PH to host int’l meet to avert overfishing in Pacific Ocean

MANILA -- The Philippines will spearhead the14th regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which seeks to draft more effective measures to end and prevent overfishing in the Pacific Ocean.

The BFAR will be hosting the fisheries summit at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila on December 3-7, 2017.

According to Nazario Briguera, chief information officer at the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the WCPFC passes conservation and management measures (CMMs) aimed at curbing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

He said such measures also seek to protect specific marine and bird species aside from addressing problems hounding fisheries management in high seas.

Experts said the Pacific Ocean is home to some of the world's most abundant populations of tuna species like albacore, skipjack, and yellowfin, as well as billfish species like marlin and swordfish.

They said such species are highly migratory, as these often swim distances covering ocean provinces and cross international boundaries.

But they stress that existing conservation and management measures are inadequate to ensure that overfishing is ended or prevented.

"Fishery resources of western and central Pacific Ocean are relatively abundant and returns on investments are high, with fishery estimated to be worth approximately USD5 billion annually," noted WCPFC.

WCPFC focuses on effective management and conservation measures in the area, where several countries fish commercially, to prevent over-exploitation and eventual depletion of species.

Several challenges confront the bid to achieve long-term conservation and sustainable use of the area's highly migratory species, WCPFC said.

"As the world's population continues to grow, so does demand for food and in particular, sources of protein. This increasing demand means greater pressure on the ocean's resources and their ability to reproduce in a sustainable manner," the organization added.

The Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean established WCPFC.

"Conservation and management measures developed under terms of the Convention apply to these stocks throughout their range or to specific areas within the Convention Area," WCPFC said.

Briguera said around 700 participants are expected to attend WCPFC's 14th regular session.

The participants include ministers and senior officials from WCPFC's member-States, he said.

WCPFC said its member-states are Australia, China, Canada, Cook Islands, European Union, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, Vanuatu, and the Philippines.

Also expected to attend are representatives from WCPFC's participating territories and cooperating non-members, Briguera noted.

WCPFC identified its participating territories as American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Tokelau, Wallis, and Futuna.

The cooperating non-members are Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Liberia, Thailand, and Vietnam, WCPFC added.

The WCPFC, which was created on June 19, 2004, is a regional fisheries management organization governing fishing activities in international waters or areas that do not belong to any country.

Source: Philippine News Agency