PNG IN LINE FOR REGIONAL TUNA COMMISSION HQ

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 20, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea stands a strong chance of becoming headquarters for the new commission that will manage tuna stocks in the Western and Central Pacific, Michael Powles said yesterday.

But the decision will depend on the votes of representatives attending meetings in Port Moresby and Madang this week and next, Mr. Powles, chairperson for the meetings said.

Hopefully, the answer will be known by the end of next week, when the meetings conclude, he said.

The new regional commission will be responsible for highly migratory fish species. It pertains to agreement on the "Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean."

Papua New Guinea and eight other countries -- Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Samoa and Marshall Islands -- have applied to host the convention’s headquarters.

The Forum Fisheries Committee meeting this week will select one of the bids, which will then likely be supported by all the other members. This nomination will then go forward to the main conference in Madang next week for a decision.

Mr. Powles said he personally "eyed" PNG as having strong chances of becoming the host of the commission headquarters.

He also said it is possible that a final decision will not be reached during the current regional meeting.

The commission, when established, will administer rules and regulations for the management of the Pacific’s tuna resources. It will oversee tuna stocks in the region and implement procedures to make them sustainable.

"There is intense competition for countries to host the Tuna Commission headquarters," Mr. Powles said. "PNG has strong chances but I cannot go beyond that because . . . other participants that have applied.

"But I can confidently say that the preparatory conference is grateful to the Government and people of PNG for hosting this session of the conference."

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea Fisheries Minister Ron Ganarafo earlier this week said he had high hopes of PNG becoming the host.

Mr. Ganarafo reiterated that PNG’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone is one of the richest fishing grounds in the region.

Attending the main conference will be representatives from Australia, Canada, China, Cook Islands, European Union, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Stated of America, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.

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

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

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