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Polynesian Countries Cooperate For Fisheries

GENERAL - Senior representatives of the Fisheries Administrations of Cook Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga have concluded a successful round of cooperation talks in Auckland, building on the signature of TeVakaMoana Arrangement (TVMA), in January.

“TVMA has formalised existing cooperation and lays a foundation for improved collaboration in fisheries. A core focus of this work is securing and realising the sustainable benefits and interests that TeVakaMoana participants have, and aspire to have, in highly migratory fisheries, throughout the Pacific," said current Chair Mr Peter Graham, of the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources.

The meeting in Auckland provided an opportunity to discuss strategies, confirm a work programme and map out next steps, including in advance of this year’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Hawaii, said Mr Graham.

"By cooperating and drawing on our collective strengths we are more likely to achieve our sustainable development aspirations. Everyone has something to contribute.

"Fisheries are a significant cornerstone for our economic future. This work is critical. Some of our Participants are the smallest of small island developing states in the Pacific region, and it’s vital that their development rights and interests are protected, and are able to be realised.

"We recognise the need for TVM cooperation to secure our interests, and the need to cooperate with others, who also have interest in the shared Pacific fisheries. Closer cooperation in order to ensure we can all get equitable and sustainable benefits is going to be a key to this."

Mr Graham outlined some of the key outcomes from the meeting:

  1. Agreement on a comprehensive work programme and governance structure and consideration of a draft programme design, presented by the New Zealand Aid Programme, to support the TVM work programme.

  2. TVM are considering the implementation of zone based limits for albacore, skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tunas and swordfish, in order to preserve and protect TVM participants’ interests in these fisheries and to fulfil our international obligations. We are also working towards ensuring we have a solid foundation for developing future measures for these stocks, including within WCPFC.

  3. Work to identify ways to enhance the returns from fisheries to TVM economies by way of access, harvesting, supply, processing, transportation, marketing, creation of employment opportunities or otherwise.

  4. TVM Participants made further progress on a draft sub-regional Niue Treaty Subsidiary Arrangement called TeVaka Toa Arrangement (TVTA). TVTA is significant because of our shared interests in the southern long-line fishery, and concerns about the level of illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. TVM participant cooperation to date has resulted in quick cooperative action and substantial penalties from IUU fishing vessel operators.

  5. We expect that TVTA will take this cooperation to a new level, and strengthen our ability to achieve even stronger results in this area, including in deterring IUU fishers. TVTA has been developed specifically for our subregional context. However in saying this, it’s also been pleasing to note the way that TVTA has informed and is compatible with work underway at a regional level to develop a regional Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement. Next steps are for officials to finalise the draft TVTA, which we can then put forward for Ministerial endorsement. We hope that TVTA can signed by Ministers in July 2011.

  6. TVM Participants also took the opportunity to discuss WCPFC related issues. It’s obvious to us that there are a number of items up for discussion at the WCPFC meeting in December where TVM participants have common interests. These include stock-related measures, the issue of increasing costs, and the effectiveness of management measures. We will be looking at ways that we can progress work on these items between now and the WCPFC meeting, to ensure we get the best possible outcomes.

  7. TVM Participants have agreed to establish a common web-portal which will set out information about TVM Participants work. It is hoped that this will be set up and running before Christmas, and will serve as a communication platform for TVM and third parties.

the Fish Site Editor

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