Coalition to fight over-fishing

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Commerce Manoa Kamikamica. Picture FT FILE

Fiji, New Zealand and Australia will form a regional multilateral coalition to fight against over-capacity and overfishing.

This is a follow on from efforts by the Pacific members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), led by Fiji, to put a pause on global fishing subsidies at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi in February.

Although unsuccessful, the campaign cause is being taken up again by Fiji through this partnership, which was revealed in Parliament last week by Minister for Trade Manoa Kamikamica, who had led the Pacific delegation to the MC13 fisheries subsidy negotiations.

“While we will continue to fight and progress our efforts towards negotiating a comprehensive and balanced agreement on fisheries subsidies, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand will instigate a regional and multi-lateral initiative to form a coalition against over-capacity and over-fishing,” Mr Kamikamica said.

“This idea is a start of what we hope is a group of like-minded countries that are ready to act in terms of disciplining high subsidies that lead to over-capacity and over-fishing and eventually building global momentum.

“The idea is to also reach out for low hanging fruit that can lead to more sustainable practices including channelling investments in the Pacific and other countries.”

While deliberating on the outcome of the MC13 negotiations in Parliament, Mr Kamikamica said the Pacific’s “negotiating posture was to advocate for fair and equitable trade practices that prioritise the needs of developing nations, stability in trading systems, a functioning multilateral system and reliant supply chains that includes smaller nations.”

He said the Pacific parties now also want to create their own fishing industry.

“I have the blessings of the honourable Prime Minister to explore these opportunities seriously and there are actually about, at least I can count, three opportunities on the table to move this forward.

“I liken it, madam Deputy Speaker, to the Arabs getting foreigners to come and mine their oil. Why should we surrender the tuna resource of the Pacific to others to come and harvest for themselves when we should do it in our own backyard?”

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