Tuna Commission endorses work plan to manage South Pacific albacore sustainably

by Fatu Tauafiafi | 11 December 2019 | News

South Pacific albacore tuna being processed at the Solander plant in Fiji. Photo: WWF Pacific.

PORT MORESBY, 11 December 2019 – One of the positive outcomes from the just-ended 16th annual Tuna Commission meeting is the adoption of the South Pacific albacore work plan.

The formal agreement allows work to start that will address the range of issues associated with albacore fishing and management. 

The Director-General of FFA, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said the outcome is positive.

“Agreeing to a pathway to achieve the target reference point (TRP) that was endorsed at last year’s Tuna Commission signals the start and an important first step of this process for our FFA membership,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.

Early in 2020, Pacific members will seek to engage the Commission on this issue.

The aim is to return the stock biomass (total number or weight of population) of albacore to its TRP as soon as is economically possible. Doing so is intended to ensure future individual vessel profitability in the fisheries of Pacific small island developing states (SIDS).

Zone-based management will be a key tool in managing the stock. It ensures that FFA members’ sovereign rights are preserved within regionally compatible limits.

Regarding the work of the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Fisheries, FFA recommended revising the draft work plan so as to focus on: 

  • Limits—agreement and recommendation on an overall hard limit and a subsequent pathway (annual total catch reductions).
  • Allocation—agreement on the split of the total hard limit, as discussed at WCPFC14.
  • Conservation and management measure (CMM)—implementation of the agreed overall hard limit which recognises zone-based management, allocated limits, data collection, and reporting requirements, via a revised CMM for South Pacific albacore tuna, until a harvest strategy is finalised and agreed on. 

Lealaiauloto Aigaletaule’ale’a F Tauafiafi’s participation and coverage at the WCPFC16 was made possible by the Forum Fisheries Agency, Pew Charitable Trusts, and GEF OFMP2 project. 


FFA assists its 17 member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management


Members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.


The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention) which entered into force on 19 June 2004. 

The WCPF Convention draws on many of the provisions of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement [UNFSA] while, at the same time, reflecting the special political, socio-economic, geographical and environmental characteristics of the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) region. The WCPFC Convention seeks to address problems in the management of high seas fisheries resulting from unregulated fishing, over-capitalization, excessive fleet capacity, vessel re-flagging to escape controls, insufficiently selective gear, unreliable databases and insufficient multilateral cooperation in respect to conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks. 

The Commission supports three subsidiary bodies; the Scientific Committee, Technical and Compliance Committee, and the Northern Committee, that each meet once during each year. The meetings of the subsidiary bodies are followed by a full session of the Commission. The work of the Commission is assisted by a Finance and Administration Committee.

Members: Australia, China, Canada, Cook Islands, European Union, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, Vanuatu.

Participating territories: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna.

Cooperating non-members: Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Liberia, Thailand, Vietnam.