19 Dec 2003

New Zealand ratifies Pacific fisheries convention

4:40 pm on 19 December 2003

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has announced that New Zealand has ratified the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention.

New Zealand becomes the 13th signatory to the convention which is aimed at effective management of the region's tuna fishery, which is currently worth two billion US dollars a year.

New Zealand's ratification has triggered a six month countdown towards the convention taking effect, nine years after it was first mooted by Forum leaders.

The Convention will establish a Commission to manage and conserve the highly migratory tuna fisheries of the region, delivering a full range of management, scientific and compliance functions.

A secretariat is to be based in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Mircronesia.

13 of the 16 Forum members have so far signed, with Palau, Vanuatu and Tuvalu yet to commit to it.

Other states and entities that fish in the region - Japan, the US, China, Korea, Taiwan and the EU, are also yet to ratify or accede to the Convention, but have signalled their intention to do so.