Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

FFA to Convene Tuna Conference in the Marshalls

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): January 17, 1997 - The 16 member countries of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) are to convene a major international tuna Conference in the Marshall Islands in June 1997.

Following a directive issued by Forum Leaders in Majuro earlier this year, and an offer to host the meeting by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the countries made the decision to hold the Conference during their meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

In announcing this decision, Akau'ola, the Secretary for Fisheries of the Kingdom of Tonga and the current chairman of the Forum Fisheries Committee, noted that since its establishment in 1979, Pacific Island countries have been united in their stand to develop effective conservation and management arrangements to protect the region's tuna resources.

"FFA member countries stand ready to work with all parties considered to have a real interest in this region's tuna fisheries. Without this cooperation, there is a very real fear that the region's tuna resources could become depleted in the longer term."

The Conference will be held from 24-27 June 1997, and is titled 'The Second Multilateral High Level Conference on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific.'

In addition to the 16 FFA member countries, invitations to the Conference will be sent to other Pacific island territories, other coastal states such as the Philippines and Indonesia, and leading fishing nations such as Japan, South Korea, Chinese-Taipei and the People's Republic of China.

At the conclusion of the Conference, FFA member countries will invite interested non-government organizations (NGOs) to a post-Conference briefing session.

"NGOs have an important role to play in safeguarding the region's tuna resources for the benefit of future generations," Akau'ola noted.

"The staging of the post-Conference dialogue session reflects the desire of FFA member countries to consult and work closely with the NGO movement," he added.

The western and central Pacific is the most productive tuna fishing ground in the world. The gross value of the catch in 1995 is estimated at around US$1.7 billion, with catches of the four principal tuna species - skipjack, yellowfin, bigeye and albacore - consistently exceeding 1 million metric tons per year.

For more information on the Conference, contact Ian Cartwright, Deputy Director, Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara, Solomon Islands, Phone 677 21124, fax 677 23995.


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