FFA Embraces the Call to Action for A “Balance for Better” World

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Republished from Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

HONIARA, 8 March 2019 – As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we recognise that the theme “Balance for Better” – a call to action for driving gender balance across the world – resonates with our own FFA vision.

“Our own FFA vision to cooperate to maximise benefits for our people through the sustainable use of our offshore resources is fully aligned with this theme. Sustainable management and development will not be successful unless we bring all of our people with us – men and women – on an equal footing,” said FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen.

In this our 40th Anniversary year, we take this timely opportunity to underline the FFA’s commitment to working actively alongside our member governments to further promote four critical objectives:

* To remove barriers, both formal and informal, that impede or deter the full participation of women within the offshore fisheries sector;

* To address the scourge of domestic violence and provide the practical support to do so;

* To work with all of our partners, including in the private sector, to promote greater gender balance and a respect for diversity that must underpin all our work;

* To acknowledge and celebrate the success and achievement of women in the sector.

In 2016, our Forum Fisheries Committee Ministerial meeting adopted the FFA Gender Equity Policy to guide all our work. To give a practical focus to this, the FFA Secretariat launched our Domestic and Family Violence Policy, which offers practical support to any staff member suffering from domestic violence. We recognise that no workplace is immune from these challenges, hence the importance of offering a compassionate and supportive environment for those affected.

Dr Tupou-Roosen said “On this special day we also acknowledge and celebrate the many thousands of women who are actively engaged in our offshore fisheries sector. These range from those employed in the processing and commercial sectors to those working as team leaders in their areas of expertise and in senior leadership roles.”

“Women are spearheading new pathways in what were once non-traditional areas of work including engineering, surveillance, ports, environment, fisheries observers and advocacy. Without a doubt, this success story will continue.”

Over the coming year and beyond, the FFA Secretariat will continue to work closely with our Members and partners to make this theme a reality in our sector.

Further information and photos contact: Donna Hoerder, FFA Media

ph: +677 773309, donna.hoerder@ffa.int

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

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 sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management. Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter #Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #ourmoanaourfish #FFA40th

Samoa and FFA sign agreement on Regional Aerial Surveillance Program

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Republished from Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

APIA, 28 February 2019 – The Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi and FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise Samoa’s support for the FFA’s Regional Aerial Surveillance Program.

The Regional Aerial Surveillance initiative is funded by Australia as part of the Pacific Maritime Security Program to enhance the surveillance capacity of Pacific Island countries to deter, detect and respond to illegal or security-related activities occurring in their Exclusive Economic Zones.

Under the MoU, Samoa will host one and Vanuatu the other, of two King Air200 aircrafts fitted with high-tech sensors, avionics and communications technologies, capable of detecting fishing vessels over a wide area of ocean. Dr Tupou-Roosen said the MoU with Samoa was another significant step forward.

“I wish to acknowledge the generous support of the Government of Australia to strengthen the surveillance capabilities of participating Members through the Pacific Maritime Security Program. This will enable the FFA to assist Pacific islands countries in further addressing maritime surveillance needs and enforcement operations,” said Hon. Tuilaepa Malielegaoi.

“The surveillance programme, in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat program, will provide targeted maritime patrolling and enhance the ability of Pacific island countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as illegal fishing and transnational crime,” he added.

“The Marshall Islands signed a similar agreement earlier this month and now Samoa is also demonstrating leadership with its willingness to host one of the King Aircraft. Our Members are contributing to a new level of regional cooperation, with Australia funding the Program and the FFA Secretariat managing the planes and working in close consultation with Members,” said FFA DG, Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

The Regional Aerial Surveillance Program commenced in December 2017. Two King Air aircrafts will provide 1400 hours of aerial surveillance per year for 15 FFA Members.

The Regional Surveillance Programme provides targeted maritime patrolling
Image: FFA

For further information contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, donna.hoerder@ffa.int, ph: +677 7733097

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

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 sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management.

