Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)
The Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (“Convention”) was opened for signature at Honolulu, Hawaii on 5 September 2000. The Convention entered into force on 19 June 2004—six months after the deposit of the thirteenth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession. The Convention implemented the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 and the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
Under Article 3.3, the Convention applies to all stocks of highly migratory fish (as listed in Annex I of the Convention on the Law of the Sea) within the Convention Area, except sauries.
The Contracting Parties are Australia, China, Canada, the Cook Islands, the European Community, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Japan, Kiribati, South Korea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei (as a fishing entity), Tonga, Tuvalu, the United States, and Vanuatu. In addition, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Tokelau, and Wallis and Fatuna are Participating Territories. Belize, Indonesia, Senegal, Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Vietnam are Cooperating Non-Members (“CNMs”). The Contracting Parties, the Participating Territories, and CNMs are referred to collectively as “CCMs.”
According to Article 3.1 of the Convention, the Convention Area includes all of the waters of the Pacific Ocean that are bounded to the south and east by a line that runs from the south coast of Australia due south along the 141º meridian of east longitude to its intersection with the 55º parallel of south latitude; then due south along the 150º meridian of east longitude to its intersection with the 60º parallel of south latitude; then due east along the 60º parallel of south latitude to its intersection with the 130º meridian of west longitude; then due north along the 130º meridian of west longitude to its intersection with the 4º parallel of south latitude; then due west along the 4º parallel of south latitude to its intersection with the 150º meridian of west longitude; and then due north along the 150º meridian of west longitude.
Under Article 9.6 of the Convention, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (“WCPFC” or “Commission”) has international legal personality and the legal capacity necessary for it to perform its functions and to achieve its objectives. The privileges and immunities of the WCPFC and its officers in the territory of a Contracting Party are determined by an agreement between the Commission and that Contracting Party.
Under Article 2, the objective of the Convention is to promote and effectively manage the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean. The functions of the WCPFC, according to Article 10 of the Convention, include:
- Determining, through defined criteria, the total allowable catch, or the total level of fishing effort, within the Convention Area for certain highly migratory fish stocks and adopt other Conservation and Management Measures (“CMMs”) as needed in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of those fish stocks;
- When necessary, adopting CMMs and other recommendations for non-target species and species that are associated with target stocks in order to maintain or restore populations so that their reproduction does not become seriously threatened;
- Promoting cooperation and coordination between members of the Commission so that the CMMs for highly migratory fish stocks on the high seas are compatible with measures in areas under national jurisdiction;
- Encouraging scientific research and analyzing the relevant scientific advice, evaluating the status of the fish stocks, and compiling and disseminating relevant data (including statistical, economic, and other relevant fisheries-related data);
- Adopting international minimum standards that would apply to the responsible conduct of fishing operations; and
- Establishing cooperative systems for monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement (such as a vessel monitoring system).
Under Article 7 of the Convention, principles and measures for the conservation and management of fisheries in the waters in the Convention Area under national jurisdiction are the responsibility of the coastal state. But, according to Article 8, CMMs established by the Commission for the high seas and the measures adopted for areas under national jurisdiction must be compatible, and measures adopted for the areas under national jurisdiction must not undermine the effectiveness of the Commission’s CMMs. In terms of the Commission’s CMMs, according to Article 10, the Commission is authorized to regulate the quantity and size of a species or stock that can be caught, the level of fishing effort, fishing capacity (such as limits on fishing vessel numbers, types and sizes), the areas and periods open for fishing, the fishing gear and technology that can be used, as well as fishing in particular subregions of the Convention Area. When developing the criteria to be used in determining the allocation among the CCMs of the total allowable catch or the total level of fishing effect, the Commission will consider: (a) the status of the fish stocks and existing levels of fishing effort; (b) the respective interests, past and present fishing patterns and practices, as well as the amount of the catch that is used for domestic consumption; (c) historic catch; (d) the needs of small island developing states (“SIDS”), territories and possessions that are overwhelmingly dependent on the use of marine resources for their economies, food supplies, and livelihoods; (e) contributions to the conservation and management of the stocks, such as providing scientific research and accurate data; (f) records of compliance with the CMMs; (g) the needs of coastal communities that depend on fishing; (h) when a state has a limited Exclusive Economic Zone (“EEZ”), but is surrounded by the EEZs of other states; (i) when a SIDS is composed of non-contiguous group of islands that are separated by the high seas; and (j) the fishing interests of coastal states, especially SIDS, territories, and possessions, in situations where the fish stocks are also present in areas under their national jurisdiction.
Under Article 5, the CCMs are obligated to adopt CMMs that promote the long-term sustainability of highly migratory fish stocks in the Convention Area. These measures should be based on the best scientific evidence available and be designed to maintain or restore stocks at levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield. These measures should follow the precautionary approach and be based on an assessment of the impacts of fishing, other human activities and environmental factors on the stocks and aim to protect the biodiversity in the marine environments. As part of the precautionary approach, as detailed in Article 6, there are stock-specific reference point, developed on the basis of the best scientific information available, and a series of actions to be taken if those limits are exceeded. The CMMs, according to Article 5, are intended to prevent, or stop, over-fishing and excess fishing capacity, as well as to ensure that fishing effort levels are compatible with the sustainable use of fishery resources in the Convention Area. The CMMs can also be used to reduce waste, discards, catch by lost or abandoned gear, pollution from fishing vessels, catch of non-target species, and impacts on associated or dependent species (such as endangered species), as well as to encourage the development and use of environmentally-safe and cost-effective fishing gear and techniques.
