Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nauru Ministerial Statement to 2010 Western Pacific Tuna Commission Meeting

The following statement was delivered by the Hon. Roland Kun, Minister for Fisheries of the Republic of Nauru, to the 7th Meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission on Monday 6th December 2010 in Ko Olina, Hawaii.

Mr Chairman, as one of the smallest members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Nauru wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the fundamental principle of the Commission – that of ensuring that tuna stocks remain sustainable.

Distinguished Colleagues, I do not intend to speak at great length. I just want to emphasise that Nauru is living up to its commitments, and to urge other members to do the same, particularly in controlling their vessel’s activities on the high seas. It is not a matter of a few fishing companies being impacted - the very future of Nauru’s economy is immensely affected by the collective decisions that we make here. We take the whole tuna fishery management process very seriously.

Mr Chairman, Nauru and other coastal states have made the point many times in the past, that the Western Pacific purse-seine fishery is unusual in comparison to other regional fisheries because fishing occurs mainly within national exclusive economic zones rather than on the high seas. We have national laws that we apply to control fishing effort much more strongly than in other regions, and there is a duty for coastal states to take much greater responsibility for the management of highly migratory fisheries. As such Nauru will continue to support efforts that develop measures for the sustainable utilisation of tuna stocks in the region.

In this region, Parties to the Nauru Agreement are applying their national laws in a harmonised manner to uphold our WCPFC commitments. The level of tuna fishing effort in Nauru’s EEZ was below 2004 levels in 2009. This year, we made the significant step of closing Nauru’s EEZ to bilaterally-licensed purse-seine fishing because we had reached our allowable effort before the end of the licensing period. Mr Chairman, as you would understand this was not an easy decision for our small administration, nonetheless it was a decision made for the benefit of the tuna stocks and our commitment to the principles of this Commission.

Mr Chairman, if the VDS effort limits are treated as hard limits, we feel that the VDS is the most appropriate way of controlling the catch of tuna fisheries in our part of the region – a region where most of the fishing takes place in national waters of developing small-island states. Of course we would prefer catch limits, but they would be too difficult to implement at our current stage of development and thus would run the risk of being ineffective.

Nauru does not favour capacity limits. We have been down that road in the past and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement moved towards effort limits when they adopted the Vessel Day Scheme.

Mr Chairman, I could expound at length about our position on all the issues under consideration here this week, but in the interests of time I will leave it there. My delegation wishes you the best of good fortune in achieving definite agreements by the end of this critically important meeting.


Hon Roland Kun
Minister for Fisheries
Government of Nauru

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