Majuro 6 March 2019: The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) aim to continue advancing a broad range of fisheries management initiatives during a series of meetings scheduled for Palau in mid-March.

   A series of PNA technical meetings will be conducted from 11-17 March to prepare for the annual PNA Officials meeting from 18-22 March.

   “This is a big year for PNA, with many initiatives in the development stage,” said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. “Our aim is for our PNA Officials to review and endorse several important plans that will then go to PNA Ministers for final endorsement. This will set the stage for implementation beginning in 2020.”

   The agenda for PNA Officials will include:

   • Purse Seine Vessel Day Scheme (VDS): The Scheme continues to operate successfully generating revenues approaching $500 million annually for participating countries and making a major contribution to the current positive status of the region’s tuna stocks, Mr. Kumoru said.  With the Scheme maturing successfully, PNA officials are discussing ways to add further value to the VDS. Capitalization is one initiative under consideration that involves looking at how the Parties can secure agreement for long-term allocation of fishing days that would allow this initiative to proceed. “Establishing a long-term allocation of fishing days for each Party would provide more certainty to industry and Parties in managing the VDS,” said Mr. Kumoru.  The PNA Office will also update the Parties on efforts by individual members to add value to the VDS through expansion of links with the fishing industry to see increased share of the fishery value spent in the PNA economies — in addition to VDS revenues.

   • Longline VDS: The Parties will provide updates on progress to implement the Day Scheme for the longline industry. At least one other Pacific Island country has signaled interest to join PNA’s VDS for longline management. This will be among longline VDS issues to be discussed, Mr. Kumoru said.

   • FAD tracking and monitoring: The results of the FAD tracking and monitoring working group session held in Majuro in February will be reported. The Majuro technical session followed two PNA workshops in 2018 that identified FAD management needs. The Majuro working group drafted language for a PNA FAD registration and tracking measure, including buoy type approval, which will, once endorsed, provide the foundation for the initiative. The FAD draft and recommendations will be reviewed by PNA Officials and are expected to come into force 1 January 2020.

   • High seas bunkering ban: At their annual meeting in Nauru last year, PNA Ministers agreed to wording for development of a 31A measure for 2020. The Officials meeting this month in Palau is expected to consider the final draft text of the measure.

   • IUU fishing and electronic monitoring: PNA leaders from the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia have called, respectively, for eliminating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and for 100 percent electronic monitoring (EM) of fishing vessels. They urged other PNA Parties in the region to support these goals. Mr. Kumoru said key to implementing the vision of leaders is to focus on the practicalities of these initiatives and gaining consensus from the Parties for next steps. “How do we get there?” he said, suggesting what is needed is a strategic plan for implementation of and funding mechanisms for these objectives.

   • Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission: PNA Officials are expected to review outcomes from the most recent WCPFC annual meeting last December in Honolulu, and discuss possible PNA initiatives to be advanced at the December 2019 WCPFC annual meeting in Papua New Guinea.

   • Business plans: At the direction of PNA Ministers, who endorsed PNA’s new strategic plan, a series of business plans are currently being drafted for implementing the three main areas of the strategic plan: a stronger PNA Office, growing PNA influence on tropical tuna management, and identifying and capturing additional economic development opportunities. These will be discussed by PNA Officials in line with launching implementation of the new strategic plan beginning in 2020.

PNA Office developments: Mr. Kumoru will provide an update on progress with the building of the new four-story PNA headquarters building in Majuro. “It is on track for completion by the end of 2019,” he said. In addition, Mr. Kumoru said PNA Officials will discuss ways to secure long-term sustainable funding and cost recovery to support ongoing work of the PNA Office.

   “PNA has many developments in the pipeline to improve and expand management of the fishery,” Mr. Kumoru said. “We are also seeing more activity from individual parties to look at how they can increase revenue-generating opportunities and participation in the sector. The VDS system offers spin-off business development opportunities for the individual Parties and the PNA Office is helping to facilitate some of these initiatives.”