Japan seeks to continue fishing in Palau waters

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Japan stressed the importance of its relationship with the Pacific, with most of the big scale fishing by the Japanese being centered in Pacific nations’ water.

Head of Delegation for Japan Shingo Ota, speaking at the Tuna Commission meeting in Honolulu said they were concerned about 20 small-scale longliners from Okinawa prefecture operating in Palau’s exclusive economic zone.

Mr Ota said those boats fear losing their livelihood once the island nation transition’s 80 percent of its waters to a no-fishing zone.

He said Japan is currently in talks with Palau to allow Okinawa fishermen to continue to fish in Palau after 2020 or the implementation of the Palau Marine Sanctuary.

“We are very much concerned because this is the main fishing ground for those 20 small-scale longliners. If Palau is going to close the area those vessels have nowhere to go,” Ota said.

He said Japan is requesting Palau to find a way, maybe through research, to allow the fishermen from Okinawa to continue fishing.

Ota, however, declined to give further details on the request.

Japan is one of Palau’s top foreign donors and the aid provided by Tokyo has helped the island nation to build roads and infrastructure.

By 2020, Palau is set to designate 80 percent of the nation’s maritime territory as a fully protected marine reserve in which no fishing or mining, can take place. 

Twenty percent of Palau’s waters will become a domestic fishing zone reserved for local fishermen and small-scale commercial fisheries with limited exports.

The marine sanctuary is President Tommy Remenegsau’s signature policy saying, Palau wants to lead the way in restoring the health of the ocean for future generations.

Japan speaks out on ‘unfair’ US proposal

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Japan said that the United States proposal to that the Tuna Commission increase its catch-quota on for bigeye tuna is “unfair,”

“I think the US is picking up only limited factors which are in favour of their operations. So, I think it is unfair,” the Head of Delegation for Japan Shingo Ota told reporters at the Tuna Commission meeting.

Pacific nations and other members of the WCPFC are locked in tense discussions over the future of the tropical tuna fishery which includes bigeye tuna as well as skipjack and yellowfin.

WCPFC’s current members are Japan, Australia, China, Canada, Cook Islands, the European Community, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Japan, Kiribati,Korea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Tonga, Tuvalu, the United States of America, and Vanuatu.

Ota was quick to criticise the US proposal, joining other Pacific nations in resisting any increase in the quota: “We don’t like it. 

“Their proposal is if a country has better observer coverage and does not conduct transshipment they can receive more allocation,” Ota said.

The US is seeking a higher catch limit for bigeye tuna by its Hawaii-based longline fishing fleet.

In its proposal, Washington highlights the significant levels of monitoring and control it maintains in the fishery, outperforming other members of the Commission.

The US points out that while large longline fleets are maintained by Japan, Korea and Taiwan have failed to meet the Commission’s minimum requirement of placing independent fisheries observers on 5 per cent of their vessels the Hawaii-based US fleet does better.

 Figures included in the proposal show the US fleet has achieved observer coverage of about 20 per cent in its deep-set fishery and 100% in its shallow-set fishery.

But Japan said the figures cited in the U.S proposal that suggest observer coverage on the Japanese fleet has gone down in the past year are “misleading.”

“Actually, the U.S figures are not correct and we are actually implementing 5% coverage. In some of the fleets a little bit less than 5% but some of the fleets are more than 5%,” Ota stated. 

FSM taps into technology for full tuna transparency

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The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is tapping into the latest high-tech surveillance technology to be its eyes on the vessels to monitor fishing activities in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) embarking on a commitment to Technology in Tuna Transparency Challenge.

Eugene Pangelinan Executive Director of the FSM National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA), said FSM is making use of emerging technologies to further improve national fisheries administrations, “to ensure that fish can be verified for traceability and transparency.”

Pangelinan, on the sidelines of the ongoing Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), said the goal is to use a variety of technology so that that they can collect detailed data on fishing effort, target catch composition, and bycatch of non-target species that come in on the vessels in FSM. 

Electronic Monitoring systems in fisheries use video cameras, remote sensors, satellites, and hard drives installed on fishing boats to provide a range of information, including information on retained and discarded catch. The data is provided to shore-based teams of analysts.

