Majuro, Marshall Islands 22 March 2015 — A range of decisions to support the fisheries development aspirations of the eight members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) were endorsed during the PNA annual meeting held in Yap, Federated States of Micronesia during the second week of March.
“The PNA annual meeting focused on consolidating gains made over the past year by improving management systems, while making decisions on initiatives to be implemented from 2016,” said PNA CEO Dr. Transform Aqorau. “Sustainability of the fishery in our waters and continued economic advancement for our members are the guiding principles for PNA decisions reached in Yap.”
The meetings discussed detailed reports and evaluations on the Vessel Days Scheme (VDS) that underpins PNA’s management of the purse seine fishery, and is soon to govern longline fishing boats in a majority of PNA members’ fishing zones. “The VDS has transformed the purse seine fishery, giving PNA members increasing control of the fishery and more than quadrupling revenues to the islands, which are now over US$350 million annually,” said Dr. Aqorau.
The PNA annual meeting also discussed an evaluation of its Pacifical tuna label that is marketing tuna products in the European market, set the total allowable effort (TAE) for 2016 and a provisional TAE for 2017, discussed strategy for engaging with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) on conservation management and the U.S. government and tuna industry in negotiations for a fisheries access treaty, and reviewed ways to increase the number of PNA citizens crewing on fishing vessels.
Among key actions that will continue to bring greater benefits to the eight PNA members and ensure the sustainability of the western and central Pacific fishery in 2016 and beyond, the PNA annual meeting took decisions on:
• Registration and tracking of fish aggregating devices (FADs) that is to begin in 2016. The meeting also endorsed a recommendation to be put to PNA Ministers when they meet later this year to begin from 1 January 2016 charging a per day fee for FADs used by distant water fishing nation vessels.
• Rolling out the first Vessel Days Scheme for longline fishing vessels in five of the eight PNA members’ fishing zones. The longline VDS went into effect from 1 January 2015 in Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Solomon Islands.
• Continuing to tighten the definition of non-fishing days and implementation of additional compliance mechanisms on the application of non-fishing days.
A critical point of discussion led to agreement to address threats to PNA members’ purse seine development from Japan and Taiwan, and from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). “Of substantial concern to PNA members is the systematic abuse of the WCPFC process to block the construction of new purse seine vessels for PNA members,” said Dr. Aqorau. “Action by Japan and Taiwan is undermining fisheries development aspirations of PNA members.”
PNA members agreed that the Chairman of the PNA, Mr. Patrick Mackenzie from the Federated States of Micronesia, would write to both Taiwan and Japan expressing this concern and requesting a consultation at the earliest opportunity to resolve the problem and avoid the need for further steps to be taken by PNA.
PNA members also expressed grave concern about ISSF decisions to block landings of fish from any vessel that is not on their Register, which “have the potential to obstruct the legitimate development of the domestic tuna fisheries of PNA members,” said Dr. Aqorau. PNA has called on ISSF for consultation to remove this obstacle to the legitimate right of PNA members to develop sustainable domestic fisheries for tuna in their waters.
During the PNA annual meetings, members also received tuna stock status reports from officials with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and economic overviews from the fisheries industry and PNA Office.
The PNA agreed to recruit a Deputy CEO for the PNA Office in Majuro, with preference given to recruitment from PNA members. The PNA also agreed that the CEO post should be appointed from among existing PNA members. Hiring for both posts is to be advertised during 2015.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying over 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, (692) 625-7626.