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South Pacific Fisheries Management Organization Established

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

20 November 2009

The European Commission has welcomed the adoption of a Convention for the setting up of a new regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) to manage non-tuna fish stocks in the South Pacific, in Auckland, New Zealand.

This Convention will allow to fill in the large gap that currently exists in the international conservation and management of non-highly migratory fisheries and in the protection of biodiversity in the marine environment in the high seas areas of the South Pacific Ocean.

This development has been achieved after three and a half years of negotiations and the holding of eight diplomatic conferences.

Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "This is a clear demonstration that multilateral cooperation between States with different interests and levels of economic development can achieve proper results for the conservation of oceans. All the players concerned must continue to work together to strengthen this new organization which will allow for the effective management of fisheries resources and the protection of the marine environment in this vast area of the high seas which need to be protected from uncontrolled exploitation."

The new Convention covers a vast area including the waters from the most western parts of the South Pacific towards the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of South America.

The conclusion of this Convention means that the states from the region and those with long distance fishing fleets share the same concerns and the same goals: to ensure the sustainability of their activities and the durability of the fishing resources in a balanced marine environment.

The major fishing nations for pelagic (mid water) species are Chile (EEZ plus high seas), China, the EU, Korea, Russia, Vanuatu, the Faroe Islands (high seas), and Peru (EEZ).

Data and information standards already in force to monitor the interim measures have been confirmed.

The Convention will be open for signature from January 1, 2010, and should enter into force in two to three years’ time. A preparatory conference will be convened in the second half of 2010 to adopt the rules of procedures and the financial regulations (including possible revision of interim measures), amongst other matters.

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