WCPFC’s Eleventh Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC11) / by Francisco Blaha

The WCPFC’s Eleventh Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC11) met in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia on 23-29 September to discuss technical and compliance matters in advance of WCPFC12 (and as always a mix bag)

TCC is responsible for administering the Commission’s Compliance Monitoring Scheme (CMM 2014-07). During the annual TCC meeting a review is conducted in a closed working group session of compliance of Commission members’ and cooperating non-members’ (CCMs) with obligations established in the WCPFC Convention, scientific data requirements, Commission Decisions and Conservation and Management Measures (CMMs). 

TCC11 marked the fifth year of implementation of the Compliance Monitoring Scheme, with several days dedicated to conducting the compliance monitoring review. The compliance of 36 CCMs was reviewed with a priority list of over 100 obligations for 2014 (however the report is password protected :-( )

A three-tiered system of rating compliance was applied for the second year running, where members are rated for each obligation as compliant (green), non-compliant (orange) or priority non-compliant (red) (when a CCM is non-compliant for an obligation for two or more years, is breaching catch limits and/ or is not submitting Annual Reports). If a CCM is in compliance with all assessed obligations, TCC recommends an overall compliant rating to WCPFC. 

Following the compliance monitoring review process, TCC11 developed a Provisional Compliance Monitoring Report to be forwarded to WCPFC12 for consideration which includes a provisional assessment of each CCM’s compliance status and recommendations for corrective action, as well as issues arising during the compliance monitoring review process and requests for assistance and capacity building. 

While CMM 2014-07 includes provisions for responses to non-compliance, including the establishment of a small working group to identify a range of responses to non-compliance, this issue was not progressed by TCC11. Since the current Monitoring Scheme measure expires in 2015, time was also spent during TCC11 to develop proposed text to extend the Scheme into 2016 and beyond. 

No one is dodgy... is all a misunderstanding 

No one is dodgy... is all a misunderstanding 

In previous years, a key TCC concern was continued failure of South Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei and China to provide operational level data, which compromises the ability of the Commission to carry out its compliance functions, as well as reducing the robustness of stock assessments. At WCPFC11, operational level data requirements were included in the CMM on tropical tunas (CMM 2014-01) to help address this issue. TCC11 noted there has been significant progress in the provision of operational data from Korea and China, but further improvements are still required. Further progress is expected in 2016. 

Discussions on the Regional Observer Program touched on the paramount concern for health and safety of observers, particularly in light of the recent case of a US-observer going missing from a Panamanian carrier in Peru, as well as other reported cases of harassment, intimidation and assault. WWF delivered a strong statement to TCC11 about the critical issue of observer health and safety and indicated that it will be pushing for market-based sanctions for companies/fishing vessels who violate observer health and safety. WWF’s position was supported by several WCPFC CCMs. 

TCC11 discussed proposed amendments to existing WCPFC CMMs as well as new CMMs for consideration by WCPFC12.

  • New Zealand proposed that catch data on non-tuna species be subject to mandatory collection under Scientific Data provision Rules.
  • Australia is calling for agreement on a workplan for developing the harvest strategy for key tuna species (CMM 2014-06).
  • Cook Islands (again) is proposing changes to Eastern High Seas Pocket requirements including the prohibition of high seas transhipment in this area (CMM 2010-02).
  • FFA members are proposing an extension of the Charter Notification Scheme for another three years (CMM 2012-05).
  • FFA members and the EU have once-again called for 5% fin:carcass ratio requirement for sharks to be replaced with a requirement that is easier for enforcement and compliance monitoring (e.g. fins remain naturally attached) (CMM 2010-07).
  • FFA members are calling for changes to the South Pacific Albacore measure to address difficulties reviewing the number of vessels ‘actively’ fishing for albacore south of 20⁰S to set a baseline for assessing compliance (given some longline vessels targeting other tuna species/swordfish/ sharks also catch albacore as by-catch) (CMM 2010-05).
  • The US has called for specific requirements for leatherback turtles to be included in the CMM on sea turtles (CMM 2008-03). 

On proposed new CMMs, at the time of TCC11 only one new proposal had been tabled by PNA for establishing a WCPO skipjack target reference point, which is a revision on their 2014 proposal to WCPFC11.

No new proposals tabled by any members on major changes to the existing measure or a proposal for a new measure for skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye, despite this being one of the most contentious and highly-debated measures in recent years. 

However, TCC11 has recommended WCPFC12 address some ambiguities in the text (e.g. defining ’current’ levels) to better facilitate review of compliance with certain requirements.

Also, there are elements that are required to be addressed in 2015 by WCPFC12 including high seas purse seine effort limits, purse seine yellowfin catch limits and longline yellowfin measures.

Additional FAD measures for 2015 and the capacity management work plan may also be discussed. FFA members also met in late October for their annual Management Options Consultation where they usually prepare multiple proposals.

All this info was adapted from FFA's FTIN for the period Sept – Oct 2015 being Volume 8: Issue 5