The Solomon Islands delegation to the recent 19th Annual Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in Vietnam accomplished their mission in making sure the country gained maximum benefits from our Tuna fisheries following complex negotiations with the regions Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFN).
The delegation headed by Deputy Secretary Technical Ms. Rosalie Masu comprised Senior Executive and Management Officials from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources including the Director of Fisheries Mr. Edward Honiwala, Deputy Director Offshore fisheries Mr. Francis Tofuakalo and Chief Fisheries Officer- International Policy, Mr. David Fatai.
Hosted in the City of Da Nang in Vietnam from November 27 to December 3, the 19th annual session gathered together parties from Distant Water Fishing Nations and Pacific Islands Coastal States supported by the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).
Amongst the key achievements for Solomon Islands including PNA Members is the adoption of the first- ever management skipjack procedure – a PNA proposal, which is a significant component for the harvest strategy and the tropical tuna measure that will be progressed in the coming years.
The skipjack management procedure and the harvest strategy is linked with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification that Solomon Islands has over its purse seine and longline fisheries that ensures its tuna exports continue to attract premium prices in international markets.
Not only does the skipjack management procedure supports the economic elements that were sought, but the broader management objectives were also achieved by ensuring harvesting skipjack tuna fisheries meets sustainable levels that the fishery supports.
“This gives us confidence and a policy space to push for decisions that provide the balance between fisheries management and development for tuna fisheries in our region,” said Director of Fisheries Edward Honiwala at the conclusion of negotiations last week.
Honiwala added that the overall approach they took towards the issues negotiated and progressed draws on the broader vision that the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has in place.
“And that is to protect our rights in the fishery, maximize economic benefits from our resources and most importantly to ensure our fish stocks and marine resources are sustainable for the future. Moreover, we are delighted that what we achieved aligns with the vision for our fisheries,” Honiwala said.
Prior to the Vietnam meeting, Solomon Islands has collaborated with PNA and FFA members throughout the year to formulate agreed positions and new proposals that shape the management of tuna fisheries within the Western and Central and Pacific region. Each year, the WCPFC commission convene the annual meeting to establish new Conservation and Management Measures (CMMs), as well as address issues on the implementation of existing CMMs.
The annual commission meeting serves as a platform where parties reach solutions on agreed commitments by members to adhere to its established rules in relation to fishing operations and activities within the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) region that covers Solomon Islands EEZ.
Amongst some issues proposed by FFA and PNA members last week and firmly supported by Solomon Islands included the;
- The adoption of a Skipjack Management Procedure,
- Harvest strategies,
- Amendments to Electronic Reporting of CMM to extend to the high seas,
- The South Pacific Albacore Road Map,
- The review of the Compliance Monitoring Scheme (CMS) and
- The revision of the CMM on the South West Pacific Swordfish.