PNA goal: Enhance capacity of the Parties

   Majuro 28 February, 2015 — Actions taken by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) since establishment of its office in Majuro in 2010 have resulted in quadrupling of revenue to the eight member nations, and implementation of numerous innovative conservation and management measures impacting giving PNA Parties greater control of the US$6 billion fishery in the central and western Pacific. 

   Yet despite the PNA’s development as a significant regional force in fisheries conservation and management, the size of the PNA Office (PNAO) has remained modest — only six full-time staff, with five based on Majuro. This reflects PNAO’s focus on involving fisheries officials from the eight member nations in all aspects of the PNA program to develop capacity and keep office staff to a minimum. “This is our operating plan,” said PNA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Transform Aqorau. “In this way, the size of the PNAO can be maintained at a minimum, while Parties themselves assume increasing ownership and role in the administration of PNA initiatives.” 

   Dr. Aqorau said this philosophy of building capacity within the Parties is crucial to the next phase of PNA development, which is focused on “consolidation, planning, and augmentation of administrative structures” to continue advancing the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) and other fisheries initiatives. “We should be continually be looking to have a mixed operation, relying on our own initiative and innovation, external contractors and consultation, and a core pool of technical personnel, while at the same time getting our own people involved with our external consultants and technical personnel,” said Dr. Aqorau. This can be achieved by “getting our people to be members of working groups, chairing working groups, and even spending time at the PNAO on secondment to special assignments,” said Dr. Aqorau. 

   This is increasingly important because the VDS is a vehicle that represents a large and growing revenue source that needs to be managed both at PNAO and the national level by the Parties. But the VDS for purse seiners is only one component of PNA management of the fisheries. Registration and monitoring of the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) will be launched in 2016, PNA’s Pacifical tuna label in conjunction with the Marine Stewardship Council certification of free school caught skipjack is poised for expansion and further development in European markets, ongoing development of a PNA Economic Model that governs rent streams paid for fishing access, and a new VDS for longliners are among major initiatives of the PNA. These will be among major issues being addressed at the annual meeting of the PNA taking place in Yap from March 3-13, 2015. 

   Dr. Aqorau sees “working groups” comprised of representatives from PNA member nations, PNAO staff and technical consultants as key to advancing PNA initiatives. “This way, Parties can be closely involved in the work and design the initiatives in ways that reflect their needs,” he said. 

   A core administrative feature of the purse seine VDS is managing and using the large volume of data submitted by onboard fisheries observers. This is increasingly being done electronically, as the Fisheries Information Management System (FIMS) moves from trial stage to full implementation. Dr. Aqorau sees the benefits of rotating VDS Officers from the Parties to the PNAO to assist with processing observer data. “This would enhance their skills, while spreading the responsibility across the Parties with the PNAO providing oversight responsibility,” Dr. Aqorau said. 

   It will develop both capacity and greater cooperation among the Parties. All of these initiatives support maintaining a relatively small number of staff at the PNAO, while engaging the Parties in the rollout and administration of PNA initiatives. 

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   The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna (a popular tuna for canned products). They are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. 

   PNA has been a champion for marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including closures of high seas pockets, seasonal bans on use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), satellite tracking of boats, in port transshipment, 100 percent observer coverage of purse seiners, closed areas for conservation, mesh size regulations, tuna catch retention requirements, hard limits on fishing effort, prohibitions against targeting whale sharks, shark action plans, and other conservation measures to protect the marine ecosystem. 

   For more information, contact Dr. Transform Aqorau, CEO, PNA Office, on email: transform@pnatuna.com or by phone, (692) 625-7626.