JAPAN STILL UNCONFIRMED AS MADANG PREPARES FOR MAJOR TUNA MEET

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By Jack Metta

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 17, 2002 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Japan, a key player in international fishing, has yet to confirm its attendance at a major regional fisheries meeting in Madang, Papua New Guinea.

This is even though the meeting was to address Japanese concerns on the "Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean."

Acting Managing Director of the (PNG) National Fisheries Authority Michael Batty said that although Japan had been involved in a series of earlier meetings it had reservations about what was agreed.

He said the Madang meeting is one of a long series aimed at putting in place a management regime for tuna and related highly migratory species in the Pacific.

He said although Pacific Islands countries exert sovereignty for fisheries resources in their 200-mile zones, highly migratory species such as tuna move freely between these zones and in the seas outside.

"Uncontrolled fishing in these high seas pockets, in particular, undermines national management measures," said Mr. Batty.

"The long-term objective of the process is to develop compatible management regimes over various national zones and the high seas areas, in line with UN agreements."

Mr. Batty said there have been seven multi-lateral high-level conferences, starting in 1994 in Honiara, to explore the concept of regional management of Distant Water Fishing Nations.

The last of these conferences, in Honolulu in 2000, adopted the convention.

Papua New Guinea is one of nine countries that has submitted bids to host the headquarters of the new regional commission on highly migratory fish species.

Mr. Batty said the Forum Fisheries Committee meeting this week will select one of these bids, which will then be supported by all the other members.

He said this nomination would go forward to the conference in Madang for a decision.

Senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the National Fisheries Authority will represent PNG at the meeting. It is to be opened by Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta on February 25.

Fisheries Minister Ron Ganarafo will also host several functions for the delegates. They include the 16 Pacific Islands Forum countries, United States, Canada, Korea, China, Taiwan, France, New Caledonia, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, and eight international organizations.

The European Union has confirmed its attendance.

A two-day session of the Forum Fisheries Committee in Port Moresby and a two-day informal meeting of participants in Madang will precede the main conference.

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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