FFA members make gains at WCPFC committee
POHNPEI, FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA, WEDNESDAY 8 OCTOBER 2008: At the Fourth Regular Session of the Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC4) of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), in Pohnpei this week, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members advanced recommendations to increase effectiveness of fisheries management in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
The Technical and Compliance Committee of WCPFC makes recommendations to the annual meeting of the Commission, to be held in this year in December in Korea. WCPFC membership consists of the 17 members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency plus 9 other fishing nations.(1) Decisions at WCPFC so far have been made by consensus although there is also provisions for voting that have not yet been used (under WCPF Convention Article 11  which includes decision making of subsidiary bodies of the Commission).
Relevant recommendations, sought by FFA members, were included in the record of the TCC4 meeting include:
BIG EYE TUNA AND YELLOWFIN TUNA: This was again flagged as a key goal for this year’s WCPFC in December with the record stating: “TCC4 noted that agreement on a BET and YFT CMM would be a principal goal of WCPFC 5.”
ILLEGAL FISHING: Tonga’s bid to seek WCPFC support for listing a Taiwanese vessel on the WCPFC Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Vessel list, was supported by a recommendation from TCC4, which stated in the record: “TCC4 noted with concern the issue raised by Tonga regarding when a flag state has made sufficient satisfaction with respect to an IUU incident. Tonga’s position statement on this matter, received strong support from CMMs.”
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SMALL ISLANDS: The needs of small island developing states were noted by the TCC4. Marshall Islands raised the issue of vessels purchased from Taiwan but withheld for use in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Members were encouraged to address these issues at the December meeting.
TRANSHIPMENT: A working group will advance transhipment measures based on a proposal by a group of FFA members in response to concerns. Unregulated transhipment on the high seas supports illegal fishing because catches are not monitored and reported.
VESSEL MONITORING SYSTEM: TCC4 recommended approval of standards for a vessel monitoring system (to track and monitor fishing vessels) for all vessels in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and for the system to be in place by 1 April 2009. FFA is to enter into a service agreement with WCPFC for the creation of the WCPFC vessel monitoring system.
1) Members of WCPFC are FFA members (Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu) and distant water fishing nations (China, Canada, European Community, France, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Chinese Taipei, United States of America).