Samoa has told the Western Central Pacific Commission (W.C.P.F.C.) it will continue to work closely with the Commission and development partners to bring about real progress in the sustainable management and conservation of fisheries resources.
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mu’a, said this is line with Pacific leaders Roadmap for sustainable Pacific Fisheries.
“Our domestic fleet has struggled to survive the poor economic conditions, as a result of prolonged reduction of catch rates, for its targeted species, which is South Pacific Albacore,” he said.
“This deteriorating situation had resulted in the need to change the norms of operation for our tuna industry to mitigate the poor economic conditions or otherwise risk a shutdown altogether of our domestic tuna fishery.
“We have seen both a general decline in catch rates and vulnerable levels of spawning biomass for this stock over the years.
Lopao’o said Samoa noted “with great concern” that scientific analysis, of South Pacific Albacore suggests that stocks are declining and that there is a 17 Per cent chance they will drop below the critical level of 20 per cent of pre-fishing levels by 2018.
“The deteriorating status of the South Pacific Albacore must not be allowed to continue and the Commission is obligated to implement management measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of this resource,” Lopao’o told the W.C.P.F.C. plenary in Manila.
The Minister asked Commission and its fishing partners interested in South Pacific Albacore, to urgently develop an agreed, robust management arrangement, for South Pacific Albacore, including progressing agreement on various elements of a harvest strategy, such as an interim target reference point.
He said the issue of disproportionate burden suffered by small states, such as Samoa, continues to surface.
“The one size fits all concept can never be applied and so too countries need to develop specific development plans and strategies suited to its own position. In addition, the serious issue of I.U.U. fishing in the region requires cooperation at the international level to combat.
“As a Small Island Developing State with limited resources, provisions need to be made for adequate capacity building to enhance the ability of states like ours, to develop and manage our fisheries, including participation in scientific meetings, fisheries data collection and implementation of monitoring, conservation and surveillance measures,” he said.
The contribution of our own domestic fleet and fishing industry to the wellbeing of our people, food security and our island economies is very important, he said.
“It is our intention that we will continue to develop our small scale domestic fishing fleet and we will implement measures to ensure emerging challenges will not threaten its survival.
“Our failure as a Commission to undertake robust management, through difficult decisions of imposing appropriate harvest strategies in some fisheries, like the South Pacific Albacore continues to impact on the stock, as well as its economic viability
“With technological advances in this day and age, we should be vigilant and seriously consider effective monitoring, control and surveillance measures to support management frameworks and to combat IUU in W.C.P.F.C waters ,” the Minister explained.