Da Nang 4 Dec 2022: The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) held its 19, session annual commission meeting in Da Nang Vietnam from November 27-Dec 3, 2022. Solomon Islands high-level delegation to the commission meeting this year comprised of senior executive and senior management officials of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. The delegation comprised of the Deputy Secretary Technical –Ms Rosalie Masu as the Head of Delegation, Director Fisheries- Mr. Edward Honiwala, Deputy Director offshore fisheries- Mr Francis Tofuakalo and Chief Fisheries Officer- International Policy, Mr. David Fatai.
In the build up towards this year’s meeting, Solomon Islands collaborated with PNA and FFA members throughout the year to formulate agreed positions and new proposals that would help shape the management of tuna fisheries within the Western and Central and Pacific region.
Each year, the WCPFC commission annual meeting convenes to establish new Conservation and Management Measures (CMMs), as well as address issues on the implementation of existing CMMs.
The annual commission meeting also serves as a platform where members (Distant Water Fishing Nations and Pacific Islands coastal States) discuss concerns and find solutions on the commitment by the members to adhere to rules established by the commission in terms of the fishing operations and activities within the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), which, Solomon Islands EEZ is a part of.
Amongst the various priorities and proposals raised by FFA and PNA members, Solomon Islands placed high importance on the following issues: i) adoption of a skipjack management procedure, ii) harvest strategies, iii) amendments to electronic reporting CMM to extend to the high seas, iv) South Pacific Albacore road map, v) review of the Compliance Monitoring Scheme (CMS), and vi) the revision of the CMM on the South West Pacific Swordfish.
At the conclusion of the meeting on December 3, Director for Fisheries Mr. Edward Honiwala has reflected on the outcomes as one, which had come to fruition.
“We have been here for two weeks and we were delighted that our collective FFA and PNA voices have been heard,” he said.
“In addition, despite the complexity of the negotiations and discussions, a number of substantive issues, we were able to make progress in the direction that we together as FFA members and PNA members want,” Honiwala said.
A key achievement for 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 tropical tuna measure that will be progressed in the coming years.
The skipjack management procedure and the harvest strategy work is linked with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification that Solomon Islands has over its purse seine and longline fisheries ensuring that our tuna exports continue to attract premium prices at international markets.
Not only does the skipjack management procedure supports the economic elements that were sought, but the broader management objectives are also achieved through ensuring that harvesting skipjack tuna fisheries is done responsibly to sustainable levels that the fishery can support.
It is also important to note that the key tuna fish stocks, skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye, and albacore are healthy and overfishing is not occurring as per the advice from the scientific provider, SPC.
“This gives us the confidence and policy space to push for decisions that provide the balance between fisheries management and development for tuna fisheries in our region”.
“Overall our approach towards the issues negotiated and progressed this week 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,” Honiwala said.
The Solomon Islands delegation expressed delight, noting that much have been achieved at the meeting that aligns with the vision for our fisheries.