United Nations to vote on tuna this week

   Nadi, Fiji 4 December 2016: A resolution to establish May 2 as World Tuna Day is scheduled for a vote at the United Nations General Assembly later this week.

   World Tuna Day is an initiative of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), which has celebrated the day in the PNA region since 2012 following PNA government fisheries ministers endorsing the annual event in 2011. World Tuna Day is a reminder, said one PNA member when the day was established, of people’s role as “custodians” of this rich natural resource that is a food source for tens of millions of people around the world.

   For the past five years, people in the island region have engaged in essay and art contests and special events celebrating the relationship between Pacific islands people and tuna through fishing, conservation and other activities such as science and art.

   The UN vote is scheduled for December 7 in New York, according to PNA Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn. Seventy-two nations have already endorsed the measure, which gives it a good chance of success. Papua New Guinea Fisheries Minister Mao Zeming and Brownjohn are scheduled to represent PNA at the UN General Assembly vote.

   “We are delighted that the resolution has attracted widespread endorsement of United Nations members,” said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. “It underlines the importance of tuna globally.”

   If the resolution is adopted on December 7, it will mean World Tuna Day will be officially marked worldwide beginning in 2017 and not only within the PNA island region.

   “The Parties to the Nauru Agreement are managing the world's largest sustainable tuna fishery, so it is gratifying to see the outpouring of support for this World Tuna Day resolution among nations of the world,” said PNA Chairperson Sonia Schutz of Kiribati. “Adoption of the resolution will demonstrate global appreciation of the need for wise conservation and management of our tuna resources.”

   The resolution points out the “importance of sustainably managed stocks in achieving the (sustainable development) 2030 Agenda.” It also states that over 80 nations have tuna fisheries.

   “One might ask why we would declare this day World Tuna Day and in my simple and humble opinion, it is a day for all of us to reflect on our cultural heritage and affinity with our oceans that have sustained us, enriched us and has made us strong Pacific Island democracies in our part of the world,” said Secretary of Foreign Affairs Loren Robert of the Federated States of Micronesia when PNA created World Tuna Day in 2011. “We should reinforce our commitment to protecting and preserving them for future generations to come.”

   Then Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Willy Telavi, in 2011 pointed out the deep meaning of fishing and the commercial tuna fishery to the people of the Pacific. “In Tuvalu a fisherman who catches more than 100 tuna in a single day fishing trip is bestowed the title of Tautai (master-fisherman), a very respected figure in the community with high prestige,” he said. “The launching of the First World Tuna Day puts our collective aspirations into real perspective.  It is a day that will continue to remind us as ‘tautai’ or ‘master’ of our small and fragile economies to begin to realize and appreciate the potential and power that are with us as a group to regulate this precious fishery, and at the same time remind us that we are the custodians and rightful owners of this resources and no one can take that right away from us.” 

   “With the vote this coming week to establish World Tuna Day as a United Nations-recognized annual day, the world community is now in a position recognize the importance of tuna to the world,” said Mr. Kumoru. “The fact that the UN vote on this resolution coincides with the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission underlines the international obligation we as managers of the world’s largest tuna fishery have to properly conserve and manage these resources for long-term sustainability.”

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