14, Nov, 2009

South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management negotiations conclude; countries called on to protect the South Pacific fisheries and marine environment

Category: ECO Inc

Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, ECO, Greenpeace

Non-governmental organisations attending the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) ; negotiations in Auckland welcomed the signing of the agreement today, but called on all countries to accelerate efforts to take real steps to protect fisheries and the marine environment.

“The structures for managing non-tuna fisheries over a huge area of the South Pacific have been agreed in Auckland today, but the immediate future of the Chilean jack mackerel fishery is grim as countries from the north position to intensely fish the already stressed fishery over the next 1-3 years,” said Sam Leiva of Greenpeace Chile.

“The tragedy is that the northern fishing countries and the European Commission seem unable to understand that this short term race for fish will leave everyone the poorer and will have ongoing and unknowable consequences for the marine environment,” said Cath Wallace of the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO).

“The major achievement of this meeting has been agreement on the text of the South Pacific Fisheries Management Organisation which will provide, once it is ratified by countries and takes effect in a few years, a sound basis for management of the fisheries, principally orange roughy bottom fisheries in the western Pacific and around New Zealand and Australia, and the Chilean jack mackerel fisheries in the eastern Pacific. The agreement by more than 25 countries is a huge step forward. It is a major achievement and we can thank distinguished New Zealand international lawyer, Bill Mansfield and his secretariat, for this, and in particular his efforts to ensure that the text of the agreement includes modern environmental principles and requirements” said Cath Wallace.

The stakes for the countries competing to fish for jack mackerel, including Russia, Peru, the European Commission, the Faroe Islands, China, and Chile are high. They have not just been competing for entitlements to fish now, but they know that future allocations depend on their catch history so there is a major “race to fish” on. Forbearance and concern for the marine environment and the future largely vanished as the haggling went on. There has been hard haggling to the end over the rights to fish and to avoid stringent or indeed any meaningful limits despite the best efforts of New Zealand, Australia and Chile.

"New Zealand, Australia the USA and others have played a constructive role in these negotiations, and in particular with their efforts to achieve Interim Measures (controls) including a ban on destructive gillnet fishing from the South Pacific. The conclusion of the Agreement on the Convention and the prospect of banning deep sea gillnet fishing are positive developments which are important for the South Pacific,” said Duncan Currie for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. “We acknowledge the positive role that Chair Bill Mansfield and Australia, the United States and New Zealand have played to get this far, and we are glad that the EC has undertaken to stop its flag States from engaging in this destructive practice. But it is not enough. Negotiations start next week in New York to ensure that vulnerable marine ecosystems and deep sea stocks are protected, and we are calling on Australia, New Zealand, the European Commission and all other countries participating in that meeting to learn from this week and take positive steps to ensure that all countries play by the rules. Fishing outside the rules is IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and must stop.”


Notes to editors: the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition is a coalition of over 60 non-governmental organisations.

The negotiations have been underwagy since February 2006 and were initiated by New Zealand, Australia and Chile. The Agreement covers bottom trawling species such as orange roughy, pelagic species such as jack mackerel and other non-highly migratory species.


For further information contact

Duncan Currie (Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and Greenpeace +64-(0) 21-632-335

Cath Wallace, ECO +64-(0)21-891-994