In tuna fisheries, gathering information in this way is particularly important in the longline fisheries where the very large number of smaller vessels makes it challenging to achieve the 5% percent target coverage by on board fisheries observers.

Pangelinan said the data it will ensure that “tuna caught in FSM was harvested legally, sustainably and without slave labor.”

FSM President Peter Christian at the Our Oceans Conference in Bali, Indonesia in October vowed to have all fleets active in its waters comply with full transparency by 2023.

Christian challenged other nations to do the same, commit to full tuna transparency by 2023 in what is known at the T-3 Challenge or Technology for Tuna Transparency Challenge.

 “By taking this lead, the FSM are committed to full tuna transparency that we hope will promote a worldwide shift in fishing practices and set the stage for global seafood market transformation for the betterment of us, and our oceans,” Pangelinan said.

 To kick start the initiative, Pangelinan said the Nature Conservancy have announced a $2.5M funding goal to support the T-3 Challenge.

Pangelinan stressed the technology is not aimed at replacing human observers but rather enhancing the compliance monitoring system. Observers provide a different kind of information and are important in ground-truthing information gained through electronic monitoring.

Pangelinan said the shore-based analysis centers will provide jobs for Pacific Islanders with observer experience.

He said FSM is falling behind WCPFC requirements of five percent coverage because of the logistical issues about placing these independent observers on long liners when they traverse the Pacific for long months and often do not return to the port from where they started their trip.  

FSM is hoping that Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and WCPFC will partner with them to achieve the Tuna Transparency challenge by 2023.  

“I think we will achieve it, but it’s just that it would be very helpful and strengthen and support us for others to have the same commitment,” Pangelinan said.

PNA officials recently considered the development of a PNA E-Monitoring Program at a workshop in Honiara. 

According to an earlier statement, PNA said the workshop was a response to both the decision of PNA Ministers to put a priority on developing a PNA E-Monitoring Program, and President Christian’s call for 100 percent coverage of longline fishing vessels by electronic monitoring by 2023.  

In FSM, revenues from fisheries account for 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which translates to about $50 to $60 million a year.

New push to protect sharks at Tuna Commission

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Another push is being made at Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meetings this week for an agreement on a comprehensive shark management measure.

The incidental catch of sharks while targeting other fish such as tuna has become a serious threat to the species.

A 2013 study by Social Development Direct, a UK based research group estimated that around 100 million sharks died in 2000 as a result of fishing, and 97 million in 2010.

Outgoing Commission chairperson, Rhea Moss-Christian, told reporters Saturday that the shark management measure would be a priority this year.

At last year’s Tuna Commission meeting, WCPFC  vowed to take up the issue of sharks at this year’s commission, however delays caused by fishing nations may have slowed things down.

A shark management measure would require all members, cooperating non-Members and participating territories to prohibit the removal of shark fins at sea.

It would also ban transshipment, retention on board and landing of shark fins.

Deep-sea longline fishing vessels and deep-sea and coastal trawlers had the largest total annual shark and ray by-catch according to Social Development Direct in 2015.

Longline boats deploy miles of baited hooks that accidentally snare sharks, among other unintended targets.

Blue sharks dominated the by-catch in longline fisheries. For other types of fishing gear,the species of by-catch varied across oceanic regions.

Many of the fisheries with the largest by-catch of cartilaginous species like sharks and rays operate over vast areas of ocean and often in international waters, where fishing rules are weaker.   

The measure before WCPFC15 would encourage research to identify ways to make fishing gear more selective and provide relevant information to WCPFC’s Scientific Committee.

The WCPFC has the mandate to conserve and manage nearly 60 per cent of the global tuna catch, equivalent to 2.9 million tons of tuna, valued at over $5 billion.It is also responsible for managing and conserving other migratory fish such as sharks and manta rays.

The environmental group, PEW Charitable Trust, said all species caught as by-catch fell  under the mandate of WCPFC.

Dave Gershman, PEW Global Tuna Conservation Officer said there should be a firm commitment, to conduct assessments on shark stocks in the WCPFC Convention Area.

“ PEW is keen to see action for sharks before their numbers crash. Negotiations for new rules on sharks have to take into account the widely differing interests of fishing nations and more conservation-minded resource-owning nations,” Gershman said.

