Honolulu, Hawaii- The outgoing chair of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) spoke from the heart as she called on nations responsible for managing half the world’s fisheries to consider future generations.
Widely-respected Chair Rhea Moss-Christian, who is completing her 4-year term, told delegates from the Pacific and distant water fishing nations that it is their responsibility to ensure the sustainability of tuna stocks as they meet this week in Honolulu.
In her keynote address opening of the Commission session, Moss-Christian told members their deliberations could impact the livelihood and the future of nations.
“Compromise and sacrifice do not come easily, this is the nature of multilateral process. In this commission, collaboration impacts livelihoods and our future generations and the impacts are real,” she said
“What we discuss here has broad and potentially significant effects out there,” Christian-Morris said.
“But our mission is noble and …we are all stakeholders.”
In an earlier interview, Moss-Christian said 2018 was a busy year for the Commission.
“We are expecting heavy discussions on the tropical tuna this year,’ she told reporters on Saturday.
The Tropical Tuna Measure sets fishing rules and influences for tuna worth more than US$4.4 billion annually.
Parts of the current measure, which covers skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna, are due to expire at the end of the year.
In an earlier statement the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) said they want to see the WCPFC act on the expiring provisions in the tropical tuna measure but not increase the catch. This means increasing the dollar value of the tuna instead of allowing increased catch by fleets.
Ms Moss-Christian said commission members were expected to continue discussions on harvest strategies, which would provide comprehensive plans for keeping tuna stocks in a healthy state.
The main proposal from the WCPFC secretariat is that the Commission establish a new Science-Management Dialogue that would allow delegates to the annual Commission meeting to discuss harvest strategies and arrive better briefed on the science behind fisheries.
Work has also been progressing in other areas. Moss-Christian said that prior to this year’s annual negotiations work had been done through working groups on the Compliance Monitoring Scheme, electronic monitoring and reporting, Pacific albacore stocks, shark and ray protection and management of FADs.
“These are important issues that will be addressed next week,” she said.
The WCPFC will also prioritize discussion on the South Pacific albacore target reference point, which will start the process of putting the albacore fishery on an economically sustainable footing.
Moss-Christian said she was more confident about the nations reaching consensus on several measures this week.
She made history by serving a four-year term as chairperson of WCPFC and she said she feels good about her last term at the helm of the tuna body.
“I feel very good about my last term this year, its time for me to step aside and let someone else step in,” she told reporters.