South Pacific regional fishing progress pleasing
14 September 2007
Minister of Fisheries Jim Anderton is very pleased with the progress on negotiating the Convention text for managing and conserving non-tuna fisheries in the high seas area of the South Pacific Ocean.
The fourth international meeting to establish the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) was held in Noumea, New Caledonia, this week (September 10-14). The meeting was independently chaired by New Zealander Bill Mansfield.
The purpose of the meeting was to progress negotiations on the Convention text, which will form the legal basis for fisheries conservation and management on the high seas.
“I’m very pleased with the broad support for incorporating the precautionary and ecosystem approach in the Convention text. The precautionary approach advocates that fisheries managers should consider long term sustainability of a fishery over short term fishing opportunities, especially when information about a fishery is uncertain. The ecosystem approach advocates taking into account the environmental impacts of fishing. These are both a very sound approach to managing fisheries.”
Over 100 participants from around the world attended the five-day meeting.
“The world is closely watching the development of this RFMO and how it responds to the recent international calls to develop best practice for high seas fisheries management.”
When the Convention is successfully negotiated the SPRFMO will manage non-highly migratory fisheries in the high seas, including deep sea fish stocks such as orange roughy and pelagic species such as jack mackerel.
As it may be several years before the Convention text becomes legally binding, voluntary interim measures were agreed for bottom fishing and pelagic fisheries in the previous SPRFMO meeting in Reñaca, Chile, from 30 April to 4 May. Further interim standards on data and vessel satellite monitoring arrangements were adopted in the Noumea meeting.
“A method adopted this week to assess environmental impact is the first of its kind from an RFMO and will support the bottom fishing interim measures. They are a particularly progressive step towards an environmental approach to managing these fisheries.”
Mr Anderton said New Zealand is taking its responsibilities very seriously for managing the high seas in the wider South Pacific.
“The SPRFMO Interim Secretariat is being set up in Wellington and Dr Robin Allen from the American Tropical Tuna Commission has been appointed as Executive Secretary. He is due to start in late October.
“Dr Allen’s priorities will be to provide the administrative support for the implementation of SPRFMO’s interim measures, including managing data, documents and a website, and organising meetings.”