Pacific fisheries leaders highlight Tuna Commission action

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Honolulu 14 December 2018 — Pacific Islands fisheries leaders expressed satisfaction with the actions taken this week by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to support sustainability of the fishery, minimum labor standards for fishing crews, and expanded participation of Small Island Developing States in the work of the Commission.

A compromise worked out late on Friday, the last day of the annual meeting, allowed for extension of important provisions of the Tropical Tuna Measure that is essential to sustainable management of the tuna fishery, said Forum Fisheries Agency Director General Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Ludwig Kumoru.

This includes continuation of provisions for a three-month prohibition on use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) by purse seiners in exclusive economic zones and high seas areas between 20°N and 20°S from July 1-September 30, and an additional two-month prohibition on FAD use on the high seas. By consensus, these FAD closures were extended for an additional two-year period, through the end of 2020.

As part of the compromise, PNA members agreed to compromise language regarding the definition of FAD sets in 2019 and agreed to work with others on this broader issue.

“We’re really pleased with the outcomes from this Commission meeting,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

“We came into this week’s meeting with the position to maintain the strength of the existing tropical tuna measure — and this is what we accomplished.”

Mr. Kumoru agreed. “FAD closures are an important conservation action that reduces catch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna,” Mr. Kumoru said. “Maintaining the FAD closures is contributing to sustainably managing our tuna stocks.”

Several other actions of significance were endorsed by the WCPFC this week, including:

  • The adoption of the South Pacific albacore Interim Target Reference Point. “This is a milestone for the management of the South Pacific albacore fishery,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.
  • The adoption of minimum labor standards for crew on fishing vessels. “FFA Members continue to lead by setting the standards for responsible fishing in all respects,” Dr. Tupou-Roosen said, adding that this is the first tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organization to take this critical step for addressing labor standards for crew on board fishing vessels.
  • The decision for a 2019 review of the WCPFC transshipment measure originally adopted in 2009. “This review is critical to addressing the challenge of shortfalls in information from high seas transshipment activities, particularly on longline vessels,” said Mr. Kumoru.
  • The decision to provide compulsory funds to the Special Requirements Fund, which will help boost participation of Small Island Development State representatives in the decision-making processes of the Commission.
  • The adoption of a measure for the Compliance Monitoring Scheme. This will allow for continued monitoring and assessment of compliance by all Commission Members with the Commission’s obligations. “Doing this in a manner where it is effective, efficient and fair improves implementation of measures,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “The measure adopted provides a solid basis to ensure this as part of our future work.”

Mr. Kumoru pointed out that in taking actions like adopting a resolution for minimum labor standards and agreeing to a review of high seas transshipments, the WCPFC is playing an important role in addressing a wide-range of issues affecting the fishery.

“We are promoting action in support of human rights for fishers working in our fishery and that go to addressing concerns about trafficking in people and other illicit activities,” said Mr. Kumoru.

Both credited the success of this week’s work to the tireless efforts of the Pacific Island delegates to the meeting.

“The solid outcomes are the result of the hard work, patience and tenacity of the FFA and PNA member delegations with valuable support from Ministers present, and the excellent cooperation they received from our key partners,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen and Mr. Kumoru.

They also specially recognised the very able leadership of outgoing Chair Ms. Rhea Moss-Christian. “Ms. Moss-Christian’s steady hand, passion and commitment in steering the work of the Commission in the past four years has contributed immensely to advancing the Commission’s work.”

For more information on the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, contact Mr. Ludwig Kumoru, CEO, PNA Office, on email: ludwig@pnatuna.com, or ring PNA media coordinator Giff Johnson at (808) 699-1690 to arrange interviews with the PNA CEO.

For more information on the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, contact Hugh Walton on email: hugh.walton@ffa.int.

High seas transshipments of tuna targeted for action

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Honolulu 13 December 2018 — Pacific Island fisheries leaders want the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to effectively address a serious management gap in the tuna fishery: high seas tuna transshipments.

  The existing Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) measure governing transshipment was adopted in 2009 and is intended for review next year. 

  Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members, including the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) bloc, want to see a WCPFC review process that is comprehensive and results in significant strengthening of the current measure.

   Ina letter last month to WCPFC Executive Director Feleti Teo, Forum Fisheries Committee Chairperson Tepaeru Herrmann expressed the concern of FFA members that insufficient regulation, monitoring and reporting of tuna transshipment, particularly on the high seas, was contributing to distort the reporting of catches.

  Ms. Herrmann said the current system of unmonitored transshipments on the high seas also exposed WCPFC members, cooperating non-members and participating territories (known as CCMs), and the wider Pacific region, to increased risks of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and transnational criminal activity.    

   Subject to not infringing on the right of CCMs to regulate transshipment occurring in areas under national jurisdiction, the WCPFC has a responsibility to effectively regulate transshipment activities to address these risks, she said.

  The aim of FFA members is to see all transshipments in the WCPFC area occurring in port. The FFA’s position is consistent with Article 29 of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention which provides that “the members of the Commission shall encourage their vessels, to the extent practicable, to conduct transshipment in port.”

  The PNA already requires all purse seine vessels operating in their waters to transship tuna in ports, which allows for monitoring of catch and other compliance measures to be enforced. PNA is also gearing to implement a ban on high seas bunkering for fishing vessels by fuel tankers beginning in2020. Currently, however, only a fraction of longline vessels transship their tuna catches in the ports of FFA members.  

   The current level and regulation of high seas transshipment activity is inconsistent with the objective of the WCPF Convention, said FFA Director General Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen and PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru in comments Thursday during the ongoing annual meeting of the WCPFC in Honolulu.

   Under the current WCPFC measure, there is to be no transshipment on the high seas except where a CCM has determined it is impracticable for its vessels to operate without being able to transship on the high seas. The measure requires CCMs to inform the WCPFC of any of their vessels transshipping on the high seas.

   The WCPFC measure requires a declaration prior to transshipping on the high seas, and a report after the operation is completed. A Final Compliance Monitoring Review report,which will address compliance with these and other provisions of the measure,is to be issued as part of the review of the 2009 measure scheduled for next year.

    The basis for approving high seas transshipments is that prohibition would cause significant economic hardship to vessels. This would be assessed in terms of the costs incurred and if in-port transshipment would require the vessel to make significant and substantial changes to its historical mode of operation as a result of the prohibition of transshipment on the high seas.

   “There is no proper mechanism for review of the transshipment justification and there is a shortfall in compliance with WCPFC reporting provisions,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.“This situation is untenable and results in high risks that catch data is not accurately and effectively reported.”

  She said FFA members are anxious to see the review of this 2009 transshipment conservation and management measure undertaken with diligence and a focus on compliance.

   She also noted the initiatives of many members to roll out electronic monitoring systems on longline vessels as a means of improving coverage for a sector of the Pacific tuna fishery that is currently not well monitored.

   “In2013, FFA facilitated the first electronic monitoring trials for longline vessels in the region in collaboration with SPC and industry. This trial coupled electronic systems with human observers to compare data in the context of WCPFC observer requirements,” she said.

More recently, four members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement — Palau, FSM, Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands — have engaged in a trial of electronic monitoring of longline vessels,using video cameras and training fisheries officers to use software programs to evaluate the film collected on longline vessels.

   “We need an outcome from this review (of the high seas transshipment measure) that properly addresses the reporting risks and results in the receipt of timely,complete and well-documented data from transshipment activity,” said Mr. Kumoru.

“Our position is to move as quickly as possible to a complete ban of all high seas transshipment. PNA already requires all purse seiners to transship their catch in port. We think all transshipments should take place in ports in our region. In-port transshipment generates economic benefits for our members as well as eliminating IUU and other risks inherent in unmonitored high seas transshipments.”

For more information on the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, contact Mr. Ludwig Kumoru, CEO, PNA Office, on email: ludwig@pnatuna.com,or ring PNA media coordinator Giff Johnson at (808) 699-1690 to arrange interviews with the PNA CEO.

