlds tropical tuna resources. The WCPFC has 26 members. Roughly 20 EU vessels currently fish in the area through in particular bilateral Fisheries Partnership Agreements with Developing Island states in the region.
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Impacts/Environment, biodiversity and fish stocks
Issues/Monitoring, control and surveillance