A good WCPFC 15 / by Francisco Blaha

As I mention last week, most of the people I work with where in Honolulu for the 15th WCPFC meeting. And from the feedback I had was good one! Better than in other occasions.

finally, one for them at the WCPFC!

finally, one for them at the WCPFC!

Two of the issues I was quite invested were agreed:

The draft for a Minimum Labour standards resolution. I have to admit that this one surprised me! I was ambivalent, on one side I know that many of the DWFN would not be keen, but on the other side there has been a lot of media on the topic, and honestly what we asked wasn’t much! And it went trough, even if in a diluted way, as a non-binding resolution, and as a an exercise in constructive ambiguity, but is there now! And pressure can be built upon from now on all meetings. Furthermore, this is the first RFMO to take this critical step for addressing labor standards for crew on board fishing vessels. 

Which if you think, is quite incredible… A maori proverb says it clearly:
He aha te mea nui o te ao (What is the most important thing in the world?) 
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata (It is the people, it is the people, it is the people)

The other one I’m personally pleased is the revision of the present (2009) transhipment measure, which is totally inadequate (as I discussed here). This will need a lot of work since my collages in MIMRA volunteer to co chair (with the USA) the inter-sessional working group to review the current transhipment measure. And as my work in RMI has been extended, part of my work will be to deal with it.

Another big ones are:

  • The adoption of the South Pacific albacore Interim Target Reference Point, this has been long time coming, and open the doors for other species to come.

  • The extension of the provision of the Tropical Tuna Measure arrived at a compromise worked out late on the last day of the meeting.  This includes continuation of provisions for a three-month prohibition on use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) by purse seiners in exclusive economic zones and high seas areas between 20°N and 20°S from July 1-September 30, and an additional two-month prohibition on FAD use on the high seas. By consensus, these FAD closures were extended for an additional two-year period, through the end of 2020. As part of the compromise, PNA members agreed to compromise language regarding the definition of FAD sets in 2019 and agreed to work with others on this broader issue.

  • The decision to provide compulsory funds to the Special Requirements Fund, which will help boost participation of Small Island Development State representatives in the decision-making processes of the Commission. 

  • The adoption of a measure for the Compliance Monitoring Scheme. This will allow for continued monitoring and assessment of compliance by all Commission Members with the Commission's obligations.

Big part of the “success” relates to the work of the Pacific Island delegates to the meeting and FFA during the year, but also the very able leadership of outgoing Chair my friend a colleague Rhea Moss-Christian after 4 years in that complex role… she has been awesome. 

So everyone goes home and chill till January, when the fisheries routine starts again… Congratulations to all my colleagues that made all this good news possible, and enjoy your time off with family!