JAPAN SKIPS CRUCIAL REGIONAL FISHERIES MEETING IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 21, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Japan will not attend the international fisheries meeting to be held in Madang next week, the Japanese embassy in Port Moresby confirmed late yesterday.

Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission K. Minagawa said the reasons for the country not attending will be distributed officially in Madang.

"We have asked the Papua New Guinea delegation in Madang to distribute the papers for us," he said. "Tokyo has decided not to attend the meeting despite the fact that it is significantly important."

Japan is a major player in international fishing. An informal pre-conference meeting in Port Moresby has been scheduled to address Japanese concerns about 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 has reservations about general agreements reached.

He said next week’s 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.

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, he said.

"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.

High on the agenda in Madang will be confirming which country will host the Tuna Stocks Commission headquarters for the Western and Central Pacific.

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

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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