Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

FSM submits proposal to host tuna commission

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service): September 24, 2002 - The Federated States of Micronesia has officially submitted its proposal to host the Permanent Secretariat of the Commission to manage the fish stock in the Pacific.

The Commission for the Conservation and Management of the Highly Migratory Fish Stock in the Central and Western Pacific Ocean is the organizational body proposed to manage the harvest of fish stocks in the region.

The FSM's proposal verbalized the nation's commitment to the conservation and management of the highly migratory fish stocks. The proposal fulfilled and expanded on the criteria's established during the Second Preparatory Conference (PrepCon2) to establish the Commission, held earlier this year in Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Criteria's identified in PrepCon2 as ideal location of the Commission's permanent Secretariat would be an area where:

  1. the fisheries stocks to be managed are also located;

  2. conference and facilities are suitable/cost-effective;

  3. operations and in-country cost would be affordable to commission;

  4. convenient and accessibility to airlines;

  5. suitable lodgings to accommodate commission meetings;

  6. living accommodations & work conditions are conducive to the retention of qualified staff;

  7. social and economical conditions are stable and secure;

Review of these criteria's will be on the agenda of PrepCon3 scheduled for November in Manila. The final decision on the location of the headquarters will be made by the Commission itself, once it is established.

The FSM's proposal is to locate the Secretariat in Pohnpei - the capital state of the FSM. According to the proposal, this will enable the Commission to "commence and perform its work quickly, cost-effectively and with greater assurance of relevance to the operating conditions, capabilities and needs of its diverse membership, in particular the smaller island countries."

The Pacific region is a collection of small islands countries heavily reliant on the wide range of resources and services that the Ocean provides for their social, cultural and economic security. They are significantly mindful of the broad economic and social importance of the sustained utilization of the highly migratory fish resources.

These marine resources provide for small-island countries like the FSM, the economic footing needed to ensure a sustainable future. As a coastal state, the FSM licenses foreign boats within its EEZ and as a flag state, its domestic fishing operations seek access to the fish stocks across their regional range.

The concept of a tuna commission began in the mid 90s' when the island nations fisheries discussion shifted towards conservation and management of the fish stock in the high seas areas. The high seas are very productive areas that are constantly fished without any management controls, therefore a mechanism or a Convention was needed to maintain and preserve the harvest from these areas.

The objective of the mechanism would be to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean. It follows the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Agreement adopted in 1995 to implement provisions of that Convention. The Agreement provided a framework to promote good order on the high seas and effective management measures for its resources.

The Agreement birthed the Convention for the Conservation and Management of the Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Adopted on September 2000 in Honolulu, the Convention is the culmination of seven Multi-lateral High Level Conferences and numerous technical meetings.

The Convention proposed the establishment of a Commission to manage the fish stock. The proposed tuna commission will manage the fish stocks on the high seas outside of each nation's 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with responsibilities that encompass the management, conservation and optimum utilization of one of the Pacific region's richest natural resources - fish stocks.

The main fish stocks of concern are the four key tuna species that together form the basis of the world's largest tuna fishery - Albacore, Bigeye, Skipjack and Yellowfin. These highly migratory species move freely within a zone that covers almost a third of the globe, a regional mass that encompasses the whole of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia.

Recognizing the need for cooperation between the coastal states of the Pacific region and the distant water fishing nations in the area, it was also agreed that both coastal States and States fishing in the Pacific region will make up the membership of the proposed Commission.

The deadline for submitting proposals to the Secretariat was September 1, 2002.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356