The Convention, in Article 11, established, as subsidiary bodies to the WCPFC, a Technical and Compliance Committee (“TCC”) and a Scientific Committee (“SC”). The SC, according to Article 12, is responsible for obtaining the best scientific information available, identifying data needs, and recommending a research plan to the WCPFC. In addition, the duties of the Scientific Committee include: reviewing and commenting on the reports prepared for the WCPFC by scientific experts; promoting cooperation in scientific research concerning highly migratory stocks, non-target species, and species associated with or dependent on such stocks in the Convention Area; and reporting to the WCPFC on its findings concerning the status of these stocks and recommendations concerning their conservation and management.
Under Article 14 of the Convention, the TCC is tasked with: providing the WCPFC with information, technical advice and recommendations on implementing and complying with the CMMs; monitoring and evaluating compliance with the CMMs and making relevant recommendations; and reviewing the implementation of cooperative measures in regards to monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement that are adopted by the WCPFC and making relevant recommendations. In addition, under Article 11.7, a Northern Committee (“NC”) has been established that makes recommendations for CMMs that concern fish stocks that are mostly found in the part of the Convention Area that is north of 20° parallel of north latitude.
Under Article 24 of the Convention, each member of the Commission is obligated to take measures to ensure that fishing vessels flying its flag comply with the Convention and the CMMs adopted by the WCPFC (and do not participate in any activity which undermines the CMMs’ effectiveness). To accomplish these aims, each member of the Commission must specifically authorize each fishing vessel flying its flag that wants to fish in the Convention Area, beyond areas of its national jurisdiction, for highly migratory fish stocks. Each member of the Commission must keep a Record of Fishing Vessels, which lists all vessels that are entitled to fly its flag and fish in the Convention Area, and transmit that list, and any subsequent modifications, to the Commission. The CCMs need to ensure that all vessels flying its flags are placed on the WCPFC’s Record of Fishing Vessels before the vessels commence fishing. Fishing vessels are also not allowed to conduct fishing in areas under the national jurisdiction of any other state besides its flag states, unless they have received a valid authorization from that other state. In addition, under Article 23.5, each member of the Commission should enact, to the greatest extent possible, measures to ensure that its nationals, as well as fishing vessels owned or controlled by its nationals that fish in the Convention Area, comply with the Convention and the CMMs. This can involve entering into agreements with the flag states of the fishing vessels to facilitate enforcement.
The Commission has also established an Interim Register of Non-Member Carrier and Bunker Vessels, which lists certain fish carriers and bunker vessels (i.e., vessels that are used to supply another vessel’s engine with oil or coal) flying the flags of non-CCM countries. Vessels on the Interim Register are authorized to be in the Convention Area and to receive transshipments of highly migratory fish stocks and to bunker and supply vessels fishing for highly migratory fish stocks in the Convention Area that are flying the flag of any of the CCM countries. The Interim Register is set to expire after the Commission’s annual meeting in 2012, unless the list is renewed.
With respect to non-members of the Convention, according to Article 32, members of the Commission are obligated to take measures, consistent with the Convention, to deter the activities of vessels flying the flags of non-parties that undermine the effectiveness of the CMMs adopted by the Commission. The Commission will also inform non-member states of any activities by its fishing vessels that affect the implementation of the objectives of the Convention. Furthermore, members of the Commission should request that these non-member states with vessels fishing in the Convention Area cooperate in the implementation of the CMMs.
These cooperating states can apply to become CNMs and receive fishery benefits, such as participatory rights, based on their commitment and compliance with the CMMs. At the annual meeting of the Commission in December 2009, specific participatory rights for 2010 for each of the CNMs (i.e., Indonesia, Belize, El Salvador, Mexico, Senegal, Ecuador, and Vietnam) were decided upon. In addition to granting participatory rights, the Commission can also impose conditions as part of its granting of CNM status. For example, out of concern that Ecuador had been involved in numerous illegal, unreported and unregulated (“IUU”) fishing incidents, the Commission required that all of Ecuador’s vessels be equipped with Commission and Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (“FFA”) vessel monitoring systems, which would be operational the whole time the vessels are in the Convention Area. See Benefit Sharing for more information on CNM status.
Under Article 29 of the Convention, members of the Commissions are supposed to encourage their fishing vessels to conduct transshipment in port. Transshipment is the unloading of fish on board a fishing vessel to another fishing vessel (either at sea or in port). Transshipment in an area under national jurisdiction will occur subject to that state’s applicable law—whereas transshipment on the high seas in the Convention Area is subject to the terms and conditions of the Convention. Subject only to specific exceptions granted by the WCPFC, transshipment at sea by purse-seine vessels operating within the Convention Area is prohibited. Members of the Commission can establish some of its ports as transshipment ports, and the WCPFC will circulate to its members a list of these ports that are available for transshipment. The WCPFC also has procedures to obtain and verify data on the quantity and species transshipped (both in port and at sea) in the Convention Area and when transshipment has been completed. And while the Convention states that every effort will be made to minimize disruptions to fishing operations, according to Article 4 of Annex III on the Terms and Conditions for Fishing, operators of vessels must assist persons authorized by the WCPFC for inspections and allow them to have the full access necessary to carry out their duties regarding the regulation of transshipment.
