Bali, Indonesia 3 December 2015: Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's (WCPFC) Executive Director Mr Feleti Teo said it is the collective responsibility of all members and stakeholders  of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to contribute to the solutions to rebuild overfished tuna stocks like Bigeye and by taking immediate urgent action.

This strong message was made at the opening of the commission meeting this morning at the Stone Hotel in Indonesia in Bali.

Teo, who himself hails from the small island of Tuvalu, which is a member nation of the Parties to Nauru Agreement bloc of 8 nations that have the largest skipjack tuna stocks in the Pacific, said since he took over at the WCPFC he has consistently advocated that in light of the scientific advice “doing nothing” is not an option for the Commission.

“The status quo is untenable because the future consequences significantly outweigh the short term benefit that current efforts and fishing practises offer,” he said.

The WCPFC Executive Director’s statements are important because for the last three years the commission had failed to adopt a measure addressing the overfished state of bigeye tuna and other stocks in PNA waters. 

Chief Executive Officer for the PNA, Dr Transform Aqorau said: “The commission needs to now address the gaps in bigeye tuna management on the high seas and from the comments made this morning by the new executive director we hope that this year we may yet come to some suitable outcomes regarding stock conservation.” 

Dr. Aqorau continued:

"Tuna catches in the eight PNA 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) have remained stable over the past five years, while catches on the high seas have increased dramatically over the same period for lack of control. Effort in the high seas has more than doubled in 2015. This is particularly troubling since purse seine bigeye catches in the high seas have been growing steadily, while purse seine bigeye catches in EEZs have been declining and catches in archipelagic waters have been steady.

"The anticipated large increases in bigeye catch on the high seas during 2015 can be expected to substantially damage the WCPFC’s bigeye conservation efforts." 

"We are particularly proud that both Teo and commission chairperson Ms Christian hail from PNA member nations and understand the plight of small island states and the plight of their own nations in trying to promote sustainable fisheries." 

"However at the same time we realise that we are up against superpowers who support their own industries at this meeting and in many major fisheries negotiations so though they are small in number they are giants in terms of economic power.”

PNA supports Forum Fisheries Agency proposals on the table at the WCPFC for strengthening conservation measures for bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tunas, and for a harvest strategy work plan.

PNA also endorses establishment of a target reference point (TRP) and harvest control rules for skipjack tuna to maintain long-term stability of this currently healthy tuna stock.