Communique 1998

Tuna Fisheries in the Pacific:

Regional Hopes, National Sovereignty and Community Values

3rd Student Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders

21st-28th September, 1998

Deliberations - The Role of Forum Fisheries Agencies (FFA)

The Conference acknowledged the importance of the FFA in the region. The functions of FFA as embodied in Article VII of the Law of the Sea Convention, in which the agency is directed to:

  1. Collect, analyze, evaluate and disseminate to parties' relevant statistical and biological information with respect to living marine resources and in particular the highly migratory species.
  2. Collect and disseminate to parties' relevant information concerning management procedures, legislation and agreements adopted by other countries both within and beyond the region.
  3. Collect and disseminate to parties' relevant information on prices, shipping, processing and marketing of fish and fish products.
  4. Provide on request to parties technical advise and information assistance in the development of fisheries policies and negotiations and assistance in the issue of licenses and the collection of fees or management matters pertaining to surveillance and enforcement.
  5. Seek to establish working arrangements with relevant regional and international organisations particularly the South Pacific Commission.

After tireless discussions the delegates with the exception of Kiribati agreed that FFA should be given the authority to exercise power to control the terms, agreements and conditions set out by the conference on behalf of all FFA member countries.

Principle of Compatibility

  • The conference acknowledge a framework for management and conservation of the living resources of the high seas beyond the 200 mile limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as provided in part VII of section 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (article 116-120).
  • States have a duty to adopt for their nations measures necessary for conservation of living resources are obliged to cooperate with one another.
  • It was agreed by the countries that the same regulations that apply to EEZ should be applied to the high seas.
  • FFA together with the help of the Pacific Community should negotiate with Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFN) for the sustainable management and conservation of this highly valuable migratory tuna stock in the high seas.

Unified Regulations

  • Member countries agree that some of the regional policies governing relations with DWFN countries should be legally binding and in accordance with the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (details in Nuku'alofa Agreement).

The Role of Women Churches and Non Government Organization's (NGOs)

  • The conference agreed that women play a vital role in tuna fisheries in the commercial area as well as the community level of the Pacific. Churches together with NGOs play an important role in educating people. It is suggested that these bodies be used to create awareness about the management and conservation of tuna fisheries among people.

Multilateral and Bilateral Agreement 

  • The conference recognized and acknowledged the importance of multilateral agreements in the region as integral for the management and conservation of tuna stocks in the smaller island countries. 
  • All except the Republic of Kiribati agreed to the Nuku'alofa Agreement in strengthening their bargaining power as a stronger body through Forum Fisheries Agency.
  • The delegates respected the position of Kiribati and stressed that the door is still open for any further considerations of supporting the Nuku'alofa Agreement.

Colonized People of the Region 

  • The existence and influence of the colonial powers was acknowledged by the Leaders as a problem for the negotiations of multilateral agreements and the unity of the region. It was also recognised that negotiations with French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Fatuna would be difficult due to the French influence. 


  • To conclude the delegations conveyed their appreciation for the opportunity they had to exchange ideas and negotiate policies on tuna fisheries in the Pacific.
  • They expressed their hearty gratitude to the organizers, sponsors, paper presenters and participants for their hard work.
  • Delegates recommended the 4th SPICOL Conference might possibly be hosted by the Solomon Islands.
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