To combat IUU fishing incidents, the WCPFC has adopted a CMM establishing a list of vessels presumed to have carried out IUU activities in the Convention Area. Under the provision of this CMM, the Commission will approve, at its annual meeting, an IUU Vessel List which contains vessels that have engaged in fishing activities within the Convention Area in ways that have been found to undermine the Convention and the CMMs. At least 120 days before the TCC annual meeting, the CCMs can report, accompanied by sufficient evidence and details, vessels they believe are engaged in IUU activities in the Convention Area for inclusion on the TCC’s Provisional IUU Vessel List. For example, any fishing vessel that is not on the Record of Fishing Vessels, but is found to be harvesting relevant species in the Convention Area (and not fishing exclusively in the waters under the jurisdiction of its flag state) is presumed to be carrying out IUU fishing activities. The TCC will not include a vessel on the IUU Vessel List if the vessel’s flag state demonstrates: (a) the vessel in question fished in a manner consistent with the Convention and the CMMs, or with the laws of a coastal state if it was only fishing in waters under its national jurisdiction, or the vessel only fished exclusively for species not covered by the Convention; (b) effective action was taken to respond to the IUU activities (including prosecution or imposing sanctions that were sufficiently severe); or (c) that the case concerning the IUU fishing vessel has been resolved to the satisfaction of the CCM that originally reported the vessel and the vessel’s flag state. Once the Commission adopts the IUU Vessel List, the flag state should take all necessary measures to eliminate these IUU fishing activities (such as withdrawing the vessel’s registration or fishing license). In addition, the other CCMs are obligated to take measures in response, according to international law and their own legislation, such as not authorizing listed vessels to land, transship, refuel, or resupply at their ports and prohibiting commercial transactions, imports, landings, and transshipments of species covered under the Convention from listed vessels. As decided at the Commission’s annual meeting in December 2009, there are currently five vessels on the IUU Vessel List.
Much of the WCPFC’s regulatory framework was established during the Preparatory Conference from 2001 to 2004, and became operational during the WCPFC’s Inaugural Session in December 2004.
The WCPFC, which is comprised of representatives of the Contracting Parties, is the highest authority. The WCPFC elects a Chairman and Vice-Chairman (of different nationalities) from among the Contracting Parties for a two-year term, with eligibility for re-election. There is a permanent Secretariat, with an Executive Director (who is appointed by the Commission for a four-year term subject to one renewal) as the chief administrative officer and other staff as may be required. The WCPFC’s headquarters is in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. The WCPFC is required to hold an annual meeting and can call any other meetings as it deems necessary to carry out its functions. At these meetings, the WCPFC: makes determinations on applications for membership (including CNM status); considers annual reports from the members of the Commission, the SC, the NC, the TCC, the Finance and Administration Committee (“FAC”), as well as other summaries of relevant activities; evaluates the CMMs and the monitoring, control and surveillance schemes; and adopts and implements certain measures and recommendations for WCPFC action (including the adoption of non-binding resolutions).
The Contracting Parties, under Article 35, may invite, by consensus, other states and regional economic integration organizations to accede to the Convention and become members of the Commission. Also, under Annex I of the Convention, a fishing entity (i.e., Chinese Taipei) that agrees to be bound by the Convention is allowed to participate in the work of the Commission, including in the decision-making. Even if a state is not a Contracting Party to the Convention, it can apply, each year, to the Commission for CNM status. As part of the application for CNM status, the non-member state must, among other requirements: commit to ensuring that fishing vessels flying its flag comply with the Convention and the CMMs adopted by the Commission; agree to accept high seas boarding and inspections; provide full data on its historical fishing in the Convention Area; and provide details on its current fishing presence in the Convention Area. The TCC initially reviews the application (based, in part, on the state’s record of response to any reported IUU activities by vessels flying its flag and, for renewal applications, the record of compliance with the CMMs), and provides recommendations to the Commission (with the Commission being the body granting final approval). Even if a non-member state does not obtain CNM status, it can be invited to attend the meetings of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies as an observer.
Under Article 11 of the Convention, the SC and the TCC were established as subsidiary bodies to the WCPFC in order to provide advice and expert recommendations in their respective areas of competence. Each member of the Commission can appoint one representative (accompanied by experts and advisers) to each committee. These committees meet prior to the Commission’s annual meeting and prepare a report, generally adopted by consensus, to present to the WCPFC. If the Committee fails to reach consensus, it would present both the majority and minority views in its report to the WCPFC. Within these committees, working groups can be established to handle specific issues, such as technical issues relating to particular fish species. For the NC, since it is only concerned with fish stocks that occur mostly north of the 20º parallel of north latitude, only member of the Commission located in that area or those fishing in that area are included as members of that committee. The NC must adopt, by consensus, recommendations to the Commission (and any measures adopted by the Commission relating to particular stocks and species in this area must be based on the NC’s recommendations). The FAC is focused on the operational issues of running the WCPFC.
