Majuro, Marshall Islands 7 April 2017: Nine islands that control the majority of tuna in the western and central Pacific are meeting in Majuro this week and next, focusing on important tuna management issues for the region.
The annual officials meeting of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) — eight island nations plus Tokelau — starts Monday in Majuro. Officials are attending from the eight member nations: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu, with officials from Tokelau, which implements PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme in its fishing zone.
Next week’s PNA meeting follows several days of meetings of island officials this past week in the Vessel Day Scheme Technical and Scientific Committee, and meeting under two arrangements:
• The “Palau Arrangement” that reviews PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme and the allocation of fishing days for each member.
• The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Arrangement that provides access for domestic purse seine vessels of PNA members to fish in the exclusive economic zones of other PNA parties.
The 36th annual PNA officials meeting will run from 10-14 April, with an extensive agenda focused on fishery management initiatives. The PNA officials annual meeting will endorse recommendations for action by PNA ministers, who are expected to meet in Majuro in late June or early July.
Among key topics on the PNA officials’ agenda:
• A measure to implement PNA ministers and Pacific Island Forum leaders call to ban high seas bunkering of fishing vessels by requiring refueling to occur in ports or in designated zones. At last year’s Pacific Islands Forum summit, leaders adopted a resolution calling “for action to end illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and associated activities, including high seas bunkering, human trafficking, and illicit trade.” PNA officials will address this recommendation to improve governance of the fishery.
• PNA’s Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified free school tuna fishery developments. PNA officials will report on the growing tuna tonnage that is being sustainably caught under the PNA MSC Pacifical scheme, with over 60,000 metric tons of skipjack and yellowfin processed through the scheme in 2016 compared to just 7,508 metric tons for the previous three years combined.
• Small-scale tuna canning trainings and operations in PNA nations. Over the past year, canning trainings have been run in Majuro and Honiara, with more training programs anticipated for other islands later this year to encourage local entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities presented by in-port tuna transshipment in PNA islands.
• Fish aggregating device (FAD) registration and tracking. Officials will discuss a recommendation to PNA ministers to make FAD tracking a term of licensing for fishing vessels, with the aim of implementing mandatory FAD tracking on 1 January 2018.
• World Tuna Day (WTD) events on May 2. Following United Nations General Assembly endorsement of WTD as a globally recognized day, PNA will be sponsoring a seminar at the United Nations on May 2 followed by an evening reception for participants as well as UN permanent representatives, diplomats and NGO representatives. The UN WTD celebrations offer a timely opportunity for the PNA to engage at the political level with diplomats, UN agencies and NGOs to ensure that the rights, priorities and concerns of the region are kept front and center in the lead up to the UN Oceans Conference in June.
Other issues that will be discussed during the PNA meetings include fishery observer safety and management programs, progress on implementing the Vessel Day Scheme for the longline industry, developments of PNA’s Fisheries Information Management System, reviewing the status of tuna stocks, and other fisheries issues.