Pacific nations extend RP conservation and management measures for tropical tunas until 2015

OBTAINING consensus from member countries of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) for an extension of the Philippines’ conservation and management measures for tropical tuna fishing in the recently concluded 9th meeting which ended last December 6 here in Manila, members of the Philippine delegation were very happy as this vote would mean support in maintaining the health of the tuna spawning grounds of the country.

The WCPFC is composed of 24 member countries, 7 territories and 11 cooperating non-member countries that bind together to ensure the proper management of the tunas in the western and central areas of the Pacific Ocean.

The Philippines’ conservation and management measure was approved during the 8th Regular annual meeting of the WCPFC last March 30  granting its fishing vessels special access to High Seas Pocket No. 1 from October this year to end February 28, 2013.

Fisheries Director Atty. Asis G. Perez said that the agency requires the strict compliance of fishing vessels to the regulations it had set under the Fisheries Administrative Order. No. 245 s. 2012. These include the installation of vessel monitoring devices, the use of appropriate net mesh size, and the provision of a fisheries observer, among others.

“If in the last meeting we were able to bring home the tuna; this year, the Philippines was able to keep  the tuna home,” Perez added.

In its position paper, the Philippines indicated that the fishing effort in its territorial sea – the archipelagic waters and EEZ resulted in the harvesting of juveniles.  With the access provided, a substantial reduction in fishing effort will be achieved.

Moreover, the Philippines also pointed out that the Commission should ensure that the measures established should not result in transferring, directly or indirectly, a disproportionate burden of conservation action onto its member countries.

Head of Delegation, Sec. Lualhati Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority said that this new agreement effectively grants to the Philippines access to 36 fishing vessels.  These vessels are allowed to continue fishing operations in high seas pocket 1 from March 2013 to February 28, 2014.

Antonino is hopeful that with this extension, tuna production in the country would rebound to its 2008 level. The country’s tuna production dipped by at least 70,000MT in the past 3 years due to the closure in tuna fishing in the high seas by the WCPFC.

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