Pacific ministers in NZ to consider fishery quota management
Pacific ministers meet in New Zealand this week to look at a catch based scheme to manage fish stocks sustainably.
Fisheries ministers from a number of Pacific countries gather in Wellington this week where the virtues of New Zealand's catch based fisheries management system will be extolled.
New Zealand offered the region US$34 million last year to support the development of a catch-based system and this is the motivation for the ministers' visit.
Organisations such as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, which controls a vast area in the central Pacific, swears by the benefits of its Vessel Day Scheme, under which it sells fishing days to distant-water nation fleets.
But New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully says a catch based system provides the information needed to control illegal fishing and more effectively manage the resource.
The director general of the Forum Fisheries Agency, James Movick, says it is not about shoe horning everyone into the same system.
JAMES MOVICK: What the roadmap had said was that, generally speaking, where we can see benefits in moving to catch-based system we might seek to do so over a 10-year period given that there are some theoretical, conservation, as well as economic advantages that might accrue to those. But it really then has to be applied in a context of each of the three fisheries specifically. Now the PNA skipjack fishery is certainly more advanced, with its PNA vessel day scheme, to the extent that it meets the needs of those parties for conservation and economic development, and I don't think that there is a requirement that they move away from it rather than an encouragement that we look to improve upon the management processes that are agreed by the parties to those three subregional fisheries arrangements with a view to maximising the benefits we get from both conservation and economic development, not shoe-horning everybody into one single system, and that's absolutely not the intention at all.
DON WISEMAN: The FFA, given that members of the PNA are also members of the FFA, you are happy with their fishery to stay with the VDS system?
JM: Well they've got to make the decision, the members of the vessel day scheme arrangement, they are the ones who need to make those decisions for that fishery. It's not the FFA's decision or anybody else's. The parties to each management arrangement need to make those and they are the ones authorised to make it - we will continue to support them in whatever they do. In terms of looking at possibly improvements: yes, we can have a role in the conversations around that, but at the end of the day each of the contracting parties to each arrangement must be the ones that make the decisions with regard to their rights.
DW: The reason I ask is that the director general of the PNA, Transform Aqorau, has been very critical of this idea to go towards a catch-based system. He says it would be far too difficult to apply in the Pacific, and that through VDS, the members of the PNA have seen a dramatic increase in their incomes from fisheries.
JM: That is absolutely correct in that they have seen a dramatic increase, and there are a whole range of complexities that have to be considered, you know, moving management arrangements under the vessel day scheme into any other arrangements. So yes, I think he's quite right to say that one has to address all those complexities. And as I've said earlier, you know, at the end of the day after analysis is done of ways in which there might be different forms of management arrangements, it may be very likely that at the end of the day we'll say the current arrangements we have in place are the most practical and cost-efficient at the present time, that's a conclusion that all of these three management arrangements will be able to make if that's how it appears after close objective analysis.
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