Follow us on Facebook | on Twitter #Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #ourmoanaourfish #FFA40th

About Samoa Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)

The Ministry is responsible for the administration of Government’s business with foreign countries and their governments as well as international organizations. It also endeavours to initiate and continue to provide high quality and professional policy advice to Government on the management of Samoa’s foreign and trade relations. The Ministry is committed to promoting Samoa’s national interests to achieve most benefits in relation to political, trade and economic and security 

The Marshall Islands and Thailand establish cooperation and exchange of information to prevent IUU fishing practices

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Republished from Francisco Blaha’s Blog FEBRUARY 23, 2019

I have been at the 6th Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW) here in Bangkok since the 18 Feb. As we ( the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority MIMRA) have been invited to present what we are doing in terms of our Port State Measures (PSM) system to authorise transhipments.

I say “we” because there are 4 of us; Sam Lawni (Deputy Director), Laurence Edwards (Legal Counsel) and Beau Bigler (Fishery Officer) and myself as an Offshore Fisheries Advisor. I was quite keen for all of us to come to this GFETW as conference only happens every two or three years. It was organised by the International Fisheries Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) Network to improve and enhance the capacity and communications of MCS practitioners around the world. The fact that we are in Bangkok made it more special.

While a lot of effort has been focused on the control of transhipments at sea, transhipments from fishing vessels to refrigerated carriers in port are a vital element in the Pacific tuna fishery and a daily occurrence for us. Thailand is the biggest tuna processing country in the world, and I’d say that half of the transhipments we authorise in Majuro will be arriving here to be processed; we call it the “tuna highway”.

From the “transhipment port” perspective, PSM best practices require the port to take a series of steps prior to authorising port use for transhipment, including: a standardised and integrated process of advance notice and arrival fishing vessel intelligence-based risk analysis using available remote sensing capacities, a transhipment authorization protocol, the estimation of volumes transhipped, and the departure clearance of the carriers with full traceability of fish on board and hatch plan totals.

From the receiving port perspective, as is the case in Bangkok, it must be considered that the fish on board the carriers have “not been previously landed”. Thailand’s Department of Fisheries (DoF) under the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) principles has to evaluate compliance on the legality of the catches of each of the fishing vessels being transported on the carrier, plus the volumes on departure from the last transhipment port. This is to assess the possibility that the carrier would have received fish on board since the last declared port departure. As in many other cases worldwide, the processing states do not have access to all the compliance tools used by the flag states of the fishing vessels, and perhaps most importantly the coastal states where those catches were taken. Having a direct link of collaboration with the regional port states where those vessels transhipped initially facilitate the fulfilment of their obligations under PSMA.

On the other side, only on receiving the fish at the processing plants in Thailand are the verified weights per species per vessels known. Before this, volumes and species composition are based on estimates from the logsheets and observers/monitors estimations. In fact, a 2017 FFA study on the quantification of IUU for the region identified underreporting of catches as the region’s biggest threat in terms of IUU. Yet Thailand’s DoF as part of their e-Traceability program collects all the “weigh in” values of the fish originating on each fishing vessels inside every arriving carrier. This verified information available in Thailand is vital to further understanding the magnitude of the underreporting problem in the Pacific.

6th Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW), Bangkok. Image: Francisco Blaha

Based on the understanding of this reality, the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA), as the fisheries body of the most important transhipment port in the Pacific (>400 a year), approached Thailand’s Department of Fisheries to establish an MoU for cooperation and exchange of information of common interest and mutual benefit.

The MoU, signed on 22 February, is the result of over a year-long engagement I have been fostering between these 2 countries I work substantially with. Both sides identified that reciprocal exchange of fisheries data was an area of critical importance that would require mutual collaboration between key players. In this case, the Marshall Islands (Majuro) being arguably the busiest transhipment port in the world and Thailand (Bangkok) as the largest tuna processing and port State.

With the signing of the MoU, the Marshall Islands, through MIMRA, will now be able to receive verified weights of tuna catches that are transshipped in Majuro and offloaded in Bangkok from Thai fisheries inspection officers on a regular basis.

In essence, this will enable officers on both sides to trace the catch both ways to ensure its legality throughout the entire chain of custody, thereby preventing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices. This verified information is vital to further understand the magnitude of the catch underreporting problem in the region.

The MoU is in line with the Marshall Islands IUU-Free Pacific initiative as declared by H.E. Madam President Dr. Hilda C. Heine last year. Having this direct link of collaboration with a key player like Thailand further facilitates the fulfilment of obligations under the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), which the Marshall Islands, through MIMRA, is currently considering signing and ratifying in the near future.

