Parties to Nauru Agreement prepare for Tuna Commission meeting

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Honolulu 2 December 2018 — Tuna resource owners from the Pacific islands met Sunday as part of internal preparation for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting from December 10-14 in Honolulu.

Officials from the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) met Sunday in Honolulu on their new five-year draft strategic plan, an electronic monitoring proposal focused on the longline fishing industry, budget plans for next year, and regional fisheries issues for the upcoming WCPFC annual meeting. The PNA officials meeting was chaired by Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority Director Charleston Deiye. A PNA fisheries ministers’ meeting this coming Friday in Honolulu will review the draft strategic plan, budget and other matters along with other WCPFC-related issues for policy consideration by government leaders from the eight PNA nations.

The PNA manages the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the global supply of skipjack tuna, which is mainly used for canned tuna.

Although there are dozens of fisheries management issues on the WCPFC’s agenda, PNA officials focused largely on two key issues: nations seeking to expand membership in the WCPFC and the existing tropical tuna measure governing fishing that expires at the end of 2018. PNA officials reiterated their position against admitting more countries to full membership, pointing out that “cooperating non-members” and “observers” can participate in the work of the Commission.

The current tropical tuna measure, approved by the WCPFC one year ago, was described as “a well-balanced” measure that should be extended. PNA officials support the stance that the existing measure should not be weakened in any way to maintain the sustainability of tuna stocks. These and other PNA positions for the WCPFC will go for endorsement to PNA ministers this Friday in Honolulu.
PNA is also moving toward adoption of a new five-year strategic plan to guide its work, including addressing climate change impacts on the fishery.

“The new strategic plan is essential to the ongoing improvement and expansion of sustainable fisheries management and commercial opportunities for our islands,” said PNA Chief Executive Officer Ludwig Kumoru. The new draft plan has been developed through a series of consultations the members during 2018, he said, adding that the five-year plan is moving to its final draft stage for presentation to government fisheries ministers for review and action.

The new strategic plan and focus on strengthening the PNA Office operation is essential to effective management of the tuna fishery in PNA waters, said Mr. Kumoru.

The draft presented to the PNA officials meeting Sunday in Honolulu will see PNA focus in three areas:
• Internal strengthening of the PNA Office, headquartered in Majuro, and improved alignment of various fisheries management programs now overseen by PNA and its members.
• Maintain and expand its influence in sustainably managing the tropical tuna fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including expansion of fish aggregating device (FAD) monitoring and electronic monitoring of fishing vessels and tuna catches, and ongoing management of the vessel day scheme that governs the purse seine fishery in the region — and has led to revenues for PNA members growing from $60 million annually in 2010 to close to half a billion dollars in 2017.
• Managing commercial and economic development opportunities in the tuna fishery at the regional and domestic levels for PNA.

A key point coming out of the PNA discussion is the importance of the organization’s Fisheries Information Management Systems (FIMS) that underpins PNA’s decision-making and management of the fishery.

The aim of the new strategic plan is to continue PNA’s unique ability to act quickly to implement programs in the fishery, said PNA consultant Wez Norris, who is assisting the development of the plan. “The aim is to maintain the flexibility of PNA, while providing better clarity for everyone’s roles and to strengthen the decision-making process,” Mr. Norris said.

The results of Sunday’s meetings will go to fisheries ministers Friday for review and endorsement.

Note to editors:

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). The eight members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. Tokelau is a participating partner in implementing the Vessel Day Scheme together with the eight member nations.

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 Mr. Ludwig Kumoru, CEO, PNA Office, on email: ludwig@pnatuna.com.