Kiribati – the Pacific’s biggest tuna nation – backs FFA calls in tough tuna talks

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Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Development (MFMRD) Hon. Tetabo Nakara, calls for science-based solutions for keeping tuna fisheries sustainable in the Pacific during this week's Tuna Commission meetings (Photo from speaking in Iceland earlier this year)

HONOLULU, 12 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—

Kiribati Fisheries Minister Tetabo Nakara has called on nations involved in the Western and Central Pacific fishery to overcome their differences and use science-based innovative solutions to ensure a sustainable Pacific fishery for future generations.

With a catch of around 700,000 tonnes a year, more tuna is caught in Kiribati’s waters than in the waters of any other nation on earth.

In his opening address to the 15thWestern and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Honolulu, Mr Nakara supported the positions put forward by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement and challenged distant water fishing nations and coastal states alike to ‘ensure that no one is made worse off from our collective decisions’.

“It is not easy to get everyone on board but as the youngest of all RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations) responsible for the world’s greatest tuna resource, I am hopeful and confident that there is good opportunity for needed improvement with informed science-based management decisions at this forum,” Nakara said

Kiribati’s called on members of the WCPFC to set harvest control rules with well-defined target reference points for each tuna species and to adopt a new measure on the Compliance Monitoring System which is effective, efficient and fair.

Fisheries Minister Tetabo Nakara said it’s in their collective interests in search for best and innovative solutions on tuna species.

The challenge is real and similar to that faced in global environmental and climate change forums Mr Nakara said

“It is the collective call on us all as political leaders, scientists, industries, NGOs and our hard-working officials to continue our dialogue in search for best and innovative solutions that will ensure our common call for tuna resources that have brought us all to this important gathering are conserved and sustained sustainably managed,” he said.

“We cannot deny that all we have our own and different issues and that is the reality.

But I urge the secretariat to continue to seek ways forward and solutions for members’ common long-term interests,” said Nakara.

He said they have made some good progress in adopting several necessary conservation and management measures for tropical tuna not only in the exclusive economic zones but also in the high seas.

 The recognition and adoption of arrangements that include FAD (Fish Aggregating Device) closures at the WCPFC level is further evidence of collective achievement, and in particular appreciation of the coastal states aspirations, he said.

“I believe these are some of the factors that have contributed positively to the improvement in stock status particularly for bigeye and yellowfin tuna.

Other priorities for Kiribati include the development and establishment of harvest control rules with well-defined Target Reference Points.

These Nakara noted have “proven politically difficult and sensitive and we all know and understand why this is difficult”.

The Kiribati Fisheries Minister also said their experience with the Compliance Monitoring Scheme (CMS) that has been in place for the last eight years requires systematic improvements so that it facilitates achievement for its intention.

“My delegation is of the belief that the new proposed measure by FFA members is rebuilt on the principle of fairness, effectiveness and efficiency.

It is for that reason, the Minister encouraged member nations to adopting the new measure proposed at this meeting to ensure the Commission has in place a sound basis to accomplish compliance.

“I note that there are agenda items that may polarise our collective approach and when those agenda items are considered I would mutually call on us all to put aside our differences and to humbly approach those issues as one group in one voice with one amicable solution agreeable to us all.

Let all aim to ensure that no one is made worse off from our collective decision,” Nakara told WCPF delegates.

Nakara reminded delegates that at last year’s WCPFC the Chair challenged commission members with a rare opportunity to come up with a legacy that all future generations would remember this generation for.

“To my delegation that legacy is ensuring our future generation access the same or higher level of benefits from our common tuna resources,” he said.

The WCPFC meeting ends on Friday……PACNEWS