21 May 2008

Eight Pacific nations applauded for new fisheries management measures

8:43 pm on 21 May 2008

Environmentalists have hailed a decision by eight Pacific nations to block tuna fishing in pockets of international waters in the region.

A meeting in Palau of 17 Pacific nations, with the Forum Fisheries Agency, noted the plan to stop boats from fishing for tuna in two large areas of international waters.

The areas of water, one north of Papua New Guinea and the other further east, are identified as having been plundered by tuna fisherman acting beyond the restrictions of nearby countries.

The Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu agreed on new measures to protect these areas.

There'll be a catch retention scheme, no fishing with fish aggregating devices, as well as moves towards 100 % observation on purse seine vessels.

The countries have also decided not to license vessels that fish in exclusive economic zones for operating in the high seas.

These measures, designed to ensure the sustainability of yellow fin and blue eye will come into effect from June 15.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Jason Collins has called it an historic moment in fisheries management in the region.

But he says Australia needs to take more of a leadership role in ensuring that these international waters are closed to fishing.