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2015 Update - Tonga Commits To Stamp Out Illegal, Unregulated Fishing
Tonga ratifies Niue Agreement, seventh country to do so

Tonga is the 7th country to commit to the Niue agreement that aims to stamp out illegal, unlicensed and unregulated fishing in the tuna-rich economic zones of the Pacific Islands.

The directors of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) yesterday welcomed Tonga’s ratification.

The fisheries problems remain an ongoing challenge for regional and global fisheries, and Pacific member nations of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

"Combatting illegal, unlicensed and unregulated fishing is central to what our Pacific Forum Leaders have tasked us – to ensure maximum economic returns whilst achieving sustainability of the resource," said FFA Deputy Director General Wez Norris.

In his opening remarks during a half-day workshop for parties to the multilateral Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA) on the weekend, he noted its entry into force and congratulated the six countries who have ratified.

FFA as the Treaty Administrator has also just received papers of ratification by Tonga, adding its commitment to the Cook Islands, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Others in the FFA membership are pending signature or accession.

The group of seven are looking at next steps now that the Niue Treaty Information System (NTIS) is operational. This involves countries using the information in this system to take their Monitoring Control and Surveillance efforts to the next level.

"The countries of this region already play a world-leading role in proactive fisheries management ideas. The NTSA provides another regional opt-in initiative where FFA members are saying they are prepared to deepen that cooperation by sharing information and resources as and when required, to help keep IUU fishing out of the Pacific neighbourhood," Deputy Director General Norris said. He and FFA Director General James Movick today welcomed the newest ratification.

Referring to the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Fisheries given the stamp of approval by Pacific Leaders in Port Moresby this year, Norris said the inclusion and affirmation of work against IUU fishing in the Roadmap gives added importance to that commitment from NTSA parties to share Intel, data and national resources to combat IUU fishing.

Funding from Australia has enabled member countries to meet over the year and shape the Niue Treaty Information System’s operational details and procedures.

"We’ve been very encouraged by the feedback and questions around the exact nature of the system and how Parties will now walk the talk on making it work," said FFA Legal Counsel Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen.

Information system

Within the context of the whole Niue Treaty framework, "The Information system is the core which the agreement revolves around. It houses the information and authority which allow Parties to plan and conduct activities, such as what resources can be made available by an individual party and a party’s operational procedures," said Dr Tupou-Roosen. "At this meeting of the parties to the NTSA, countries have continued to raise great interest in the operationalization of the agreement."

"We’ve been very clear with members that nothing in the information system forces them into positions they cannot cope with. The NTIS works on an optional basis—parties choose which elements of the agreement will apply in their waters or involve their resources, and what activities to enter into with which Parties. At the end of the day, the multilateral NTSA provides a legally binding framework to cooperate in enhancing MCS efforts and ensure the sustainability of our shared tuna resource."

Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA's 17 Pacific Island members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Since 1979, FFA has facilitated regional cooperation so that all Pacific countries benefit from the sustainable use of tuna – a multi-billion dollar resource important for many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific.

Link: http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/2015/October/10-28-04.htm