Monday, October 25, 2010

Issue of high seas for Marshall Islands and Nauru

The Pacific Voyage Media Team 26 October 2010

The Marshall Islands asks for developing nations to respect closure of high seas

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is seeking the support of developing nations to respect the closure of the high seas of countries comprising the Parties of to the Nauru Agreement to purse seine fishing.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) includes Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

These countries are the owners of 25% of the world’s tuna supply.

Joseph Tibon, Technical Policy Officer of the Marshall Islands says that during the negotiations here at the Convention of Biological Diversity, it is encouraging developing nations to support the scheme.

“We are showcasing PNA countries approach for developing nations to support,” Tibon stresses.

The high seas including the Marshall Islands will be closed to purse seine fishing vessels licensed to fish in their waters.

The closed high seas area stretches from Palau and Papua New Guinea in the West to Kiribati in the East, Marshall Islands in the North to Tuvalu in the South.

The high seas closure covers an area of 4,555,000 sq km.

The PNA also has 100% observer coverage of purse seine vessels to monitor compliance of the high seas area closure.

The high seas closure might be an issue for developing nations because it could overlap with international seas.

Tibon states that Marshall Islands coastal and marine biodiversity are very important because it is the nations’ source of food and livelihood.

With this in mind, RMI also wants new agreements to the access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of utilization and the protection of marine stocks.

L - R Tyrone Deiye (Nauru) and Joseph Tibon (Marshall Islands)

Nauru protects biodiversity

Nauru shares similar issues with the rest of the Pacific Island nations which it wants to address during the remaining days of the Convention of Biological Diversity.

Two issues are vital to Nauru  says Tyrone Deiye, the Environment Policy Officer of the Department of Commerce Industry and Environment, the access to  genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of their utilization and the protection of marine stocks.

“Small islands have only few resources and we want to protect it,” Deiye cites.

As a party to the Convention, Nauru says that most of the developed countries come to the small island states and access their resources.  Take for example, the fish stocks in the Pacific Ocean that is in danger of depletion if bigger countries make their way to the region’s waters.
Nauru is one of the countries which comprisesthe Parties to the Nauru Agreement.  The rest of the countries are  Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands,  Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

The PNA aims to improve the region's tuna fisheries through sustainable management and innovation.

“The Pacific Ocean is now the hunting environment,” he says.

Nauru is also concerned about the access and benefit sharing of natural biodiversity.

The access benefit sharing regime will allow the sharing of  benefits derived from their use.  Genetic resources whether from plant, animal or micro-organisms may be used for different purposes (e.g. basic research, commercialisation of products). Users of genetic resources may include research institutes, universities and private companies operating in various sectors such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, agriculture, horticulture and biotechnology.

Benefits derived from genetic resources may include the result of research and development carried out on genetic resources, the transfer of technologies which make use of those resources, participation in biotechnological research activities, or monetary benefits arising from the commercialisation of products based on genetic resources. One example of monetary benefits could be the sharing of royalties arising from patented products based on genetic resources.

The Conference of the Parties established the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (a subsidiary body of the Conference of the Parties) with the mandate to develop guidelines and other approaches to assist Parties with the implementation of the access and benefit-sharing provisions of the Convention.

Nauru like the rest of the PNA countries wants the depletion of its marine stocks, especially the tuna stocks by agreeing in to closing of pockets in high seas from commercial fishing.  He says that the developing nations, fish stocks are already running out which makes them come to the smaller nations for resources.

Nauru is in unity will the PNA countries in encouraging developing nations to support the closure of the high seas to purse seine fishing.

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