Far Seas Fishing Countries Are Pressed to Change

Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) adopted measures to address with special requirements of Small Island Developing States and Territories (SIDs) in relation to the conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Convention Area at its regular meeting held in Dec. 2013.

The Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean clearly states that WCPFC shall give full recognition to the positions of islands countries, for which Tuna resource is an important base of their economic developments and food security, and accepts the special requirements for SIDs.  However, those points had been laid out only as in principles, and WCPFC had not made any positive action to implement measures to meet with the requirements of SIDs.

Through this adaptation, WCPFC members are now required to address to the special requirements of the SIDs comprehensively and specifically.  This should gather much attention as it drives changes on far seas tuna fishery by the developed countries.

Key points of the new measures adopted are WCPFC members to cooperate 1) to enhance capacity for conservation and management of fisheries by SIDS and 2) to increase further development of tuna fisheries and related industries of SIDs The targets to improve and raise capabilities of SIDs to improve management include gathering of statistics of catch data, analysis, and training of experts on stock assessment.

This is meaningful for all member countries because those measures will result in to improve resource management capability of WCPFC and to secure sustainable use of resources.  On the other hand, supports for development of tuna fishery by SIDs extend their fishing operations into the high seas have different meaning.

Such cooperation would be made by developed far seas fishing countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and S. Korea.  However, implementing such supports to SIDs would certainly bring about impacts to their own far seas fisheries so that the developed far seas fishing countries need to extend their cooperation while considering the future of their own fisheries.

The following statement in the measure makes member countries to keep aware of the impacts clearly.  “WCPFC member countries make effort so that SIDs’ Tuna fishery makes at least 50% of the total catch and value of highly migratory fish stock in the western and central Pacific Ocean.  To achieve the goal, developed countries make supportive investments and corporation to SIDs.”

This contains detailed objectives. The objective, for example, includes “maintaining and increasing employment opportunities for people in SIDs”, “promotion of landing, trans-shipment, and processing of the products in SIDs,” and “promotion of purchase of fishing equipments and supplies.”

In addition, the statement draws “developed members shall endeavor to take appropriate action to eliminate barriers to trade in fish and fisheries products.

Moreover, developed countries are required to report to WCPFC how they implement the measures every year, and the WCPFC reviews the progresses.  The system has a mechanism not to leave the adopted measures as simply as an object to be focused on.  Since the progress is reviewed every year, it would be just a matter of time that the objectives are to become binding requirements.

The trend to develop tuna fishery of SIDs is to be strengthened further on the background of ever-increasing desires from SIDs, and there seems to be no avenue left open to escape from the trend.  Developed countries should cope with a challenge to reduce their excessive fishing effort but to increase that of SIDs. There are limited options left for developed countries to choose.

Going under such progress, it seems that far seas tuna fishery by developed countries cannot help but to be changed.  Some countries have been shifting their operation from large long-line vessels to smaller vessels, and they appear to do so as considering the trend pushed by SIDs.

(This is a translation from a column in Minato Fisheries Daily of Japan.)