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South Pacific fisheries future looks positive

Media release from Ministry of Fisheries
17 February 2006

South Pacific fisheries future looks positive

A meeting aiming to establish a formal organisation for the conservation and management of South Pacific high seas fisheries has been "hugely successful," according to the head of the New Zealand delegation, Stan Crothers.

Mr. Crothers is also the Ministry of Fisheries' deputy CEO. His comments followed the conclusion of the major international meeting in Wellington today.

"We aimed to build a consensus among those taking part, and all the countries at the meeting have now committed to work towards the establishment of a South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation," Mr. Crothers said. "From that point of view it's been hugely successful."

The meeting, organised by Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Department of Conservation, along with co-sponsors Australia and Chile, drew delegates from 29 countries and
21 inter- and non-governmental organisations.

A South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) would address a gap in governance for a vast area of high seas, from the eastern edge of the South Indian Ocean, across the Tasman and over to the EEZs of South America, Mr. Crothers said. Currently there is little or no control over fishing methods or management of non-highly migratory fish stocks (such as orange roughy, squid and mackerel) in the area.

"We had hoped to initiate interim measures to address some urgent issues, such as the adverse impact of bottom trawling, but progress in this area wasn't as rapid as we would have liked," said Mr. Crothers.
"However, there is at least now a process in place for introducing interim measures. We have to remember that although New Zealand, Australia and Chile have been discussing a South Pacific RFMO for over a year, most of the delegates around the table this week were discussing it in detail for the first time."

Mr. Crothers said that a science working group had been established to gather data on high seas fish stocks in the area, as well as the status of the marine habitat's vulnerability. Such information would place the organisation in a better position to introduce appropriate interim measures, he said.

"The Minister's announcement of a ban on bottom trawling in a third of our own Exclusive Economic Zone this week will, I hope, encourage this body to follow that lead," said Mr. Crothers. "In the meantime I'm extremely heartened by the progress this week and look forward to more when we reconvene in Australia in November."


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