CRUCIAL REGIONAL FISHERIES MEETINGS TO BE HELD IN PNG

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By Denys Iorere

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 3, 2002 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea will host two important fisheries meetings next month to develop policies for the future management of tuna resources in the Pacific.

Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Ron Ganarafo told a press conference yesterday that the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) Meeting will be held in Port Moresby February 18-19.

The other meetings, the preliminary and the second preparatory tuna conferences, will be held in Madang February 21-25.

"These meetings will play a vital role in the future management of tuna resources in the Pacific," he said.

"The FFC meeting provides an avenue for the FFA member countries to reach general understanding on issues to be addressed at the Preparatory Conference.

"A major point for discussion will be on selecting one or two countries as FFC nominee(s) to host the Tuna Commission.

"A tuna commission for the Western and Central Pacific will be established and we would like to see the headquarters in Papua New Guinea."

The minister said Papua New Guinea is a candidate to host the 40-member country tuna commission, and added that the prospects of securing this look good.

There are three other candidates.

Mr. Ganarafo said the preliminary meeting is aimed at strengthening commitments of all parties who have been involved in this "worthy process."

Apart from the Forum Fisheries Agency member countries, others included are Traditional Distant Water Fishing nations like Japan, Korea, the U.S. and the Philippines.

Additional participants are those with fishing interests, such as Canada, China, France, the European Union and South American countries like Ecuador and Peru.

"The preliminary meeting is to accommodate the concerns of Japan with long term interests of fishing in the Pacific and PNG would like to welcome them with precautions," he said.

It is anticipated that most of the issues relating to the framework for the establishment of the Tuna Commission will be addressed in the conference proper.

He appealed to the people of Papua New Guinea: "We seek your support and hospitality, especially the people of Port Moresby and Madang, during the duration of these meetings to help us make the events successful.

"We are very proud to host the meeting in Papua New Guinea. We are attracting people into Port Moresby to market the country."

He said currently the fish stock is managed "quite well."

It is well organized because PNG has entered into the Palau Agreement, which is an agreement designed to limit the number of vessels in the fishing waters.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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