The chief executives of Western Micronesia have thrown their support behind a ban on the destructive fishing practice known as bottom trawling.
Palau President Tommy Remengasau, who has been at the forefront of an international campaign against deep sea trawling, rallied the support of his CNMI and Guam counterparts during the recently concluded 7th Western Micronesian Chief Executives Summit. The three-day conference was held on Saipan on March 20-22, 2007.
During the summit, Remengasau reported that the Pacific Islands Forum and other chief executives at previous meetings had agreed, within the limitations of their political status, to support a temporary ban on deep see trawling. They had also pledged to take a precautionary approach until measures are in place to effectively manage and regulate this damaging practice.
Deep sea trawling is the technique of dragging heavy nets across the seafloor. The objective is to catch any fish at the bottom. The problem is, everything else is caught too. Valuable fish species are brought up and corals are gouged out.
There is an ongoing campaign for the United Nations to ban deep sea trawling. But Remengasau said the UN is not expected to take further action until 2009.
At the same time, negotiations are ongoing with respect to inclusion of Micronesia within relevant fisheries management organizations in the South Pacific. The RFMO is currently being formed, it is scheduled to conduct an organizational meeting at the end of April 2007.
According to Remengasau, the island governments should continue to collectively advocate an interim prohibition on bottom trawling to protect their fisheries and marine diversity.