Under Article 22 of the Convention, the WCPFC has a mandate to cooperate and collaborate with other relevant intergovernmental organizations, especially with other regional fisheries management organizations (such as the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (“CCAMLR”), the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (“CCSBT”), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (“IOTC”), and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (“IATTC”)), as well as with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (“FAO”). The WCPFC has signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community – Oceanic Fisheries Programme (“SPC-OFP”), the FFA, the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (“SPREP”), the IOTC, the IATTC, the CCSBT, the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (“ISC”) and the Agreement for the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels. Especially when there is an overlap in a covered area with another fisheries management organization, the WCPFC and the other organization are obligated to work together to avoid duplication of measures in the regulations of species. In addition, the Convention emphasizes that the WCPFC should be run in a cost-effective manner. Therefore, the WCPFC and its subsidiary committees are supposed to utilize the services of existing regional organizations and consult, where appropriate, with other fisheries management, technical or scientific organizations. But, where necessary, the WCPFC is authorized to contract with relevant institutions for necessary expert services.
Under Procedural Rule 36, the FAO, as well as other relevant intergovernmental and South Pacific regional organizations, are able to participate, upon invitation, as observers in the work of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies. These intergovernmental organizations with observer status are also given the opportunity to submit written statements that will be distributed to the members of the Commission. At the annual meeting of the WCPFC in December 2009, observers from intergovernmental organizations included the IATTC, the ISC, the FFA, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (“SPC”), and the World Bank.
As part of the implementation of its Regional Observer Programme (“ROP”) (see Compliance and Monitoring), the WCPFC has expressed interest in concluding an observer cross-endorsement agreement with the IATTC. But until an agreement is finalized, vessels crossing from the IATTC Convention Area into the WCPFC Convention Area are still required to pick up a WCPFC observer at the first entry into port in the WCPFC Convention Area. Under the Nauru Agreement (a FFA subregional agreement concerning tuna purse seine fishing licenses in the region), all fishing vessels in waters covered under the Nauru Agreement must carry PNA observers on board. These PNA observers can serve on the high seas in the WCPFC Convention Area, as long as they have been authorized under the WCPFC’s ROP.
In terms of sub-regional agreements, in January 2010, the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tokelau entered into a Cooperation Arrangement (referred to as the Te Vaka Moana Arrangement) concerning the sustainable use and management of fisheries within the Polynesian region. The objectives of the Te Vaka Moana Arrangement are to: strengthen cooperative relations between the participants in order to promote the sustainable use of fisheries resources (including increasing the economic benefit that can be derived from the fisheries and protecting the role of fisheries in the food security of communities); assist with fisheries-related capacity development and enhancing sub-regional capabilities through the sharing of resources (especially as it relates to the monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement of fisheries resources); promote the sharing of fisheries-related information among the participants; enhance the ability of participants to fully and effectively participate in regional organizations and international fora (such as the WCPFC) that deal with fisheries issues; promote cooperation between the participants regarding monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement in both domestic settings and on the high seas; and support and strengthen fisheries development initiatives.
According to Article 20 of the Convention, decision-making by the WCPFC is generally made by consensus (i.e., without formal objections when the decision was made). If all efforts to reach consensus have failed, decisions on questions of substance can be passed by a vote of three-fourths of the members of the Commission voting and present. This supermajority must include a three-fourths majority of the members of the FFA present and voting and a three-fourths majority of the non-members of the FFA present and voting (with no proposal allowed to be defeated by two or fewer votes). Votes on questions of procedure only require a majority approval of the members of the Commission present and voting. Certain decisions (such as amendments to the Convention, decisions on the allocation of the total allowable catch or the total level of fishing effort (including decisions on the exclusion of vessel types), accession to the Convention, budget decisions, financial regulations, and rules of procedures) can only be passed by consensus.
A decision by the WCPFC will become binding 60 days after the date of its adoption or 30 days from the date the review panel approves a challenged decision and reports its approval to the Executive Director.
Under Article 20.4, to encourage decision making by consensus, the Chairman of the Commission can appoint a conciliator to reconcile the differences between the members of the Commission. If this process fails and a decision gets approved by a less-than-unanimous vote (or a member of the Commission was not present when the decision was adopted), under Article 20.6, that member of the Commission can challenge the decision of the WCPFC by submitting a written application for review to the Executive Director within 30 days of the adoption of the decision by the WCPFC. To evaluate this application, a review panel will be established, which will consist of three members appointed from an approved list, maintained by the FAO, of experts in the field of fisheries. The member(s) of the Commission submitting the application for review will appoint one member of the review panel. The Chairman will appoint one member of the review panel, and the last member of the panel will be appointed by agreement between the Chairman and the member(s) seeking review. The applicant(s) and the Chairman must also agree on which member of the review panel will serve as President. If there is no agreement, the President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will make the necessary appointments.
The review panel is required to conduct a hearing within 30 days from its date of appointment. The Executive Director, on behalf of the WCPFC, will provide the review panel with the necessary information for the panel to understand the reasoning behind the WCPFC’s challenged decision. Any other member of the Commission may also submit to the review panel a memorandum relating to the challenged decision. The review panel will reach its decision by majority vote, with any dissenting opinion being attached to the majority’s ruling. The panel will communicate its findings and recommendations, including the reasons behind its decision, to the applicant(s) and the Executive Director within 30 days from the end of the hearing. The Executive Director will then distribute the review panel’s findings to all of the Commission members.
The findings and recommendations of the review panel are required to be limited to the subject matter of the application. The challenged WCPFC decision will be struck down if the decision is found to be inconsistent with the Convention, or if the decision unjustifiably discriminates, in form or in fact, against the applicant(s). If the review panel recommends to the WCPFC that the decision be modified or revoked, at its next annual meeting, the WCPFC must revoke its decision or modify its decision as needed to conform with the review panel’s findings and recommendations.
