COOK ISLANDS TO HOST REGIONAL TUNA CONFERENCE

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AVARUA, Cooke Islands (Cook Islands Independent/PINA) - The Cook Islands will host a big preparatory conference of what is commonly called the Tuna Commission.

It is scheduled for Rarotonga in September and will attract delegates from throughout the fishing world. They will include Pacific Islands states and the Distant Water Fishing Nations whose boats fish the Pacific Ocean.

There may also be an additional preparatory meeting in March or April. But the Cook Islands could not bid for this one due to the budgetary appropriation requirements needed to be able to host the meeting. 

The decision to hold the conference in the Cook Islands came in Manila during the Preparatory Conference for the Establishment of the Commission for Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Region. This conference also voted that the commission headquarters will be in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

The preparatory conferences are working out the details for implementing a convention for the conservation and management of migratory fish stocks, particularly tuna.

A Cook Islands Government delegation was sent to the Manila conference, both to represent the Cook Islands and to bid for the September preparatory conference.

Marine Secretary Navy Epati, who headed the Manila assignment, is now in the Seychelles attending the annual session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission.

Epati joined a high-level delegation from the Honiara-based Forum Fisheries Agency that will be observing the proceedings of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission.

He said this will allow Pacific Islands delegates to gather some insights into how the Pacific Tuna Commission may be run in the near future.

The Cook Islands and other Pacific Islands countries, particularly the small island states, face enormous constraints in sustaining their engagement with these international processes.

These constraints include the ability of small nations to attend such meetings due to the high costs. A vast percentage of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Scientific Committee, for example, is made up of wealthy countries. The smaller parties can¹t afford to attend.

In addition, Pacific Islands countries have a common priority toward capacity building. In many cases, these countries simply do not have the managers or scientists to effectively represent their interests with regards to the fisheries resource.

Epati says the Pacific Islands have made progress in helping to contend with some of these constraints through promoting a Special Requirements Fund as part of the Pacific commission, when it is formalized. This is to address the needs of the Pacific Islands countries and territories.

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

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