Sharks are important to the ecosystem and as the top predators they keep the balance in the oceans. For small Pacific island nations, sharks can generate more money alive than dead.   Shark-based tourism in most of these nations is a lucrative business.

Micronesia and Marshall Islands lead the way in fisheries sustainability

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Two tiny Pacific nations have laid down the gauntlet to fishing nations and regional fisheries owners and now lead the way to ensuring long-term sustainability of tuna stocks in the Western and Central Pacific ocean with the issuance of bold challenges.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President,Peter Christian, urged nations at last month’s ‘Our Oceans’ conference in Bali to adopt electronic monitoring technology to achieve full transparency of tuna fisheries by 2023.

And, Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, called on Pacific nations to commit to a 2023 target for the abolition of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. 

Opening the 15thWestern and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission here today, chair Rhea Moss-Christian praised the efforts of what she described as two of the smallest countries in issuing fisheries challenges that other nations should follow.

“It is no coincidence that two of the boldest challenges for our region’s fisheries come from two of the most vulnerable island nations whose economies and futures are acutely tied to the health of these resources,” Moss-Christian said at the opening of the five-day negotiation to determine the fate of critical tuna species – bigeye, yellowfin, and skipjack.

Fisheries are the key economic driver for RMI and FSM but climate change and over fishing can impact the well-being of the coastal communities who depend on fish for their way of life.

Moss-Christian said WCPFC has “the lead responsibility in meeting these challenges issued by two of its members at the highest level and I believe that we are already on this path.”

The Marshall Islands has been quick to support measures to end IUU fishing because of the impact of this activity on tuna stocks.

“IUU has devastating consequences. It is organised crime that affects socio-economic growth and future generations, and the Pacific has shown itself to be vulnerable,” President Heine said at the October Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC) of WCPFC.

Christian made his country’s position clear at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia, when he announced a commitment to enforce 100 per cent at-sea monitoring coverage of all industrial fishing in their waters by 2023.

According to Eugene Pangelinan, Executive Director of the FSM National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) the challenge would  be achieved through a combination of observer coverage and electronic monitoring.

“The FSM will use this invaluable tool so our fisheries managers and fishing industry partners can obtain much-needed, detailed data on fishing effort, target catch composition, and by-catch of non-target species that come in on these vessels,” Pangelinan said in a statement today.

The WCPFC is the central decision making body for management of tuna fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

Outgoing Tuna Commission Chair calls for consideration of future generations

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 Honolulu, Hawaii- The outgoing chair of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) spoke from the heart as she called on nations responsible for managing half the world’s fisheries to consider future generations.

Widely-respected Chair Rhea Moss-Christian, who is completing her 4-year term, told delegates from the Pacific and distant water fishing nations that it is their responsibility to ensure the sustainability of tuna stocks as they meet this week in Honolulu.

In her keynote address opening of the Commission session, Moss-Christian told members their deliberations could impact the livelihood and the future of nations.

 “Compromise and sacrifice do not come easily, this is the nature of multilateral process.  In this Commission, collaboration impacts livelihoods and our future generations and the impacts are real,” she said

“What we discuss here has broad and potentially significant effects out there,” Christian-Morris said.

“But our mission is noble and …we are all stakeholders.”

In an earlier interview, Moss-Christian said 2018 was a busy year for the Commission.

“We are expecting heavy discussions on the tropical tuna this year,’ she told reporters on Saturday.

The Tropical Tuna Measure sets fishing rules and influences for tuna worth more than US$4.4 billion annually.

Parts of the current measure, which covers skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna, are due to expire at the end of the year.

In an earlier statement the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) said they want to see the WCPFC act on the expiring provisions in the tropical tuna measure but not increase the catch. This means increasing the dollar value of the tuna instead of allowing increased catch by fleets.

 Ms Moss-Christian said Commission members were expected to continue discussions on harvest strategies, which would provide comprehensive plans for keeping tuna stocks in a healthy state.

The main proposal from the WCPFC secretariat is that the Commission establish a new Science-Management Dialogue that would allow delegates to the annual Commission meeting to discuss harvest strategies and arrive better briefed on the science behind fisheries.

