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Pacific Regional heads stand up against pirate fishing

Fiji Daily Post 13-May-2009 09:03 AM

A MOVE by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) that include the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu have come down hard on pirate fishing. They now support the closure of all high seas areas to clamp down on pirate fishing and the move has been applauded by Greenpeace. Greenpeace Oceans Team Leader Lagi Toribau said in a statement that Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) member countries should now use this precedent to increase their bargaining power to achieve closure of all the high seas pockets.

“The remaining two pockets are bound by Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and to the central Pacific high seas bound by Kiribati, Cook Islands and French Polynesia EEZs,” he said. Speaking from the 70th Forum Fisheries Commission Meeting in Niue, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, Josua Turaganivalu said this could be accomplished through an agreement by these countries similar to the PNA third implementing arrangement, which closed off the first two high seas pockets.

Turaganivalu said PNA countries were showing leadership and sent a signal to the world that the Pacific region was serious about sustainably managing the world’s largest remaining tuna stocks. Toribau said this bold move should be commended by FFA members to Pacific Island Forum leaders for endorsement.

“An agreement by Pacific leaders at the Forum in August would signal for regional solidarity as stated in the Leaders Vava’u Declaration in 2007,” Toribau said.

Greenpeace has been campaigning for the closure of the high seas pockets to halt pirate fishing in the region and to reverse the declining trend of the regional bigeye and yellowfin stocks.

Creating high seas marine reserves will also be essential to help build resilience in this vulnerable region to climate change. In May last year the eight PNA countries signed a historic arrangement that stopped fishing in two high seas areas by imposing a licensing condition on vessels accessing their waters.

This move triggered the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to agree to a closure of the high seas pockets to purse seine fishing vessels.

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