Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) is a treaty-based organisation. It was established to conserve and manage tuna and other highly migratory fish stocks across the western and central areas of the Pacific Ocean and commenced operations in late 2005. Its full name is Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The secretariat of WCPFC is based in Pohnpei, in the northern Pacific state of the Federated States of Micronesia.
It was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, which entered into force in 2004. The WCPF Convention is the second regional fisheries management agreement negotiated since the conclusion of the 1995 U.N. Fish Stocks Agreement.
The WCPF Convention was built on the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and set out to address the specific characteristics of the western and central Pacific Ocean. It established a framework for the participation of fishing entities which legally binds them to the provisions of the Convention. Territories and possessions can participate in the work of the Commission, which is also mandated to cooperate with fisheries in other regions if the area of competence overlaps with WCPFC. Cooperation with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission is of particular importance because of the overlap in respective Convention Areas and the wide range of some of the stocks (such as Bigeye tuna, and the two Albacore Tuna stocks) jointly managed by WCPFC and IATTC. The High Seas of the WCPFC Convention Area also overlap significantly with the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation and the new North Pacific Fisheries Commission Convention Area. However the fish stocks managed by these RFMOs are different from those managed by WCPFC, and interactions are likely to be restricted to those involving bycatch and multipurpose vessels.
Among other functions, the WCPFC Secretariat maintains Register of Fishing Vessels authorized by their flag States to fish for tuna and other relevant highly migratory fish stocks in the WCPFC Convention Area, manages a Vessel Monitoring System, maintains standards for the national and subregional observer programs that make up the Regional Observer Program, and convenes meetings of the Commission. Primary scientific services are provided under contract by the Oceanic Fisheries Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and one of the WCPFC subsidiary bodies - the Northern Committee - also obtains scientific advice from The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC).
The current Chair of the Commission is Rhea Moss-Christian, who was elected to the position in December 2014. She succeeds Charles Karnella of the USA. Satya Nandan from Fiji, who was also the first Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, was the previous Chair, and the first Chair of the WCPFC was Glenn Hurry, a former CEO of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority. The secretariat for the commission is located in Kolonia, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia in a building funded by the Chinese government. The Commission held its twelfth regular session in December 2015, in Bali, Indonesia.
In December 2014 at the 11th regular session of the WCPFC in Apia, Samoa, Feleti Teo was appointed the Executive Director of the Commission. Teo previously served as Attorney General of Tuvalu, Director General of the Forum Fishery Agency, Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum and in 2008 he had been the acting Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Decisions of the Commission are normally made by consensus, but the WCPFC Convention also provides for a two-chambered voting mechanism, with member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) forming one chamber.
The Commission has three formal subsidiary bodies whose advice must be taken into account in decision-making:
- The Scientific Committee (SC), which usually meets in early August;
- The Northern Committee (NC), which usually meets in early September; and
- The Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC), which usually meeets in late September.
Membership of the Commission is open to the States that participated in negotiating the 2004 Convention. The contracting parties to the Convention, by consensus, may invite States or regional economic integration organizations that wish to fish for highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific to accede to the Convention. This approach restricts access, emphasizing that the initiative to accede lies with existing parties, not with new applicants.
- Participating territories
- Cooperating non-members
Performance of the Commission
In June 2015 the fisheries ministers of the countries that are parties to the Nauru Agreement met in Palikir, Pohnpei, under the chairmanship of Elisala Pita of Tuvalu, who stated that in 2015 Tuvalu has refused to sell fishing days to certain nations and fleets that have blocked Tuvaluan initiatives to develop and sustain their own fishery. Elisala Pita also said that Tuvalu was disappointed with the outcomes of recent meetings of the WCPFC as some fishing nations had tried to avoid their responsibilities and commitment to sustainable fishing.
- Secretariat of the Pacific Community
- Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency
- Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
- Contribution from the Secretariat of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Review Conference on the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (New York, 22 to 26 May 2006). On the website of the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea.
- "ISC Website". Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- Pareti, Samisoni (3 December 2014). "Tuvalu 'son' secures top WCPFC job". Island Business. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
- "ISSF Status of Stocks Report". Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- "Tuvalu refuses to sell fishing days". The Fijian Times Online (PNA/PACNEWS). 13 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
- "Tuvalu to stop selling fishing days to nations". The National. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
- Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission – Official web site
- Mahon, R and McConney, PA (2004) Management of large pelagic fisheries in CARICOM Countries FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 464.