Solid opening from the Solomon Islands at the WCPFC13 / by Francisco Blaha

You all know I'm very partial to the Solomon Islands, is like a 2nd home to me, and the Tuna town of Noro exemplify what I believe fisheries should be in the Pacific. So I was very proud to read the transcript of the stern opening address that my colleague Ferral Lasi, Undersecretary (Technical) to the Ministry of Fisheries delivered today at the opening of the WCPFC. I quote it below:

 Don't disappoint the fish owners WCPFC13

Don't disappoint the fish owners WCPFC13

Solomon Islands would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of the Chair and WCPFC Secretariat who have so ably directed the work of the Commission over the last 12 months. We recognise that this is a very challenging task due to the sheer size of the Commission and the different interest of members.

We also would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to the government of Fiji as host for WCPFC 13 in terms of background preparatory work, organizing, and arranging for the meeting to be held in this magnificent venue. The hospitality that we have received since our arrival here in Fiji has been very warm and friendly.

Madam Chair, we note the long list of agenda items that is before us. Some of the critical issues on the agenda need decisive action to be taken during this Commission meeting.

The Solomon Islands believes that the Commission needs to be take strong action on the following critical issues:

  1. Radical management initiatives are needed to address the severely overfished Northern Bluefin tuna fishery. The current status of this stock is an embarrassment to this Commission and an indictment on the Northern Committee.
  2. A new CMM to give greater protection to the health and safety of our observers is urgently needed. The Solomon Islands is very concerned at the unmanaged risks being faced by observers.
  3. Progress needs to be made on the development of Harvest Strategies for all tuna species. Solomon Islands places a high priority for the development of Harvest Strategies for Skipjack Tuna and Southern Albacore tuna. Agreement on a target reference point for Southern Albacore and risk levels for all tuna species at this years meeting would signal real progress. 
  4. Solomon Island sees the need to progress the reform of the Compliance Management Scheme (CMS) as absolutely critical.  We believe the existing CMS is not as effective or efficient as it could be and most importantly we believe that it is unfair to SIDS.  
  5. An agreement on the process to develop bridging CMMs for both the Tropical Tunas and Southern Albacore will be critical the future success of the Commission. 

Madam Chair the Solomon Islands is committed to constructively working with all members to achieve outcomes on these critical issues and on other agenda items.

Solomon Islands re-affirms its commitment to the Commission to ensuring long term sustainability of highly migratory species through the effective implementation of WCPFC CMMs.

In-line with this commitment and as part of the PNA plus Tokelau initiative we would like to inform the Commission that we are implementing the long-line VDS in our national waters as of 1st Jan 2017. Key components of the long-line VDS are e- reporting and e-monitoring. We are confident that these developments will not only enhance compliance monitoring and data quality for science but also improve long-line fishery management as a whole.

The Solomon Islands looks forward to the day when the Commission implements compatible long-line measures for the High Seas.

Finally Madam Chair I wish you every success as you guide us all through this very challenging Commission meeting.

Thankyou and God bless.