SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF PACIFIC TUNA:
24 April 2001
Conference to establish Pacific Tuna Fisheries Commission opens in Christchurch
The first Preparatory Conference for the establishment of a Pacific Tuna Fisheries Commission opened in Christchurch today. The new Commission will be established under the recently concluded Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention.
Opening the meeting, Ministry of Fisheries Chief Executive Warwick Tuck emphasised the historic significance of the Convention.
"The Convention will play a vital part in ensuring the conservation and sustainable management of the valuable tuna stocks of the Western and Central Pacific region," he said.
The Convention, which was concluded in Honolulu last September, is the culmination of six years of negotiation. It is the first broad-based fisheries management regime based squarely on the provisions of the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement.
Mr Tuck also announced that two further states - Tonga and the Solomon Islands - had signed the Convention in Christchurch yesterday, and that the Marshall Islands had deposited its instrument of ratification. This brings to 16 the number of States that have signed the Convention. Chinese Taipei has also signed the Convention under a special arrangement. Three states have now ratified the Convention - Samoa, Fiji and the Marshall Islands.
"This first Preparatory Conference marks the beginning of a new stage of work", Mr Tuck explained. "With the Convention now concluded, the next job is establishing the Pacific Fisheries Commission which will manage these important tuna resources. Over 70 per cent of the world's tuna comes from the Pacific region: the annual value of the tuna and related fish taken from the region covered by the Convention is in the region of NZ$4 billion."
Over 160 participants around the Pacific Rim will attend the Conference, including 14 Pacific Island States, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Korea, China, France and Chinese Taipei.
"New Zealand is naturally disappointed at the decision announced on Sunday that Japan would not participate in the Conference," Mr Tuck observed.
"We were keen to have Japan participate, given its major fishing activity in the Pacific region. Participants at the Conference are looking to establish a constructive dialogue with Japan on how to achieve shared interests in conservation and management of Pacific tuna. It is unfortunate that Japan has not taken up this opportunity to further the dialogue."
Mr Tuck went on to explain that Japan's absence would not detract from the Conference's core tasks.
"The focus of this first Preparatory Conference will be on the organisational issues for the new Commission and the work programme for the next stages of the preparatory process," he said. "We look forward, nevertheless, to engaging Japan in the continuing work of the Conference in the future."
For further information please contact:
Jane Willing, Ministry of Fisheries, telephone 04 470 2651
Penelope Ridings, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, telephone 025 230 5781