Luxton Attends Multilateral Meetings

  • John Luxton
Fisheries and Aquaculture

The Hon John Luxton, Minister of Fisheries, recently travelled to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to lead NZ's delegation at the 33rd meeting of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) and the Second Multilateral High Level Conference on the Conservation and Management of Tunas in the Central and Western Pacific (MHLC2).

The purpose of the Conference was to begin the negotiating process to establish a regional tuna fishery management regime for the Central and Western Pacific Ocean. At present the tuna resource appears to be being fished at a sustainable level and is worth nearly NZ$3 billion per year. Although the returns to the island states in this region are minimal, the fishery is vital for their economic security.

The importance of the work discussed at both the FFC meeting that preceded the Conference and the Conference itself was reflected by the high level of attendance by Ministers of the South Pacific Countries that are members of the Forum Fisheries Agency and by the presence of senior representatives of the major distant water fishing countries and entities.

The MHLC was attended by all 16 members of the FFA (Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, PNG, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Tokelau, Vanuatu and Western Samoa), the 5 major Distant Water Fisheries Nations and Entities (USA, Japan, China, Korea and Chinese Taipei) as well as observers from French Polynesia, New Caledonia and the Philippines.

New Zealand had 4 goals going into the MHLC2, all of which were realised at the completion of the Conference. These goals were:

To involve all Distant Water Fishing Nations and Entities in the negotiating process;
To place the regional policy of the Forum Fisheries Agency Member states clearly on the record and before the Distant Water Fishing Nations and Entities;
To reach agreement on a Declaration of Principles as a shared position from which to conduct negotiations;
To agree on a Future Programme of Work for subsequent meetings.
The New Zealand delegation was pleased with the progress achieved at this Conference, especially since its principle objective, a Declaration of Principles, was produced.

By achieving these goals it sets the foundation for improving the economic security of the Pacific Island states.

Further meetings have been arranged at the official level (rather than Ministerial level) for December 1997 and April 1998 to discuss management issues and management, control and surveillance, respectively in the Central and Western Pacific Ocean. In recognition of New Zealand's valuable contribution at this most recent Conference it has been asked to chair the second of these two meetings.