Bali, Indonesia 8 December 2015: The Parties to Nauru Agreement is deeply disappointed with the failure by members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to reach an amicable solution on bigeye tuna that would address its overfished status.
PNA chairman Eugene Pangelinan said they had presented a balanced package of longline and purse seine proposals for the meeting and they had received wide support. However, they would come away without a meaningful measure on tropical tuna species Bigeye, Skipjack and Yellowfin.
"We want to acknowledge in particular the support of other Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency Members and the European Union," he said at the meeting which ended today (December 8) in Bali.
"We have been prepared to go far beyond our proposals to respond to the scientific advice on the need to fix the problems arising from the choice of Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) management proposals in the existing measure, even though this would have increased the burden on PNA Members and Tokelau. We do this because the continuing failure to improve measures to conserve and manage the tropical tunas, especially bigeye tuna, is undermining sustainable development opportunities of our people. Already we are losing jobs because of this failure and we will lose more by inaction every year to reduce bigeye tuna fishing.”
Pangelinan saluted the efforts of chairperson Rhea Moss-Christian in trying hard to get WCPFC members to come to some common ground but it was evident that certain foreign fishing nations were determined to derail the whole process.
Tuvalu's Natural Resource Minister Pita Elisala said Tuvalu had agreed to implement a fourth month FAD closure option, even though this imposed a large disproportionate burden on the small island state: “In exchange for carrying this burden, this year we sought additional controls on the longline fishery, which are the primary beneficiaries of bigeye conservation measures. All these measures were intended to improve monitoring, control and surveillance of the high seas longline fishery, which is widely recognised as being out of control. In exchange, as part of PNA, we offered to tighten up the existing FAD restriction by introducing technical measures that would remove some of the loopholes that currently exist.”
However, Mr Eiisala said distant water fishing member states refused to accept the most important longline fishery management measures that PNA proposed. At the same time, he said the foreign fishing nations tried to introduce additional restrictions on the use of FADs in the purse-seine skipjack fishery.
PNA Chief Executive Officer Dr Transform Aqorau said they had come to the meeting with set targets to address the overfished status of the bigeye tuna but once again the Commission has had to adhere to “consensus."
Dr Aqorau said despite the outcome at the WCPFC, PNA nations would continue to work through 2016 implementing FAD charging and FAD tracking, along with the Longline Vessel Day Scheme: "It will be back to the drawing board for us but we will be looking at hard measures also in our own waters as we may not get a measure for us at the Commission. But we have other ways to apply hard limits within our own Exclusive Economic Zones and this is where our Vessel Day Scheme has proven to be a valuable tool for our members in terms of economic returns and managing fishing effort.”