RP hosts international meet on tuna fisheries
() - August 6, 2006 - 12:00am
Close to 100 fish scientists and experts from 16 coastal states in the central and western Pacific Ocean including representatives from various international and regional fisheries organizations and environmental NGOs are here in the Philippines to discuss the long term conservation and management of one of the region’s important resources — tuna.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Malcolm I. Sarmiento Jr. said all the necessary preparations had been undertaken by the agency to ensure the successful conduct of the ongoing second meeting of the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission or WCPFC which winds up on Aug. 18 in Makati City.

Sarmiento, who is also appointed as the permanent representative of the Philippines to the WCPFC said that the two-week event would cover presentations of scientific papers on tuna fisheries to include stock assessment, methods, ecosystem and by-catch, fishing technology, statistics, biology, status of the stocks and management information, by-catch mitigation, data and information, as well as discussions on matters regarding cooperation with other organizations, special requirements of developing states, future work program and budget and administrative matters.

WCPFC Executive Director Andrew Wright said this year’s meeting is one of the commission’s major projects aimed at addressing the significant gaps in the regional understanding of tuna and levels of tuna harvest in the waters of the region to ensure its long term sustainability.

Wright said there is a need to improve the quality of scientific information that is collected from the western and central Pacific Ocean, particularly in the waters of Indonesia and the Philippines which currently account for 25 percent of the total tuna catch.

"The fact is we only have limited data from which to be able to accurately estimate catches from this region undermines efforts to establish effective conservation and management measures designed to support long term sustained use of this important resource," he stressed.

He said France recently pledged financial support of $40,000 for the project. Other nations who had also provided funding support for this initiative include Chinese-Taipei, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Sarmiento also expressed appreciation for the support, saying "while the short term priority is to improve the statistics of the region’s tuna fisheries, in the longer term, the country will also need support to build capacity to implement conservation and management measures compatible with those adopted by the WCPFC in our own waters."

The Fisheries Commission is a regional fisheries management organization tasked to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks which include the tunas in the waters of the region in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement.

To date, the WCPFC roster counts 26 coastal states and other states fishing in that region to include Australia, Canada, China, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, France, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Republic of Palau, Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Independent State of Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Republic of Vanuatu. Chinese-Taipei also signed in as a fishing entity member in the convention area.

The Commission was established after the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean in 2000.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES DIRECTOR MALCOLM I CHINESE-TAIPEI CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF HIGHLY MIGRATORY FISH STOCKS COOK ISLANDS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ANDREW WRIGHT FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA FIJI ISLANDS FISH STOCKS AGREEMENT FISHERIES PACIFIC OCEAN
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