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Tokelau meeting approves south Albacore Tuna plan

FFA ministers endorse Atafu Declaration

Fisheries Ministers in the Pacific have endorsed moves they hope would lead to better management of the south Pacific albacore tuna fisheries both in their 200 miles exclusive economic zones and in the adjacent high seas. First steps were sealed in the remote coral atoll of Atafu in Tokelau last month at the 10th Pacific Fisheries Ministerial Meeting of island countries that are members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.

To be called the Tokelau Arrangement, the communiqué of the two day meeting resolved among others that limits on the allocation of “South Pacific albacore longline fishing opportunities in our Exclusive Economic Zones in a way that promotes the economic viability of the whole fishery, particularly in support of locallybased enterprises” should continue. It said this could involve a framework for the implementation of zone-based management across most of the range of the fishery.”

This proposed framework could be applied “by FFA members and non-FFA coastal territories,” and that it should also provide a mechanism “for improving coastal states’ rights over the disposition of fisheries in their own zones.” Allowing room for compromises, the Fisheries Ministers said in their communiqué that the “aspirations of coastal states and territories yet to develop south Pacific albacore fisheries in their EEZs” should be recognised. In addition to placing controls in their own EEZs, the Fisheries ministers felt that their efforts should be matched by long distant water fishing nations who join them as members of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) whose boats fish in both their EEZs and in the adjacent high seas.

“Taking this Declaration as evidence of our earnest resolve to establish a comprehensive south Pacific albacore management arrangement, to work together as a matter of urgency to develop a proposal to WCPFC11 for a Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) for South Pacific Albacore that would provide for a catch limit for the entire stock; take account of the EEZ-based fishing opportunities to be established under the Tokelau Arrangement; and place a limit on the high seas component of the fishery,” declares the communiqué of the 10th Pacific Fisheries Ministerial Meeting.

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