New Zealand Spearheads International Fisheries Agreement
10 February 2006
New Zealand is playing a pivotal role in a new international fisheries management initiative for the South Pacific high seas.
A South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) is being established to address a gap in high seas fisheries management, beginning with an international meeting from 14th – 17th February at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa o Tongarewa.
Co-sponsored by New Zealand, Chile and Australia, the meeting will be attended by over 100 delegates representing more than 20 countries, along with almost 20 other organisations as observers.
“This is a first and critical step in addressing a gap in fisheries management of largely non-highly migratory fisheries in the international waters outside the protection of existing RFMOs between the eastern Southern Indian Ocean and South America,” said Stan Crothers, Deputy CEO of Ministry of Fisheries (MFish).
MFish, along with the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, are joint organisers of the SPRFMO meeting, and Mr Crothers will lead negotiations on behalf of New Zealand.
“Currently any state can fish for any species in almost any manner it chooses,” said Mr Crothers. “Most of the rest of the world’s international waters enjoy varying degrees of conservation and management. The lack of a robust organisation for the conservation and management of non-highly migratory fisheries, and associated protection of the marine environment in this high seas area, is a serious concern.”
The meeting, which will be formally opened by the Minister of Fisheries, Hon. Jim Anderton, aims to establish a legislative framework consistent with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), enabling greater control and management of high seas fisheries in the South Pacific region.
Fish stocks likely to be affected include mackerel, squid and orange roughy.
The four-day meeting is the first in a series over the next three to four years. Mr Crothers said this was a relatively “short period” in the establishment of such international legislation.
“The four-year time frame doesn’t mean we can’t achieve some short-term wins; we must act urgently, and in a sprit of cooperation agree on interim measures to address some of the most urgent issues facing us. But it’s important that we get the appropriate legislative framework in place with comprehensive mandates to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks and the protection of biodiversity.”
The meeting opens at Te Papa in Wellington on Tuesday 14th February at 10.30am after a formal powhiri.
Please note that the meeting is closed to media, though media may attend the event (by arrangement) for the time up to and including the Minister’s speech opening the meeting.
For further information (including the meeting agenda and timetable) visit: www.southpacificrfmo.org
South Pacific RFMO Communications Manager
Telephone: (04) 819 4237 or 027 208 9453