Cook Islands sets the stage for historic WCPFC20 opening

Rarotonga, Cook Islands – December 4, 2023 – The 20th Annual Meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC20) commences today in the picturesque Cook Islands, with the participation of WCPFC members, participating territories and cooperating non-members, along with representatives from civil society.

This year, WCPFC20 will address pivotal agenda items, leading the strategy for sustainable Pacific tuna fisheries:

  • Latest Update of Tuna Stock Status: Esteemed experts will present the latest assessment of tuna stock status in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. This comprehensive update will be the foundation for discussions on conservation measures and responsible management practices.
  • Climate Change Impacts: Recognizing the profound impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems, WCPFC20 will explore strategies to address challenges posed by rising temperatures, changing currents, and other climate-related factors affecting tuna fisheries.
  • Harvest Strategies: This takes center stage in enhancing the effectiveness of fisheries management. Delegates will focus on developing approaches to ensure sustainable harvests while balancing ecological and economic considerations.

Cook Islands: A steward of Pacific resources

As the host of WCPFC20, the Cook Islands showcases its dedication to sustainable fisheries and collective priorities as a member of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community (SPC), and WCPFC. Pamela Maru, Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) Secretary, notes, “The hosting of WCPFC20 is not just about meetings; it’s about reinforcing the shared responsibility for managing our shared tuna stocks, whilst ensuring Pacific SIDS as large ocean states continue to enjoy access to these resources. Cook Islands, with its rich heritage and commitment to sustainability, welcomes the international community to share in our vision for a thriving Pacific.”

Pamela Maru further reflects on Cook Islands’ history with WCPFC, having hosted the Scientific Committee in August 2017 and the 5th Preparatory Conference in September 2003. “WCPFC20 in Cook Islands signifies more than a meeting; it’s a collective effort to safeguard the future of Pacific fisheries,” concludes Rhea Moss-Christian, WCPFC Executive Director.

About WCPFC: Managing the World’s Largest Tuna Fisheries

Established in 2004 under the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention), WCPFC oversees the world’s largest tuna fisheries. The WCPFC Commission meets annually to consider the advice from its three distinct committees- the Scientific Committee, Technical and Compliance Committee, and the Northern Committee -, to address the conservation and management priorities of highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean.

More information on Cook Islands priorities: Link here