Work has also been progressing in other areas. Moss-Christian said that prior to this year’s annual negotiations work had been done through working groups on the Compliance Monitoring Scheme,electronic monitoring and reporting, Pacific albacore stocks, shark and ray protection and management of FADs.

“These are important issues that will be addressed next week,” she said.

The WCPFC will also prioritise discussion on the South Pacific albacore target reference point, which will start the process of putting the albacore fishery on an economically sustainable footing.

Moss-Christian said she was more confident about the nations reaching consensus on several measures this week.

She made history by serving a four-year term as chairperson of WCPFC and she said she feels good about her last term at the helm of the tuna body.

“I feel very good about my last term this year, its time for me to step aside and let someone else step in,” she told reporters.

United States seeks increase in its tuna catch limit

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Honolulu, Hawaii- The United States is seeking a higher catch limit for bigeye tuna by its Hawaii-based longline fishing fleet at the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) taking place in Honolulu this week.

The move comes as Pacific Island nations through their two main inter-governmental fishing agencies have made it clear they are not willing to increase the total bigeye catch in Pacific waters.

In its proposal to the 27-member rule-setting body, the United States highlights the significant levels of monitoring and control it maintains in the fishery, outperforming other members of the Commission.

,Washington points out that while the large longline fleets maintained by Japan, Korea and Taiwan have failed to meet the Commission’s minimum requirement of placing independent fisheries observers on 5 per cent of their vessels the Hawaii-based US fleet has consistently outperformed minimum requirements.

Figures included in the proposal show the US fleet has achieved observer coverage of about 20 per cent in its deep-set fishery and 100% in its shallow-set fishery.

With ‘essentially no at-sea trans-shipments’ taking place in the fishery the US argues it has been contributing highly certain catch data and other fisheries information, and making an important contribution.

The US proposes that as an incentive for Commission members to provide better quality catch data would be to increase catch limits by 1 per cent on 2018 levels for every 1 per cent of observer coverage achieved over the 5 per cent minimum. They also propose that catch limits should be increased by 10 per cent on 2018 levels for every member that achieves 100 per cent trans-shipment free fishing.

The US proposal admits that under current conditions the its fleets would be the only ones eligible to receive an increase in their catch limits.

It comes as the Science Committee of the WCPFC confirms advice that bigeye tuna is not overfished or experiencing overfishing. 

However, Pacific nations do not want to see an increase in the catch of bigeye.

The CEO of the 8-nation Parties to the Nauru Agreement group Ludwig Kumoru said although the US fishing industry is laudable for its efforts to put in measures to improve monitoring and control of their fishing vessels, the number of observers should not “directly relate to how much fish should I take from the ocean.”

 He said that the amount of observer coverage or number of observers one places on the vessels does not relate to the amount of fish one catches.

“Therefore good reporting should not be used as a condition to increase catch. We should instead concentrate on bringing in conservation measures that actually support sustainable fishing,” he said.

Although he doesn’t agree with the proposal, Kumoru said it will be up to the Commission members to decide on the matter.

“I think we should concentrate on bringing in conservation measures that actually support sustainable fishing.” Kumoru said.

The director General of the 17-nation Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said that although the science says that bigeye tuna looks to be in healthier state than previously thought, they have advised the Commission to maintain current fishing limits and take a precautionary approach.

Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen stressed that the FFA wants to see a strong tropical tuna measure from this week’s Commission meeting which include a healthy bigeye tuna population.

 “I mentioned earlier priorities of FFA members going into this meeting and that is to maintain the strength of the tropical tuna measure and not to weaken the existing provisions,” Dr. Roosen said.

She also commended United States continued cooperation with the Commission’s rules.

“So we are confident that we will reach a successful resolution of the ongoing issue with the US,” she said.

The environmental groups PEW and WWF see the US proposal as an “interesting idea” especially in the context of it being an incentive to fishing nations to improve monitoring control and observer coverage, but believe the Commission should still prioritise the population of the bigeye.

“ We are fully in support of improving observers coverage, we also think that trans-shipment should be banned unless best practices are in place to ensure its verifiable and legal. And we see this incentive system as an interesting idea.  However, the Commission needs to be careful that the overall catch of big-eye does not increase past the scientific advice,” said Dave Gershman, Pew Charitable Trust Global Tuna Conservation Officer.

