[Da Nang, Vietnam, Nov 28- Dec 3, 2022] – The 19th Annual session of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC 19) “the Commission” is held in the Royal Lotus Hotel, Da Nang, Vietnam from the 28th November – 3rd December 2022. Tonga’s delegation to the Annual session of the Commission meeting this year is led by Dr. Tuíkolongahau Halafihi (CEO for Fisheries) and accompany by Mr. George Vete (Project Manager, Tongafish Pathway project), Lavinia Vaipuna (Head of Offshore Fisheries Section), Mele Átuekaho (Deputy CEO) and Kilisitina Ákimeta (Media Officer).
The objective of the Convention of the WCPFC is “to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and central Pacific Ocean in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement” Tonga ratified the Convention of the WCPFC in 2003 before it enter into force in 2004. The main purpose of the Annual session of the Commission is provided under the mandate of the Commission which is to “ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the tuna fishery resources, of highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean for present and future generations”.
The WCPFC19 hold this week was preceded by a Special Forum Fisheries Agency 125 (FFC125) of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) member countries in which Tonga is a member. The Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) meeting is the decision-making body of the FFA which responsible for providing policy guidance to the FFA and its’ member countries including Tonga. Prior to the Annual session of the Commission each year, a Special FFC meeting is held to finalize and consolidate the priorities and positions of the FFA member countries on matters to be tabled in the Commission’s meeting in each year.
At the FFC125 prior to the WCPFC19, the FFA members agreed to put forward to the Commission’s Annual session ten (10) key priorities and expected outcomes from FFA member countries in which six (6) are of key important to the management of the tuna fishery in Tonga:
- To agree a focused process for South Pacific Albacore in 2023 to improve the management of this fishery, including agreement to review the management objective and TRP;
- Climate Change and its impact on the tuna fishery as a standing agenda for the Annual session of the Commission and its subsidiaries committees;
- To adopt a strengthened Southwest Pacific Swordfish measure;
- Establishing a Harvest Strategy for Key Fisheries and Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) to meet the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification;
- Enhance existing CMMs to combat Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) in Tonga and the region;
- Data Collection: Electronic Reporting (ER) and Electronic Monitoring (EM) of fishing activities.
Tonga’s participation in the Annual session of the Commission each year provide a clear indication of the high priority of the fisheries sector and the management of the highly migratory species to the Government of Tonga. It is also an opportunity for Tonga to raise priority issues in relating to the management of the tuna resources in our fisheries waters as well as holding bilateral meetings with other Commission members to support Tonga in the development of the tuna fisheries resources in our waters.
For more information, please contact:
Kilisitina Akimeta, Ministry of Fisheries, Tonga