At a personal level it has been a huge 10 days as I facilitated a workshop for PEW and WWF full of people I admire, then presented at global fisheries MCS workshop on what are we doing in the Marshall Islands , and realise that I’m a consultant to both the gold (Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency) and silver (ThaiDoF/OceanMind) winners of the stop IUU awards! and then facilitating the Marshalls-Thailand MoU.

PRESS RELEASE: Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Signs Fisheries Collaboration MoU with Thailand’s Department of Fisheries

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Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, 22 February 2018 – Tuna transhipments from fishing vessels to refrigerated carrier vessels is a daily occurrence in Majuro port and represent a vital element of the Pacific tuna fishery and the ongoing Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) efforts undertaken by Pacific Island countries.

Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) officials, along with their NZMFAT Offshore Fisheries Advisor, were in Bangkok, Thailand this week to attend the 6th Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW)* from 18 – 22 February 2019.

Along the margins, the team took the opportunity to hold brief bilateral discussions with the Thailand Department of Fisheries on issues of mutual interest, namely, the signing of a fisheries cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The MoU, signed on 22 February, is the result of a year-long engagement between the 2 countries whereby both sides identified that reciprocal exchange of fisheries data was an area of critical importance that would require mutual collaboration between key players, in this case, RMI (Majuro) being arguably the busiest transhipment port in the world and Thailand (Bangkok) as the largest tuna receiving/processing port.

With the signing of the MoU, the RMI, through MIMRA, will now be able to receive verified weights of tuna catches that are transhipped in Majuro and offloaded in Bangkok from Thai fisheries inspection officers on a regular basis.

In essence, this will enable officers on both sides to trace the catch both ways to ensure its legality throughout the entire chain of custody thereby preventing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices. This verified information is vital to further understand the magnitude of the catch underreporting problem in the region.

MIMRA will provide relevant transhipment data to Thailand’s Department of Fisheries including estimation of volumes transhipped in Majuro port along with departure clearance of carrier vessels with full traceability of catch on board and hatch plan totals – information that Thailand has otherwise been unable to collect from Coastal States whose EEZs the catch is taken and in this case the port of Majuro where a large volume of the tuna that ends up in Bangkok is transhipped from purse seine fishing vessels onto carrier vessels.

The MoU is in line with the RMI IUU-Free Pacific initiative as declared by H.E. Madam President Dr. Hilda C. Heine last year. Having this direct link of collaboration with a key player like Thailand further facilitates the fulfilment of obligations under the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), which the RMI, through MIMRA, is currently considering signing and ratifying in the near future.

*The GFETW is a biennial or triennial conference organized by the International Fisheries Monitoring Control and Survelliance (MCS) Network to improve and enhance capacity and communications of MCS practitioners around the world. Sustainable fisheries can only be achieved when fishing is pursued in compliance with the applicable rules, and therefore all fishing activities in the world’s oceans and seas should be subject to adequate levels of monitoring, surveillance, inspection and enforcement.

MEDIA RELEASE: FFA wins global Stop IUU Fishing prize

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BANGKOK 22 February 2019 – The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was awarded the top prize in the 2019 Stop Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing competition yesterday.

“This achievement recognises FFA’s work in Monitoring, Control and Surveillance initiatives to deter IUU fishing in the Pacific. Well done to the team at FFA, past and present, and all of our FFA member countries. And the award is particularly timely given FFA has just kicked off our 40th anniversary celebrations,” said FFA Director General, Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen.

“This award is a reflection of the work we do to protect the rights of FFA members over the tuna within our Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), and the foundation of the economic and social benefits that flow from that. We have to ensure that there is long term sustainability of oceanic fish stocks to secure our peoples’ future livelihoods and regional food security.”

A panel of judges used a range of key criteria including demonstrated success and innovation in reducing IUU, the feasibility and cost of IUU mitigation activities, the potential for replication and approaches to education and capacity building.

“In preparing our submission for the award, the FFA Secretariat felt we were well able to demonstrate high level performance against all the criteria” said Dr Tupou-Roosen. “Our integrated approaches to combatting IUU are coordinated through the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre at FFA and encapsulated in our Regional Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Strategy.”

