RFMO · WCPFC
In 1979, the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was created in response to the creation of 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) by the United Nation’s Convention of the Law of the Sea. One of the main purposes of the FFA is to collectively negotiate and harmonize Pacific island states control over tuna species within the Pacific Island nations EEZs.
Through a series of multilateral high-level conferences of the FFA members and distant water fishing nations a convention was drafted in order to conserve and manage highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean– thus establishing the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). The first meeting of the WCPFC was held in December 2004.
The WCPFC has clear legal authority to deal with all aspects of conservation and management of fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The WCPFC format for conducting scientific studies is different than that of the IATTC, which has an independent staff. The WCPFC conducts its science through a Scientific Committee (SC) and a Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC). Scientists of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Oceanic Fisheries Program (OFP) are responsible for leading much of the scientific research utilized by the Committees. The SC is required to work closely with the IATTC, particularly in areas of overlap, and with the International Scientific Committee (ISC), which has certain responsibilities for scientific investigation of highly migratory species in the north Pacific area.
Because of differences over how tunas should be managed in the northern portions of the Convention’s region, a Northern Committee was established to deal with management and conservation issues to the north of 20ºN. The Northern Committee refers conservation recommendations on northern species to the Plenary where they will be considered.