29. Ms Barbara Hanchard, Executive Officer, Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara, Solomon Islands, made a presentation entitled "The Implementation of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in the Pacific Islands". Her presentation noted that the development of the Code of Conduct was fundamentally a global response to the progressive failure of countries to manage fisheries. It was pointed out that the Code provided the international community with a framework of principles, goals and elements for action with which to implement responsible fishery policies and legislation based on conservation, management and development of living marine resources, while taking into account the ecosystem and biodiversity. Ms Hanchard stressed that the Code covered principles and standards not only for the conservation and management of fisheries, per se, but also all aspects of fisheries including capture, processing and trade of fish and fishery products, fishing operations, aquaculture, fisheries research and the integration of fisheries into coastal area management.
30. The presentation commenced by providing a brief overview of the Code of Conduct. It then addressed developments in fisheries management in the Pacific Islands which sought to give effect to the Code of Conduct and other international agreements that provided principles and international standards for the conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources. This part of the presentation focused especially on a review of fishery management initiatives that had been developed and which were consistent with the principles of the Code and other international instruments. A copy of the paper on which the presentation was based is attached as Appendix I.
31. The Workshop expressed the view that fisheries management in the Pacific Islands had been generally forward looking in approach and that the regional instruments developed and implemented were consistent with the concepts and principle enshrined in the Code of Conduct. However, it was recognized that many of these instruments were directed primarily towards highly migratory fish stocks being harvested by foreign fishing fleets. The Workshop noted that the greatest challenge for Pacific Island countries was to maximize benefits from their tuna resources. It was further noted that these resources were the most valuable resource for many countries in the region and that in some cases they generated a substantial proportion of national income.
32. The Workshop noted that there were no regional fishing capacity limits in place and although the only tuna species considered close to being overfished were bigeye and yellowfin the region's fisheries could be described as "open access" in character. The recently negotiated Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, when in force, would be required to establish capacity and/or effort restrictions. This meant that Parties to the Convention would no longer be permitted to allow an "open access" policy and issues of allocation would require closer attention by island countries. The Workshop noted that some Pacific Island countries were fearful of limiting access as they believed that such limitations would lead to a reduction in revenue from their licensing arrangements with foreign fleets. It was further noted that in some instances rights based management was being encouraged in the Pacific Islands for both small-scale and industrial fisheries.
33. The Workshop recognized that the Regional Register of Foreign Fishing Vessels maintained by the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) on behalf of its Members had been an effective tool in regulating the operation of foreign vessels operating in the Pacific Islands. The Register had also been highly beneficial to countries in that it had encouraged compliance by vessels with national laws.
34. Some participants noted the aspirations of their countries to establish viable and responsible domestic fishing industries as a means of replacing existing licensing arrangements with foreign fleets. The Workshop recognized that such action would bring more stable and greater social and economic benefit to island countries.
35. In response to a query on the ARGOS type of satellite monitoring system being trialed in a domestic fishery, the Workshop was advised that this system was based on orbiting satellites and had to "store and send" data that introduced delays of up to seven hours in reporting to a fisheries monitoring centre. Furthermore, it was noted that ARGOS had a disadvantage in that it was a one way system and vessels could not be "polled". Systems based on Inmarsat or other similar communication systems did not have these disadvantages. However, for developing countries and small-sized vessels, the Workshop recognized that cost was an important consideration in selecting a vessel monitoring system (VMS).