WCPFC Executive Director, Feleti P Teo chairs the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction Third Tuna Project Steering Committee at Food & Agriculture Organization Headquarters in Rome, Italy, July 2016.
WCPFC Executive Director Chairs Tuna Meeting in Rome
The WCPFC Secretariat provided a strong contingent to the third meeting of the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project’s Steering Committee which took place at FAO Headquarters in Rome on 6-8 July
2016, just prior to the biennial COFI meeting. The Project harnesses the efforts of a large and diverse array of partners with the objective of achieving sustainable and efficient tuna management and biodiversity conservation.
In his first time attending, WCPFC Executive Director, Feleti P Teo was elected chair for the three-day meeting and led the proceedings throughout. The WCPFC Secretariat was also represented by Finance and Administration Manager Aaron Nighswander and Technical Coordinator-Sharks and Bycatch Shelley Clarke. Other regional participants included FFA, the government of Fiji, the Fiji Fishing Industry Association, and global NGOs Birdlife, ISSF and WWF.
WCPFC is leading implementation of three shark and bycatch components of the project in partnership with SPC and in collaboration with similar work for sharks being conducted by IATTC in the Eastern Pacific. Highlights for these components in the Common Ocean’s second year of implementation included:
· Completion of a global catalog of shark data holdings across the five t-RFMOs using public domain data;
· Adoption by WCPFC of modifications to minimum data
standards and fields collected by longline observers for bycatch and whale shark safe release guidelines;
· Agreement of a provisional bycatch data exchange (compilation) protocol (BDEP) aiming at standardizing bycatch summaries across the t-RFMOs;
· Progress with stock status assessments for porbeagle (southern hemisphere) and bigeye thresher (Pacific-wide) sharks;
Re-development of the Bycatch Management Information System (BMIS) including system and web interface re-design; and
· Convening of the first joint analysis workshop on the effectiveness of sea turtle mitigation measures.
The WCPFC team was awarded two “highly satisfactory” and one “satisfactory” ratings for the three components and was commended for its success in establishing new modes of data sharing. The Secretariat’s shark and bycatch work, along with the fisheries management and MCS components of the Common Ocean ABNJ Tuna Project, is
now in the midst of the mid-term evaluation as some members will have noted from interview requests received during TCC12. Taking onboard the suggestions and corrective actions of the mid-term evaluators, the Common Ocean ABNJ Tuna Project is scheduled to run through January 2019.
WCPFC Executive Director, Feleti P Teo and Scientific Committee Chair, Berry Muller with Indonesian Chairman of the Agency of Marine and Fisheries Research and Development, Muhammad Zulficar Mochtar, Bali, Indonesia, 3 Aug 2016.
The 12th Scientific Committee
The 12th Regular Session of the Scientific Committee (SC12) took place in Bali, Indonesia, 3-11 August, with opening
addresses by the WCPFC Chair Rhea Moss-Christian, the SC Chair Berry Muller, and the Executive Director Feleti Teo. The session covered review of the Pacific tuna fisheries, tuna catch data gaps, stock assessments of key tunas and sharks, development of a harvest strategy framework, bycatch mitigation issues, SC work programme and budget, and other administrative matters.
The provisional total tuna catch in the WCPFC statistical area (WCPO) for 2015 was estimated at 2,687,840 metric tons (mt), the third highest on record and nearly 200,000 mt below the previous record catch in 2014 (2,882,511 mt); this catch represented 80% of the total Pacific Ocean catch of 3,379,789 mt, and 569% of the global tuna catch (the provisional
estimate for 2015 is 4,799,697 mt, and when finalised is expected to be the second highest on record).
Among the total catch,
- skipjack catch (1,827,750 mt – 68% of the total catch) was the third highest recorded;
- yellowfin catch (605,963 mt – 23%) was the second highest recorded;
-bigeye catch (134,084 mt – 5%) was the lowest since 1996 due to relatively low catches in the longline and purse seine fisheries;
- albacore catch (120,043 mt - 4%) was the lowest since 2011.
In 2017, there were two stock assessments: skipjack tuna by SPC and Pacific bluefin tuna by ISC. Although the Committee could not reach consensus on the description of stock status based on the 2016 stock assessment of skipjack tuna, SC12 provided the following management advice;
· The stock is currently moderately exploited and fishing mortality level is sustainable;
· Fishing is a significant impact on stock size, and can be expected to affect catch rates, in addition to being influenced by changes in oceanographic conditions;
· Continue to develop an index of abundance based on purse seine data, and undertake regular large scale tagging cruises.
Regarding the Pacific bluefin tuna stock, SC12 noted that the Pacific bluefin tuna spawning stock biomass is depleted to 2.6% of the estimated unfished level.
SC12 emphasized that this depletion level is considerably below the limit reference point of 20% of the unfished level, though the Pacific bluefin tuna stock remained below 20% of the unfished level for most of the time of assessment.
The Commission is developing a harvest strategy framework. SC12 reviewed six elements to be included in the framework, and provided relevant advice and recommendations to the Commission.
While noting an MSE Expert Consultation meeting hosted by SPC-OFP in June 2016, SC12 reviewed information related to biologically reasonable rebuilding timeframes for bigeye tuna and provided that the estimated minimum
rebuilding time in the absence of fishing is 2-4 years.