If there is a dispute over the interpretation or the application of the Convention which involves a fishing entity (i.e., Chinese Taipei) and it cannot be resolved by agreement, at the request of either party to the dispute, the dispute shall be submitted to final and binding arbitration, in accordance with the relevant rules of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Each CCM must submit an annual report containing certain statistical, biological and other data as required. Part 1 of the Annual Report, which is submitted to the SC, includes information for each CCM on: (a) fisheries information; (b) background (e.g., historical description of national fisheries) (c) flag state reporting that details the activities of national fleets, listed by gear types, in the Convention Area (including trends in each fishery related to changes in fishing patterns, fleet operations, target species, and size composition); (d) coastal state reporting that details activities by foreign and domestic fleets in waters under national jurisdiction (including trends in each fishery related to changes in fishing patterns, fleet operations, target species, and size composition); (e) socioeconomic factors; (f) disposal of catch (such as fresh or frozen) and market destination (export of import); (g) onshore developments (such as processing plants or support facilities); (h) prospects of the fishery (such as long-term viability and if the fisheries are expanding or contracting); (i) the status of tuna fishery data collection systems (including information on log sheet data collection and verification, the observer program, the port sampling program, and unloading and transshipment); and (j) research activities focused on both target and non-target species. For the fisheries information, each CCM is required to provide data for its national fleet in the Convention Area, including information on, among other requirements: annual catch and effort estimates, number of vessels, annual distribution of target species catch and effort, and estimated annual coverage of operational catch/effort, port sampling and observer data. This information must be broken down by gear type (such as longline, purse seine, pole-and-line, troll, handline, ringnet, and driftnet). In Part 2 of the Annual Report, which is submitted to the TCC, the CCMs report on their implementation of the CMMs, as well as monitoring and inspection activities, surveillance activities, investigations and prosecution activity, and other relevant information. Monitoring and inspection activities includes the vessel monitoring system, transshipments inspections, at-sea inspections, port inspections, observer monitoring, monitoring of trade and domestic distribution of highly migratory fish species, inspections of domestic-only vessels, and high seas boarding and inspection of flag vessels. Part 1 Reports are posted on the WCPFC website, but Part 2 Reports are classified as confidential and only available to other CCMs.
Under Article 24, each CCM must produce a Record of Fishing Vessels that are entitled to fly its flag and are authorized to fish, beyond the areas of national jurisdiction, in the Convention Area and submit it to the Commission. See Functions for more information on the Record of Fishing Vessels.
The Commission has established a Vessel Monitoring System (“VMS”) that requires each vessel that fishes in certain parts of the high seas in the Convention Area (south of 20°N and above 20°N, east of 175°E) to use near real-time satellite position-fixing transmitters (i.e., a mobile transceiver unit/automatic location communicator (“MTU/ALC”)) in order to track the positions and movements of fishing vessels. If a vessel is initially fishing in the covered area but then moves north of 20°N and west of 175°E, it still needs to keep its MTU/ALC activated. Generally, vessels report their position to the Commission automatically. Automated alerts have also been established to alert the Commission when vessels enter or exit the high seas of the Convention Area. If a vessel is fishing in waters under the national jurisdiction of another member of the Commission (besides it flag state), it must comply with the requirements of that coastal state in regards to the use of near real-time satellite position-fixing transmitters. The Commission enacted security measures to protect access to the data. The flag states are obligated to ensure that their fishing vessels comply with the VMS requirements. The FFA also has a VMS program, and fishing vessels on the high seas have the option of reporting data to the Commission through the FFA’s VMS. In addition, any CCM can request that the waters under its national jurisdiction be included in the Commission’s VMS (with New Zealand being the first county to sign up for this option).
The WCPFC has entered into a Data Exchange Agreements with the SPC in regards to aggregated catch and effort data and with the IATTC in regarding to operational-level tuna fisheries data (such as catch and effort, observer, unloading, transshipment and port inspection data), aggregated catch and effort data, and other relevant monitoring, control, surveillance, inspection and enforcement data. The Commission has also adopted rules governing the protection and dissemination of data that is compiled by the WCPFC.
See Data Information Sharing, Exchange, and Harmonization.
In addition, under Articles 23.5 and 25 of the Convention, when a member of the Commission commences an investigation, upon the request of another WCPFC member, into potential violations of the Convention and the CMMs by fishing vessels flying its flag or its nationals, that member must submit a report, within two months, on the progress of the investigation, to the Commission and the member who made the investigation request. That member of the Commission must also provide a final report on the outcome of the investigation. All Commission members must also report annually to the WCPFC on sanctions imposed in response to violations of the Conventions and any CMMs. See Compliance and Monitoring for more information on the investigation process.
Funding for the operational costs of the Commission is from a combination of assessed contributions from members of the Commission, voluntary contributions (i.e., the Japan Trust Fund), a fund to provide assistance to developing country members, and any other monies the WCPFC may receive. The assessed contributions for members of the Commission are comprised of: (a) a basic fee divided equally among the members (10%); (b) a fee based upon national wealth and the country’s level of development (20%); and (c) a variable fee based on the total catch of all stocks covered by the Convention that are taken in areas beyond national jurisdiction and within the EEZs (discounted by a factor of 0.4 if the catch was within the EEZ of a developing country member or territory of the Commission and the vessel flies that country’s flag).
