Chile commits to South Pacific fisheries management
14 June 2005
Chile has committed to join with New Zealand and Australia to lead the development of a regional fisheries management agreement that will help protect high seas biodiversity, Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.
"Chile is a key coastal state in the eastern South Pacific," said Mr Benson-Pope. "At a meeting held last week with New Zealand officials, the Chilean Under-Secretary of Fisheries committed to join with New Zealand and Australia to develop a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation to cover non-tuna fisheries in the South Pacific region. This includes species like orange roughy, alfonsino, oreo dories and jack mackerel.
"It is vital that we secure international buy-in and corporation so that management measures are effective and binding on all states with vessels fishing in the area," said Mr Benson-Pope. "A key role of the new organisation will be to manage the adverse impacts of fishing activity on biodiversity, including the seafloor.
"Bottom trawling can take a heavy toll on marine life in vulnerable areas and it is in everybody's interests to improve management of the practice throughout the world."
New Zealand and Australia began taking action early this year to establish the new regional fisheries management organisation, which will plug gaps in the legal framework for the conservation and management of high seas fisheries.
"The most practical solution globally to problems caused by deep sea bottom trawling is to have more effective management of high seas areas," Mr Benson-Pope said. "New Zealand places a great deal of significance on fisheries cooperation in the Pacific and Southern Oceans. Our desire is to work with other nations in the region to promote international 'best practice' in fisheries management, and the protection of the environment."
The next stage will come in February 2006, when New Zealand will host the first inter-governmental meeting with interested states, to discuss the establishment of the new organisation.
"Until the new organisation is up and running, New Zealand will seek agreement with other states on interim measures to manage the existing fisheries and impacts of fishing activity on the environment," Mr Benson-Pope said.
Fact Sheet: Establishing an RFMO
- Bottom trawling is a widely used fishing method employed by at least 44 fishing nations.
- NGOs have been leading a proposal for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling for a number of years.
- There has been no commitment from fishing nations to a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling, and instead states have focused on the need for improved high seas governance through such instruments as Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).
- New Zealand and Australia have recognised the gap in the international legal framework in terms of conservation and management of non-tuna species in the South Pacific.
- At the FAO Ministerial meeting on 12 March 2005, New Zealand and Australian Ministers announced their intention to commence discussions on the establishment of a new regional organisation for the conservation and management of South Pacific non-tuna fisheries.
- Chile has agreed to also take a lead role in this initiative.
- The western and southern boundaries of the RFMO would abut the South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement and the CCAMLR boundaries. Further discussion is required on northern and eastern boundaries.
- The RFMO would ensure long-term sustainability of fish stocks and address the impacts of fishing on biodiversity.
- The RFMO should reflect "best practice" in international fisheries management and be based on the principles outlined in UN Fish Stocks Agreement.
- Participation should be open to all states with an interest, including coastal states, states with a historical fishing interest, states with a potential fishing interest.
- New Zealand will take on the role of interim secretariat during the development of the RFMO, including setting up a website.
- The first meeting is scheduled to take place in New Zealand from 14 - 17 February 2006. Invitations will be distributed to all countries with a likely interest in September 2005. Relevant international & regional fisheries organisations, NGOs and industry groups will be invited as observers.
- While an RFMO is being established, New Zealand is supportive of the establishment and implementation of interim measures.