Pacific meet advances Intel, info-sharing against IUU fishing

27 October, 2015, FFA CC, Honiara SOLOMON ISLANDS  – Illegal, Unlicensed and Unregulated fishing is the ongoing challenge for regional and global fisheries, and Pacific member nations of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency are determined to take the lead on ensuring its stamped out in our tuna-rich EEZs.

“Combatting IUU fishing is central to what our Pacific Forum Leaders have tasked us—to ensure maximum economic returns whilst achieving sustainability of the resource,” says FFA Deputy Director General Wez Norris. In his opening remarks during a half-day workshop for parties to the multilateral Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA) on the weekend, he noted its entry into force and congratulated the six countries who have ratified. FFA as the Treaty Administrator has also just received papers of ratification by Tonga, adding its commitment to the Cook Islands, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Others in the FFA membership are pending signature or accession. The group of seven are now eyeing next steps now that the Niue Treaty Information System (NTIS) is operational. This involves countries using the information in this system to take their Monitoring Control and Surveillance efforts to the next level.

“The countries of this region already play a world-leading role in proactive fisheries management ideas. The NTSA provides another regional opt-in initiative where FFA members are saying they are prepared to deepen that cooperation by sharing information and resources as and when required, to help keep IUU fishing out of the Pacific neighbourhood,” Deputy Director General Norris says. He and FFA Director General James Movick today welcomed the newest ratification.

Referring to the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Fisheries given the stamp of approval by Pacific Leaders in Port Moresby this year, Norris says the inclusion and affirmation of work against IUU fishing in the Roadmap gives added importance to that commitment from NTSA parties to share Intel, data and national resources to combat IUU fishing.

Funding from Australia has enabled member countries to meet over the year and shape the Niue Treaty Information System’s operational details and procedures.

“We’ve been very encouraged by the feedback and questions around the exact nature of the system and how Parties will now walk the talk on making it work,” says FFA Legal Counsel Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen.

 Within the context of the whole Niue Treaty framework, “The Information system is the core which the agreement revolves around. It houses the information and authority which allow Parties to plan and conduct activities, such as what resources can be made available by an individual party and a party’s operational procedures,” says Dr Tupou-Roosen. “At this meeting of the parties to the NTSA, countries have continued to raise great interest in the operationalization of the agreement.”

“We’ve been very clear with members that nothing in the information system forces them into positions they cannot cope with. The NTIS works on an optional basis—parties choose which elements of the agreement will apply in their waters or involve their resources, and what activities to enter into with which Parties.  At the end of the day, the multilateral NTSA provides a legally binding framework to cooperate in enhancing MCS efforts and ensure the sustainability of our shared tuna resource.”-ENDS