Majuro 2 April 2019: Western and Central Pacific tuna stocks are all in healthy condition, reported scientists with the Pacific Community (SPC) at the recently concluded Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Officials annual meeting in Palau.

   “This is in part due to strong, long-term management of the tuna fishery in PNA waters through the purse seine Vessel Day Scheme (VDS),” said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. He pointed to fish aggregating device (FAD) closures, limits on fishing days, and other PNA conservation measures that have contributed to the overall sustainability of the tuna fishery.

   “In comparison to tuna stocks in other oceans, the Pacific tuna stocks are doing well,” he noted. Bigeye, yellowfin, albacore and skipjack are all reported in healthy condition in this region, according to the SPC stock assessment for 2017 presented last month at the PNA officials meeting in Palau. 

   Over the past several years, PNA has maintained the same level of fishing days without increase and this has showed in relatively stable catch tonnage in both the purse seine and longline industries.

   In addition to a “Status of Stocks” report from SPC, the annual officials meeting in Palau dealt with numerous management issues, ranging from an economic overview of the fishery and Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) administration to updates on harvest control rules for skipjack fisheries and the Fisheries Information Management System. They also addressed a number of important administrative issues.

   PNA officials discussed options for increased participation in the fishery and diversifying revenue streams through various initiatives, all of which are made possible by VDS management of the fishery.

   At the direction of PNA officials, the PNA Office is moving forward to address the purchase of the Fisheries Information Management System that underpins PNA management of the fishery, he said.

   The PNA Office delivered an update on the development of a series of business plans that will guide implementation of the overall PNA Strategic Plan that is effective from 2020. Officials endorsed the proposed structure of the business plans that will be under continual review and refinement as progress is made. Officials also agreed to undertake national and ministerial consultations to inform and engage policy makers in the respective Parties as business plan development continues.

   Plans were endorsed by PNA officials to conduct a harvest control strategy workshop and a VDS Officers workshop later this year to further work in these two important areas.

   The Parties continued to discuss options for increasing the value of the VDS, including options for investing revenue. A presentation was provided by an investment fund manager active in the region during the meeting, which continued the process of exposing PNA Parties to options for consideration.

   Mr. Kumoru delivered a report on the PNA headquarters building that is under construction in Majuro. The four-story facility is on schedule for completion by the end of the year and PNA officials discussed the official opening of the new headquarters in early 2020. It was suggested that the opening be linked to the annual PNA meeting, the logistics of which are under discussion by PNA officials.