SC12 reviewed the progress of the shark research plan, mitigation of seabird and sea turtle bycatch, and collection and exchange of bycatch data. Finally, SC12 provided the following administrative recommendations:
· SC budget for 2017 is USD 1,711,700 with a partial support to the Pacific tagging programme, and USD 2,661,700 with a full support;
· The SC Chair B. Muller was approved as SC Chair for the
next 2 years, and the SC Vice-Chair, A. Batibasaga, reconfirmed his availability to complete his two year term;
· SC12 confirmed that SC13 in 2017 would be held in the Cook Islands and proposed that SC14 in 2018 be held in Korea.
WCPFC Executive Director, Feleti P Teo and WCPFC Chair, Rhea Moss-Christian with Federated States of Micronesia President Peter Christian and Republic of Palau State Minister Billy Kuartei at WCPFC Headquarters in Pohnpei, FSM, 9 Sep 2016.
47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting Held in Pohnpei, FSM
The 47th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders' meeting was held in the Federated States of Micronesia in September of this year.
The WCPFC Secretariat was happy to assist the PIF Secretariat with the meeting logistics where possible. Even prior to the start of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' meeting, the Polynesian Leaders Group (PGL) held their meeting at the Secretariats Headquarters.
Several heads of state attended this regional meeting and were happy to see the WPCFC headquarters for the first time. On the final day of the meeting, several Pacific leaders had their dialogue meeting with a development partner at the Commission headquarters.
During the PIF meeting, the
Commission’s Chair, Rhea Moss-Christian, gave a statement to the Pacific Islands Forum plenary session on behalf of the Commission.
Following the Pacific Islands Forum plenary session the Executive Director, Feleti Teo OBE, hosted a dinner reception for the heads of state, ministers, and heads of delegations from members, associate members, observers, dialog partners and local leaders. 32 of the PIF’s Member States, Associate Members and Dialogue Partners are also Members of the WCPFC.
The reception was well attended and for a number of leaders, it was the first time to see the WCPFC headquarters building.
Consultation Meeting to develop the new WCPFC strategic and corporate plans was held at the College of Micronesia-FSM Gymnasium in Pohnpei, FSM, 19 Sep 2016.
Two-day Consultation Meeting on Development of the New Strategic and Corporate Plans for the Commission
Prior to the 12th Regular Session of the Technical and
Compliance Committee, a two-day consultation meeting on development of the new strategic and corporate plans for the Commission
was held in Pohnpei. The consultation was facilitated by a consultant from the Consensus Building Institute (CBI) who was contracted to undertake the work.
The consultant presented the results of interviews and surveys from 30 key informants, including representatives of member states and participating territories, cooperating non-members, inter-governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations representing both environmental conservation and fishing industry interests.
During the consultation meeting the participants continued to provide input in the Commission’s 10 year Strategic Plan and considered some possible ways to achieve those goals through a 3 year Corporate Plan.
Since the meeting, Members have been
provided with an updated version of the draft Strategic Plan for further input with the goal of presenting a draft of the plan at the annual meeting in December.
Chair of WCPFC Technical & Compliance Committee, Ms Alex Cole at the 12th Technical & Compliance Committee meeting in Pohnpei, FSM, 21 Sep 2016.
12th Technical & Compliance Committee
The Twelfth Regular Session of the Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC12) was held 21 - 27 September 2016 in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, chaired by Ms Alexa Cole from United States of America.
Around 170 WCPFC Commissioners, MCS officers, and fishery managers attended the meeting, representing WCPFC Members, Cooperating Non-Members, Participating Territories, and observers from inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations.
TCC12 committed at least two and a half days to the review of the full draft Compliance Monitoring Report covering 2015 activities prepared by the Secretariat in accordance with CMM 2015-07, and agreed to recommend a provisional Compliance Monitoring Report to the Commission for consideration at WCPFC13.
This year the combination of the revised CMM, Commission pre-agreed
list of obligations to be assessed by the CMS and the Secretariats compliance case file system together contributed to TCC successfully completing assessments for all obligations identified for assessment in 2016. TCC12 also gave consideration to the Commission undertaking a review of the CMS at the end of 2017.
The two cases related to alleged illegal activities undertaken by two vessels during 2015-2016 were reviewed by TCC12 and a recommended Provisional IUU list was forwarded to the Commission.
TCC12 also recommended that the three vessels currently on the WCPFC IUU vessel list are maintained. The Commission will consider the TCC12
recommendations and adopt a WCPFC IUU vessel list at its meeting in Nadi.
The routine reports of the WCPFC MCS Programmes administered by the Secretariat were also reviewed by TCC12, and they covered:
- the WCPFC Vessel Monitoring Scheme;
- Regional Observer Programme;
- High Seas Transshipment Monitoring;
High Seas Boarding and Inspection (HSBI);
- Record of Fishing Vessels;
- Eastern High Seas Pocket Special Management Area (EHSP-SMA);
- WCPFC Secretariat Integrated-MCS Information Management Systems and online reporting IT tools; and
- Administration of Data Requests and gaps in Scientific data submissions.
TCC12 also received reports from the Chairs of Intersessional Working Groups:
· from Ms Kerry Smith (Australia) who reported on the outcomes of the WCPFC Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Working Group held 1 – 2 August in Bali, Indonesia;
· from Mr Alois Kinol (Papua New Guinea) who reported on the outcomes of the Catch Documentation Scheme Working Group meeting held 16 September in Pohnpei, FSM;
from Mr Brian Kumasi (Papua New Guinea) who reported on the intersessional activities of the FAD Management Options Working Group which met following TCC12 28 – 29 September in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.
TCC12 participants also discussed the WCPFC Chairs bridging CMM proposal and two draft memorandum of cooperation with Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).
Next meeting (TCC13) is provisionally scheduled for 27 September – 3 October 2017 in Pohnpei and will be agreed at WCPFC13 in December 2016.