Regional Fisheries Management Organisations
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says
that all States have the freedom to fish on the high seas.
But that freedom is not absolute. To ensure that over-fishing does
not happen, nations have a duty to cooperate with each other if
their vessels fish in the same area or for the same stocks.
One recognised way of managing this is by setting up regional
fisheries management organisations (RFMOs).
New Zealand is involved with a number of RFMOs, including
the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, the
Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, the
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living
Resources and the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management
Most high seas fisheries are now under the jurisdiction of
an RFMO. However, fishing nations have agreed that these
organisations need to be strengthened and their performance
New Zealand advocates for this work within the United Nations,
and other international bodies, and regionally within the RFMOs.
A recent report – sponsored by the governments of New Zealand,
Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom and WWF International
– has outlined what should be considered as best practice for
these organisations. This includes how they should be set up,
how decisions should be made and how to work with developing
In January 2007, a joint meeting of the five RFMOs that manage
tuna fisheries was held in Kobe, Japan. It was agreed that
improved co-ordination between the RFMOs was needed, along
with improved performance. Performance criteria were agreed
and developed. New Zealand has since promoted these within
the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna.
This proposal was accepted and a performance review began