“If you increase the catch of big-eye through one proposal, you need to kind of reign it in in a different way. If they can structure it in a way where it doesn’t lead to an increase in big-eye catch then that would be the way to go.”

Bubba Cook, WWF Western Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager said: “The US proposal sends a strong statement that if we have greater observer coverage and we’re able to get better refined data on these stocks, we may actually be able to catch more than what we’re catching right now.”

WCPFC chairperson Rhea Moss-Christian said that the US approach is a “relatively new one,” and she cannot determine yet how the Commission members will respond to the proposal.

Nations to decide on critical Pacific tuna stocks this week

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 Honolulu, Hawaii- The 27 nation members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) will meet this week to make decisions on critical issues on tropical tunas, illegal fishing, observer safety and the management of Fishing aggregating devices (FADS).

 Pacific nations and distant water fishing nations are due to decide, at the annual WCPFC meeting, which begins December 10 today Honolulu time (Tuesday, Palau time), how to ensure the sustainability of tuna stocks.

It was quite a busy year for the Commission in 2018.

“We are expecting heavy discussions on the tropical tuna this year,” Rhea Moss-Christian, chairperson of the WCPFC, told reporters on Saturday.

The Tropical Tuna Measure sets fishing rules and influences for tuna worth more than US$4.4 billion a year.

Parts of the current measure, which covers skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna, are due to expire at the end of the year.

In an earlier statement, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) said it wants to see WCPFC act on the existing tropical tuna measure but not increase the tuna catch.

Ms Moss-Christian said member-countries are expected to continue discussions on harvest strategies which will provide comprehensive plans for keeping tuna stocks in a healthy state.

The main proposal is that the Commission establish a new Science-Management Dialogue that would allow delegates to the annual Commission meeting to discuss harvest strategies and arrive better briefed on the science behind fisheries.

Work has also been progressing in other areas. Moss-Christian said that prior to this year’s annual negotiations work has been done through working groups on the Compliance Monitoring Scheme,electronic monitoring and reporting, Pacific albacore stocks, shark and ray protection and management of FADs.

“There are important issues that will be addressed next week,” she said.

The WCPFC will also prioritise discussion on the South Pacific albacore target reference point, which will start the process of putting the albacore fishery on an economically sustainable footing.

Moss-Christian, who will be concluding her leadership at the WCPFC this year, said she is more confident about the nations reaching consensus on several measures next week.

She made history by serving a four-year term as chairperson of  WCPFC and she said she feels good about her last term at the helm of the tuna body.

I feel very good about my last term this year, its time for me to step aside and let someone else step in,” she told reporters.

FFA Director General Dr Manu TupouRoosen said it is vital that WCPFC does not weaken the current tropical tuna measure.

“Our position is to not weaken the tropical tuna measure, we would like to maintain the strength of that measure,”Dr Tupou-Roosen stressed.

She said the measure ensures conservation and management of the tuna species – skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye.

She also said that it’s important to ensure sustainable management of the wider fishery in the Pacific.

 PNACEO Ludwig Kumoru said as resource owners of the crucial tuna species in the Pacific, his organisation will work in collaboration with FFA.

We will “work together to promote effective measures at the WCPFC for sustainable management of our fisheries resources” he said.

The WCPFC is responsible for setting the rules for conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the world’s biggest fishery.

The members of the WCPFC are: Australia,Canada, China, Cook Islands, European Community, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Marshall Islands,Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, and Vanuatu.

Pacific tuna States address human and drug trafficking

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Honolulu, Hawaii… With the consumer market increasingly demanding to know their food is sourced ethically and sustainably the eight tuna-producing nations that are Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) have decided to address human and drug trafficking as part of their fisheries surveillance efforts.

PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru told reporters, ahead of this week’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) annual meeting, that fisheries officials agreed that it is also their responsibility to adopt measures to police the fishing industry to ensure that organized crime has no place in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

Kumoru says it is important to implement policies, which monitor distant water fishing nations in the high seas, beyond the PNA countries’ national jurisdiction and establish greater transparency.

 In September at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders signed a security agreement that tackled climate change and crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and illegal fishing.

 “It important that we contribute to a bigger picture of what our leaders want,” Kumoru said.

