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Pacific fisheries convention comes into force

Pacific fisheries convention comes into force

Prime Minister Helen Clark has welcomed the entry into force of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention. The Convention came into force on Saturday, 19 June.

Negotiated in the period 1997-2000, the Convention provides for the conservation and sustainable management of the region’s valuable tuna fishery - currently worth $US2 billion annually. Some eight percent of all employment in Forum island countries is fisheries-related.

The Convention also establishes a Commission to manage and conserve the highly migratory tuna fisheries of the region. Its first meeting will be held in December this year. A secretariat will be based in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

“I’m delighted the Convention is now operational, and that this has happened during New Zealand’s year as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum,” Helen Clark said.

“This Convention will secure the future of the Pacific’s key tuna resource. It reflects the vision of Forum leaders, who had the foresight to start this process back in 1994.

“Tuna is an important source of revenue and food for the Pacific. Conservation and sustainable management of tuna is vital to the development of the region.”

Fourteen Pacific Island Forum nations have ratified the Convention, and entities that fish in the region - including Japan, US, China, Korea, Taiwan and the EU - have signalled their intention to ratify or accede soon.

New Zealand has been active in developing the Convention, and ratified it in December 2003. The Convention area includes New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which lies at the southern end of the range of the region’s tuna stocks. Sustainable management of these stocks is essential for the health of New Zealand’s tuna fisheries.

The New Zealand Fisheries (Western and Central Pacific Ocean Highly Migratory Fish Stocks) Regulations 2003, regulating vessel registration in New Zealand and reporting requirements under the Convention, are now in force.

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