The National – Friday, December 10, 2010
THE National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has proposed to bar all foreign flagged vessels from fishing within the PNG economical exclusive zone if compatible management measures are imposed by Western Central Pacific tuna commission (WCPTC) in the high seas.
This was the bold message from Fisheries minister Ben Semri at the opening of the 7th WCPTC meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii this week.
Semri said PNG, through the NFA, would take this measure if the WCPTC encroaches into the EEZs of coastal states instead of operating the high seas.
He said if the tuna commission could not do its functions and interfered with the measures that coastal states carry out within the EEZ, then PNG might be left with no option but to consider closing the EEZ to all foreign flagged vessels that were licenced under bilateral and multilateral arrangements.
PNG has abundant tuna resource which accounts for approximately 500,000 metric tonnes within PNG’s EEZ (10% of the world catch).
Semri also said PNG supplied 10% of the world tuna catch, of which more than 80% comprised skipjack.
PNG has a strong partnership with private sector partners which had laid the foundation to build a strong national tuna fishing and processing industry that used tuna caught within PNG’s EEZ.
NFA managing director Sylvester Pokajam said the sustainable management of tuna resources was a “paramount concern” to PNG.
“We have continuously carried out management measures and put in place tools to ensure the sustainable management of tuna for the future generation,” he said.
Semri told the tuna commission to carefully impose compatible management measures in the high seas so that the fisheries resources, especially tuna species, were managed sustainably.
The NFA had done PNG well in terms of tuna, other fisheries and marine resources management, he said.
As part of management and conservations exercise, NFA has developed a web-based vessel monitoring system (VMS) that is more powerful and more flexible to provide real time reporting and data management.