For more information on the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, contact FFA media coordinator Donna Hoarder on email:donna,hoarder@ffa.int.

FFA backs stronger tuna management at Tuna Commission next week

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The 17 members of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) will again be advocating strongly for strengthened Conservation and Management Measures (CMM’s) at next week’s 15th session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meetings to be held in Honolulu from 9-14 December.

Specifically, the FFA will be pushing to advance several priority measures including the Tropical Tuna Measure and adoption of a Target Reference Point (TRP) for the South Pacific Albacore tuna stock.

“Sustained implementation of effective rights-based management by Pacific Islands countries over many years have been instrumental in the sustainable development of our region’s offshore tuna stocks,” said Tepaeru Herrmann, current Chair of Officials of the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC).

“Our collective management of the region’s tuna stocks over many years has promoted sustainability, increased revenues and employment and helped to actively reduce illegal fishing but we cannot be complacent about future sustainability nor ignore the need for improved management of high seas activity in our region.”

Tropical Tuna and South Pacific albacore

High on the list for the FFA is the Tropical Tuna Measure – the flagship management instrument of the Commission which is intended to guarantee the long-term health of the bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin tuna stocks upon which many Pacific Island economies depend.  FFA members are concerned to ensure that the measure is not weakened by pressure from major fishing nations to increase their share of the catch. “The recent upwards re-evaluation of bigeye tuna stock is no reason to be complacent about future sustainability” stated Matt Hooper, the Deputy Director General of the FFA.

WCPFC has also committed to adopt a Target Reference Point (TRP) for the South Pacific Albacore tuna stock at this year’s meeting.  FFA members are determined that WCPFC needs to follow through on this to help bring the fishery back into economic health. “For the past three years this matter has been deferred under pressure from distant water interests in the southern longline fishery” observed Mr Hooper, “We need to agree the TRP at this Commission meeting as a basis for improved management of this important fishery.”

FFA members met prior to the the Tuna Commission meeting next week to identify priorities

Improved Compliance with Agreed measures

The WCPFC Compliance Monitoring Scheme (CMS) is an audit-like process where all members sit as a panel to review compliance by each of them with the agreed rules.

FFA Director General Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen recalled “FFA members have consistently generated the majority of substantive conservation and management proposals within the WCPFC during its 15 years of existence.  FFA members remain committed to a CMS that is effective, efficient, fair and helps promote and improve compliance.”

FFA will be advocating for the CMS process to be streamlined and focus on ensuring compliance by members with WCPFC measures rather than getting embroiled in the detail of individual vessel level infringements which are dealt with elsewhere in the WCPFC’s processes.

FFA Senior Officials are currently meeting in Honolulu in preparation for next week’s Commission meetings, supported by the FFA Secretariat and the Office of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNAO).  The FFA will also meet with various delegation’s from Distant Water Fishing Nation’s (DWFN) this week who are also members of the WCPFC as part of building understanding of the issues and working towards consensus.

Background

While FFA member waters cover most of the fishable range of the tropical tuna stocks, the FFA members cannot fully conserve and manage these resources through their own zone-based actions. The annual WCPFC meeting is key to the collective management of fishing for tuna stocks in the whole Western and Central Pacific fishery and for agreeing limits on the exploitation of stocks, particularly in the high seas areas beyond the jurisdiction of FFA members. The Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) will convene in Honolulu the week before the main WCPFC meeting scheduled for 9-14 December to agree its approach to key WCPFC agenda items. Full collaboration and regional solidarity among FFA members, including the PNA member countries who manage the purse seine Vessel Day Scheme, is a key feature of this endeavour.

For further Information contact FFA Deputy Director General Matt Hooper at matt.hoopoer@ffa.int

New Director General of Forum Fisheries Agency starts

Categories Photography, The tuna picturePosted on
Congratulations Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, on her assumption of duties as the new Director-General of the Forum Fisheries Agency in Honiara   A milestone in the history of the FFA Secretariat in Honiara and its membership.
The Vision of the FFA is that “Our people will enjoy the highest levels of social and economic benefits through the sustainable use of our offshore fisheries resources”.