Urgent Calls for Proactive Measures at WCPFC to Safeguard Future of Pacific Fisheries


By Elenoa Dimaira

The 20th session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission currently meeting in Rarotonga, Cook Islands must put in measures that would ensure the sustainability of our fisheries, says WWF Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager, Bubba Cook.

“Now, is the time to put measures in place that ensure the longevity of the fisheries. I’ve worked in other fisheries around the world, and I can tell you from experience that when things are bad, it’s a lot harder to make good decisions. And so that’s why it’s so important to make those decisions now, before things get worse,” Cook said.

He added that the looming threat of climate change on region- sea-level rise, shifting weather patterns, and potential alterations in fish stocks and their distribution- made it more urgent to achieve key objectives, such as target reference points for bigeye and yellowfin tuna and the establishment of harvest strategies and management procedures for skipjack tuna.

20th Annual Meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Photo: Elenoa Dimaira/Pasifika Environews

A joint statement from the WWF Pacific led Civil Society Organisations (CSO) urged the delegates of the meeting to decide on outcomes that were aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 14 and its specific targets, such as regulating harvesting, ending overfishing, combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and related issues, and addressing destructive practices.

The meeting was opened by the Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister, Robert Tapaitau on Monday, who urged delegates to work together in developing innovative solutions, implementing effective policies, and promoting responsible practices that would safeguard the health and resilience of our oceans.

His sentiments were echoed by the WCPFC chairperson, Dr Josie Tamate who said the review of the Tropical Tuna Management Measure – the rules for catching tuna- should be a priority, and a key outcome of this meeting.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention) which entered into force on 19 June 2004.