Under Article 18, the WCPFC is required to draft the budget by consensus. If a member of the Commission is in arrears in paying its contribution for two years, that member will not be allowed to participate in WCPFC decisions. Unless otherwise decided, the expenses for a review panel to challenge a WCPFC decision are apportioned according to: (a) 70% by the applicant Commission member (and if there is more than one challenging member, divided equally among those members); and (b) 30% from the annual budget of the WCPFC. In addition, an applicant seeking CNM status needs to commit to make financial contributions to the Commission in the amount that it would be assessed if it became a Contracting Party. This requirement does not apply to entities that are not eligible to become members of the Commission. Otherwise, CNMs are encouraged to make voluntary contributions to the budget of the WCPFC.
The proposed budget for 2010 was US $5.4 million. At the annual meeting of the Commission in December 2009, the FAC reported a potential budget problems as a result of higher than anticipated VMS expenses (as nearly double the number of vessels that were forecasted had reported to the Commission’s VMS in 2009), and recommended finding additional sources of funding (such as instituting a fee for observer delegations, recovering air time costs associated with the VMS program, and increasing financial contributions from the CNMs).
The Convention aims to maintain the viability of highly migratory fish stocks in the Convention Area, with the CMMs intended to protect those species that are in danger of falling below sustainability levels. If the WCPFC is successful in protecting the fish stocks in the Convention Area, benefits will not have to be allocated. Otherwise, if fish stocks are still threatened and an allocation of total allowable catch or total allowable fishing levels is necessary, the members of the Commission will decide what measures need to be taken and the levels of restrictions to be imposed. Under Article 10.4, decisions on the allocation of the total allowable catch or the total level of fishing effort, including decisions concerning the exclusion of vessel types, can only be passed by the consensus of all of the members of the Commission. For example, the members of the Commission agreed that all of the CCMs, with the exception of South Korea, are obligated to take necessary measures to ensure that their fishing vessels in 2010 do not increase, from 2002-2004 levels, their total fishing effort for northern Pacific bluefin tuna in the area north of 20° N. There is also a CMM in place for bigeye and yellowfin tuna that aims to achieve a 30% reduction in fishing mortality for bigeye tuna in the purse seine fishery between 20°N and 20°S and a reduction in the risk of overfishing of yellowfin tuna. As part of the CMM, the Commission has closed two western high seas pockets, effective 1 January 2010, to purse-seine fishing (but denied requests to close two additional seas pockets and the entire high seas portion of the Convention Area between 20°N and 20°S).
In approving applications for CNM status, the Commission grants each applicant specific participatory rights in the Convention Area. For example, among other restrictions imposed on the country, Belize’s catches of bigeye tuna are limited in 2010 to 803.25 metric tons (its average catch level from 2001 to 2004) and its catches of yellowfin tuna are limited to 2,000 metric tons. For El Salvador, its fishing on the high seas in the Convention Area is restricted to 29 days of fishing in 2010 and to only four unique purse seine vessels in the EEZs of Commission members.
Under Article 25 of the Convention, each member of the Commission is obligated to enforce the provisions of the Convention and any CMMs that are adopted by the WCPFC. When non-compliance is suspected, all relevant investigations and judicial proceedings are required to be carried out expeditiously. Upon the request of another member of the Commission and when provided with sufficient information, a WCPFC member must fully investigate alleged violations of the Convention or any of the CMMs committed by fishing vessels flying its flag. If there is sufficient evidence of a violation, that member is required to refer the case to the relevant domestic authorities and, when appropriate, detain the vessel involved. In addition, each member of the Commission is obligated to establish procedures in its domestic law to ensure that when vessels flying its flag commit serious violations of the Convention or any of the CMMs, these vessels will cease fishing activities in the Convention Area and will not be allowed to resume fishing activities until all outstanding sanctions imposed by the flag state concerning the violations have been resolved. If a vessel is involved in unauthorized fishing within waters under the national jurisdiction of a coastal member of the Commission, the flag state must, in accordance with its domestic laws, ensure that the vessel complies with the sanctions imposed by the coastal state or impose appropriate sanctions itself. In addition, according to Article 23.5, members of the Commission should take measures, including entering into agreements with the flag state, to ensure that its nationals, as well as fishing vessels owned or controlled by its nationals, comply with the Convention and the CMMs, and initiate investigations when they receive information that shows the contrary. In responding to violations of the Convention and the CMMs, the sanctions are required to be sufficiently severe to effectively secure compliance, to deter future violations, and to remove the benefits gained from the illegal activity. The Convention also allows for the development and application of non-discriminatory trade measures, which are consistent with international obligations, on any species regulated by the Commission against any state or entity if the activities of their fishing vessels undermine the effectiveness of any of the CMMs.
When in the Convention Area, each fishing vessel must carry on board its authorization papers issued by its flag state and, if applicable, any license issued by a coastal member of the Commission and must produce these papers at the request of an authorized enforcement official from any of the members of the Commission. When a fishing vessel is in waters under national jurisdiction and is not authorized to fish, all fishing equipment needs to be on board the vessel and cannot be readily available for fishing. The vessel is also required to be marked in accordance with FAO standards and to monitor the international distress and calling frequency. The master and crew of fishing vessels are required to comply with instructions and directions given by an authorized officer of a member of the Commission, including in regards to the boarding and inspection of the fishing vessel. These authorized boardings and inspections are supposed to be conducted, to the extent possible, as to not unduly interfere with the lawful operation of the fishing vessel.