 PNA controls the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery. PNA members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, PNG, Tuvalu and Tokelau.

Part of the role of protecting the region’s ocean from illegal activities is addressing the issue of trans-shipment from one boat to another.

On the high seas, there is a lack of regulation and control measures to verify fish trans-shipment.This allows the possibility for fishing vessels to undertake a multitude of illegal activities such as drug transportation, human trafficking and illegal,unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Palau Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET) Ummich Sengebau said in a conference in Copenhagen in October that criminal networks had caused disastrous impacts to the Pacific fishing industry.

In 2015, Palau declared war against drugs, forcing traffickers to find innovative ways to smuggle the illegal substance to the island nation. Drugs have been moved to Palau by plane, ship, fishing boats and through the postal system.

Currently there is a ban on tuna trans-shipment on the high seas, but loopholes allow the practice to continue. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the PNA have also endorsed a ban on high seas refueling effective 2020.

The ban will require fishing vessels to refuel in ports or in designated zones, as part of the efforts to eliminate IUU.

According to a report on the impact of IUU fishing prepared for the FFA in 2016 the estimated the value of catch associated with illegal fishing is at over US$600 million.

The PNA and FFA have called for the support of distant water fishing nations, who are also members of the WCPFC, to eliminate IUU fishing.

“The value of the Pacific fishery to individual Pacific Islanders and the economies of our 17island members is enormous,” said Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, Director General of FFA in a statement.

“This is motivating new initiatives in support of existing monitoring, control and surveillance programs to eliminate IUU fishing,” Tupou-Roosen said.

WCPFC manages the world’s largest tuna fishery and next week’s meeting is to discuss measures that will sustainably manage commercially valuable tropical tunas. The meeting in Honolulu is scheduled from December 10- 14.

Palau joins other Pacific Ministers for tough talks ahead of tuna meeting

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Honolulu, Hawaii– Ministers from the eight Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) nations and Tokelau will be meeting here Friday [7 December] to discuss measures promoting sustainable management of fish stocks in their waters.

Palau Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism Umiich Sengebau will attend the meeting, which is set on Friday, December 7 (Saturday 8th Palau time).

The powerful grouping – composed of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu –   controls waters in which more than 60 per cent of the world’s biggest tuna canning species – skipjack -is caught.

Sengebau said he would propose that Palau host next year’s ministerial meeting.

On December 2, tuna officials from the eight-member PNA met ahead of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting from December 10-14 in Honolulu.

The WCPFC sets the rules for tuna fishing as well as for protection of vulnerable ocean-going species such as sharks, rays and turtles.

After the meeting PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru emphasized the importance of the PNA’s collaboration with the Pacific’s largest fisheries body the Forum fisheries Agency (FFA).

Mr Kumoru said ensuring the tuna stocks remain healthy is the highest priority of the Islands.

This requires ongoing and effective conservation measures on both the high seas and in the exclusive economic zones of the Islands, he said

“That is why the PNA and the FFA put so much effort into preparing for WCPFC,” he said.

PNA officials met Sunday in Honolulu to discuss the new five-year draft strategic plan, electronic monitoring proposal focused on the longline fishing industry, budget plans for next year as well as regional fisheries issues for the upcoming WCPFC annual meeting.

Sengebau, along with the other ministers will attend the fisheries ministers’ meeting today in Honolulu to review the draft strategic plan, and other matters along with other WCPFC-related issues for policy consideration by the ministers.

Sengebau said he agrees that one of the issues that need to be tackled during the meeting is to improve management of fishing devices which are placed in the water to attract fish -known as FADs- especially in light of new technology such as radar and sonar now used on FADS.

“We need a better approach and better strategy on the FADs issue,’ Sengebau stated

Sengebau said that because of the new FAD technology , it is easier for vessels to catch fish that could impact PNA’s revenues from the vessel day scheme.

He said PNA countries should consider not only an effective way to manage the FADs but ensure that there will be economic returns for the Pacific by way of fees for FADs deployed.

In an earlier statement PNA said FADs are playing an increasingly important role in the purse seine fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean that there is a need to step up its FAD management and tracking program.

PNA’s new five-year strategic plan, to be adopted soon, to guide its work, includes work to address climate change impacts on the fishery, according to a PNA press statement.