PNA member countries will now have access to Tokelau’s waters

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Frozen tuna being transhipped near Madang. Photo credit: Francisco Blaha.

Photo: Francisco Blaha.

Tokelau and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) member countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at last week’s meeting of PNA Ministers in Palau that allows the South Pacific territory to join the FSM Arrangement(FSMA), an agreement which allows parties domestic vessels who are licensed under the arrangement,  to access the fishing resources of other parties.

Tokelau is the latest participants, joining other signatories (Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau,  Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands).

Under the MOU, a framework for the participation of Tokelau in the FSMA will be established. The arrangement also enables holders of Regional Access Licenses under the FSMA to fish in Tokelau’s exclusive economic zone and it also ensures license holders fishing in Tokelau fisheries waters complies with applicable national laws of Tokelau.

Tokelau will allow all purse seine vessels licensed to fish in the Arrangement Area under the FSMA to access its exclusive economic zone.

As a participant to the FSMA, Tokelau may participate in the Annual Meeting and any Special Meeting of the Parties to the FSMA and may participate in the decision making but Tokelau will have no voting right in the process.

 The arrangement will take effect on July 1, 2019.

PNA CEO Ludwig Komoru said the signing of the MOU with Tokelau is a “very important step” which means in that the countries in the FSMA arrangement can now go to Tokelau waters to fish.” Giving both Tokelau and PNA countries “extra area to fish and extra revenues, so it’s a win-win.”

Tokelau is made up of three small coral atolls – Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu.

Tokelau has an  EEZ covering 318,990 square kilometers.

Tokelau does not have a commercial fishing fleet however, it has a large artisanal fleet of about 50 – 60 small 12’ to 16’ ft. motorized aluminum boats.

In 2012, Tokelau joined the PNA’s vessel day scheme, the country’s main industry is fishing.

On May 29-30, 2019, Fisheries Ministers from PNA convened in  Koror, Palau for their 14th annual meeting.

During the meeting, fisheries ministers also considered several important issues at this meeting, such as the PNA Office budget, PNA’s Strategic Plan, the 2020 Party Allowable Effort (PAE), an independent Chair for the PNA Compliance Committee, the purchase of Fisheries Information Management System (FIMS) from Quick Access, high seas bunkering, Vanuatu’s request to join PNA’s Longline (LL) Vessel Day Scheme (VDS),  

Tokelau is also a participant at these meetings as a party to the Palau Arrangement (PA), which is the management arrangement for the purse seine fishery.