The WCPFC has developed a ROP to collect verified catch data, other scientific data, and additional information related to fishing in the Convention Area and to monitor the implementation of the CMMs adopted by the WCPFC. The members of the Commission have committed to provide a sufficient level of coverage in the Convention Area in order to receive appropriate data and information on catch levels and other related fisheries issues. The ROP is coordinated with existing regional, sub-regional and national observers programs and consists of qualified independent and impartial observers. The ROP applies to all fishing vessels in the Convention Area, except those that operate exclusively within the water under the national jurisdiction of its flag state. Each CCM must ensure that all applicable fishing vessels flying its flag will accept an observer from the Commission’s ROP. A vessel is given a reasonable notice concerning the placement of a ROP observer, and the observer must not unduly interfere with the lawful operation of the vessel. The Commission established an Intersessional Working Group to fully develop the ROP. Agreement among the members of the Commission has already been reached concerning: minimum standards, vessel safety checks, observer training qualifications, liability and insurance, Standard Operating Procedures for observer deployment, authorization of de-briefers and requirements for de-briefing, observer placement costs (which are to be paid by the observer provider), the fisheries to be monitored, coverage levels, the establishment of a cadre of observers, and the use of ROP workbooks. But, agreement still has not been reached concerning vessel size limits (such as whether small vessels can carry observers), the source of observers, definitions for certain key terms, WCPFC/IATTC observer cross-endorsement, ROP data management options (including cost concerns), as well as other issues. As of January 1, 2010, the Commission claimed 100% observer coverage for purse seiners and catch retention, as requested in the CMM for bigeye and yellowfin tuna.
In addition, the Commission has developed an IUU list of fishing vessels that have engaged in activity that is found to undermine the effectiveness of the CMMs. See Functions for more information.
Under Article 21 of the Convention, non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”) are granted the opportunity to attend the meetings of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies as observers. Under Rule 36 of the WCPFC’s Rules of Procedure, if a NGO that deals with matters relevant to the implementation of the Convention wants to obtain observer status, it must notify the Executive Director of the Commission. Unless a majority of the members of the WCPFC object, that NGO will be granted observer status, which will remain in effect until the status is revoked by the Commission. The NGOs that have been approved as observers may, upon the invitation of the Chairman and the approval of the Commission, make oral statements on relevant issues. In addition, they may also submit, with the approval of the Chairman, relevant written statements to the WCPFC, which would be distributed at the meetings of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies and would be available for consideration by the members of the Commission in their decision-making. At the annual meeting of the WCPFC in December 2009, observers from NGOs included Birdlife International, Earth Island Institute, Greenpeace, International Sustainable Seafood Foundation, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Marine Stewardship Council, Pacific Island Tuna Industry Association, the World Tuna Purse Seine Organisation, and World Wide Fund for Nature. Intergovernmental organizations and states can also participate as observers, see Relationships and Organizational Structure for more information. Despite this participation in meetings, only members of the Commission have the ability to vote on decisions.
Under Article 42, a Contracting Party may, by written notification addressed to the depositary (New Zealand), withdraw from the Convention. Unless the notification specifies a later date, this withdrawal will take effect one year after the date the notification is received. Withdrawal from the Convention does not affect the financial obligations already incurred by the Contracting Party.
The Commission has adopted CMMs concerning: (a) the Record of Fishing Vessels and Authorization to Fish (CMM 2009-01); (b) Cooperating Non-Members (CMM 2009-11); (c) Specifications for the Marking and Identification of Fishing Vessels (CMM 2004-03); (d) Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna (CMM 2008-01); (e) South Pacific Albacore (CMM 2005-02); (f) North Pacific Albacore (CMM 2005-03); (g) Mitigating the Impact of Fishing on Seabirds (CMM 2007-04); (h) Swordfish (CMM 2009-3); (i) Striped Marlin in the Southwest Pacific (CMM 2006-04); (j) Sharks (CMM 2009-04); (k) the Commission Vessel Monitoring System (CMM 2007-02); (l) the Regional Observer Program (CMM 2007-01); (m) Boarding and Inspection Procedures (CMM 2006-08); (n) Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Activities Vessel List (CMM 2007-03); (o) Sea Turtles (CMM 2008-03); (p) Prohibition on the Use of Large Scale Driftnets on the High Seas (CMM 2008-04); (q) the Application of High Seas Fish Aggregation Device (“FAD”) Closures and Catch Retention (CMM 2009-02); (r) Prohibition on Fishing on Data Buoys (CMM 2009-05); (s) Regulation of Transshipment (CMM 2009-06); (t) Pacific Bluefin Tuna (CMM 2009-07); (u) Charter Notification Scheme (CMM 2009-08); (v) Vessels Without Nationality (CMM 2009-09); and (w) the Monitoring of Landings of Purse Seiners at Ports to Ensure Reliable Catch Data by Species (CMM 2009-10). The Commission has also passed non-binding resolutions on the incidental catch of seabirds (Res. 2005-01), the reduction of overcapacity (Res. 2005-02), non-target fish species (Res. 2005-03), and on the Aspirations of Small Island Developing States and Territories (Res. 2008-01).
- Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, available at http://www.wcpfc.int/.
- Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency - WCPFC, available at http://www.ffa.int/wcpfc.
- Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean – Sixth Regular Session, 2 Apr. 2010, available at http://www.wcpfc.int/doc/wcpfc6-summary-report-final.
- A. Willcock and I. Cartwright, Conservation implications of allocation under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, WWF Australia and TRAFFIC Oceania (2006), available at http://www.wwf.org.au/publications/traffic-implications-of-allocation-under-wcpcfc/.
- Barbara Hanchard, Participation in a Fisheries Commission and the Adoption of Conservation and Management Measures for Sustainable Use of Transboundary Oceanic Fish Stocks, GEF/UNDP: Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (2007), available at http://www.iwlearn.net/publications/experience-note/expnote_pacific_fisheries.pdf.
- Barbara Hanchard, Presentation on Managing and Conserving Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (2007), available athttp://www.iwlearn.net/publications/ll/hanchard_iwc4_fishstock.ppt/view.
- The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform, World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization (2008), available at http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTARD/Resources/336681-1224775570533/SunkenBillionsFinal.pdf.
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- Preparation of A Strategic Action Programme (SAP) and Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) for the Tumen River Area, Its Coastal Regions and Related Northeast Asian Environs
- Livestock Waste Management in East Asia
- East Asian Seas Region: Development and Implementation of Public Private Partnerships in Environmental Investments
- Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SPREP)
- Ningbo Water and Environment Project - under WB/GEF Partnership Investment Fund for Pollution Reduction in the LME of East Asia
- CTI Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Sector
- Huai River Basin Marine Pollution Reduction
- Prevention and Management of Marine Pollution in the East Asian Seas
- CTI GEF IW: LEARN: Portfolio Learning in International Waters with a Focus on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands and Regional Asia/Pacific and Coral Triangle Learning Processes - under the Coral Triangle Initiative
- Implementation of Global and Regional Oceanic Fisheries Conventions and Related Instruments in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
- Reducing Pollution and Rebuilding Degraded Marine Resources in the East Asian Seas through Implementation of Intergovernmental Agreements and Catalyzed Investments (PROGRAM)
- Building Partnerships for the Environmental Protection and Management of the East Asian Seas
- Reducing Environmental Stress in the Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (YSLME)
- Shanghai Agricultural and Non-Point Pollution Reduction project (SANPR) - under WB/GEF Strategic Partnership Investment Fund for Pollution Reduction in the LME of East Asia
- PAS Implementing Sustainable Integrated Water Resource and Wastewater Management in the Pacific Island Countries - under the GEF Pacific Alliance for Sustainability
- Reduction of Environmental Impact from Tropical Shrimp Trawling Through the Introduction of By-Catch Reduction Technologies and Change of Management
- CTI Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action Programme (ATSEA) - under the Coral Triangle Initiative
- Removal of Barriers to the Effective Implementation of Ballast Water Control and Management Measures in Developing Countries (GloBallast)
- Nature Conservation and Flood Control in the Yangtze River Basin
- Guangdong-Pearl River Delta Urban Environment
- Implementing the Strategic Action Programme for the South China Sea
- Mainstreaming Integrated Water and Environment Management
- CTI Strategies for Fisheries Bycatch Management
- Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand (SCS)
- Building Partnerships to Assist Developing Countries to Reduce the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water (GloBallast Partnerships)
- LME-EA Scaling Up Partnership Investments for Sustainable Development of the Large Marine Ecosystems of East Asia and their Coasts (PROGRAM)
- EAS Implementation of the Yellow Sea LME Strategic Action Programme for Adaptive Ecosystem-Based Management
- Global Sustainable Supply Chains for Marine Commodities
- Implementation of Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia
- Coastal and Marine Resources Management in the Coral Triangle-Southeast Asia (CTI-SEA)
- CTI Sulu-Celebes Sea Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SCS)
- CTI West Pacific-East Asia Oceanic Fisheries Management Project - under the Coral Triangle Initiative
- Manila Third Sewerage Project (MTSP) - under WB/GEF Partnership Investment Fund for Pollution Reduction in the LME of East Asia
- Liaoning Medium Cities Infrastructure - under WB/GEF Partnership Investment Fund for Pollution Reduction in the LME of East Asia
- Second Shandong Environment - under WB/GEF Partnership Investment Fund for Pollution Reduction in the LME of East Asia
- Ship Waste Disposal
- Hai River Basin Integrated Water Resources Management
- Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project
- EAS Sustainable Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the West Pacific and East Asian Seas
- Establishment and Operation of a Regional System of Fisheries Refugia in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand
- R2R - Testing the Integration of Water, Land, Forest & Coastal Management to Preserve Ecosystem Services, Store Carbon, Improve Climate Resilience and Sustain Livelihoods in Pacific Island Countries
- EAS Scaling up the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia
- Guangdong Agricultural Pollution Control
- Agusan River Basin Integrated Water Resources Management
- Participatory Planning and Implementation in the Management of Shantou Intertidal Wetland
- PAS Strengthening Coastal and Marine Resources Management in the Coral Triangle of the Pacific - under the Pacific Alliance for Sustainability Program
- World Bank/GEF Partnership Investment Fund for Pollution Reduction in the Large Marine Ecosystems of East Asia (Tranche 1, Installment 2) (from November 05 WP)
- R2R- Pacific Islands Ridge-to-Reef National Priorities – Integrated Water, Land, Forest and Coastal Management to Preserve Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, Store Carbon, Improve Climate Resilience and Sustain Livelihoods