“The underpinning theme of FFA and the IUU strategy is our regional cooperation. That is our Pacific way and it is the only way we are going to ensure a successful, safe, secure and prosperous future for our region,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

The bi-annual competition is run by the Global Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Network and was announced at its meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

While receiving the prize on behalf of FFA, the Acting Director for Fisheries Operations, Mr Allan Rahari, extended his thanks to the judges for their confidence in FFA, as well as the hard work and commitment of the FFA Secretariat’s current and former staff, and the Member countries. The FFA video that was part of the Agency’s submission for the award can be viewed below.


About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
FFA was established to help its 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

FFA was established to help its 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

#Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #ourmoanaourfish #FFA40th

PRESS RELEASE: FFA Director General makes first official visit to RMI

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* Meets with President Hilda C Heine

* Backs IUU FREE Pacific campaign

* Signs MoU with Govt on Aerial Surveillance Programme (ASP)

* Signs MoU with PNAO

Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen with PNG participants of NTIS exercise. Credit: Pacific Guardians

MAJURO, 12 February 2019 – Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen has made her first official visit to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, meeting last week with Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) President, Her Excellency, Dr Hilda C. Heine and Cabinet ministers.

During her meeting with President Heine and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. John M. Silk, Dr Tupou-Roosen discussed FFA’s vision and offered the FFA’s full support for the campaign against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing being led by RMI. She also highlighted FFA”s 40th anniversary plans.

“The meeting was a valuable opportunity to discuss ways in which FFA and RMI can collaborate to combat IUU fishing,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen. “We stand behind President Heine’s bold challenge for an IUU FREE Pacific by 2023. We will continue our work to combat IUU fishing with innovative tools such as the Persons of Interest project, Electronic Monitoring and Reporting work, and the enhanced capability provided through the Aerial Surveillance Programme.” They also discussed an IUU Colloquium that would be hosted by RMI later this year.

Parties to the Nauru Agreement Organisation CEO, Ludwig Kumoru and RMI Marine Resources Authority Director, Glen Joseph were also in attendance at the meeting.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Marshall Islands in support of the Aerial Surveillance Programme

In order to strengthen mechanisms to protect their fisheries resources and the need to enhance their monitoring, control and surveillance, the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Dennis Momotaro signed an MoU in support of FFA’s Regional Aerial Surveillance Programme with Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

“This MoU is symbolic as it is sets out clear parameters within which the aircraft assistance will operate, and is the platform for ensuring efficient delivery of services for RMI,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen

“This is a landmark achievement as it will complement the existing monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) framework and strongly contribute towards achieving the 2023 IUU free Pacific Challenge laid down by H.E. President Hilda Heine.”

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement with the PNAO

The visit also coincided with the signing of a historic Memorandum of Understanding between the FFA and the PNAO.

Dr. Tupou- Roosen and Mr Kumoru agreed to work closely together in supporting Members in progressing issues of common interest such as ensuring the effective management of the longline fishery and improved labour conditions on fishing vessels.

“This MoU will not only formalise and bolster our organisations relationship but will specifically move forward the directives from Members including RMI President Heine’s 2023 IUU FREE Pacific challenge,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

“Our vision is to make a positive difference on the livelihoods of Pacific people. None of our goals will occur without solidarity and cooperation,” she said.

“Cooperation is the cornerstone of our success in the Pacific and we will work together to overcome development challenges.”

Further information: Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, donna.hoerder@ffa.int, ph: +679 9265518

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA was established to help its 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

#Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #ourmoanaourfish

Safety of Pacific fisheries observers must be improved – PNA

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Republished from Radio New Zealand, 1 February 2019

The head of the Parties to Nauru Agreement says the safety of Pacific fisheries observers working on foreign vessels must be improved.

Fisheries observers monitor tuna catches onboard purse seiners as well as in-port trans-shipment, which provides important data for fisheries managers. Credit: Hilary Hosia

Over the past year a number of observers have been lost at sea and Ludwig Kumoru said more needed to be done to keep them safe.

Mr Kumoru said industry leaders agreed at a recent meeting to look at protecting observers and crews better.

“For the PNA, we have lost a couple of observers – PNG, Kiribati. One thing that we have done now under FFA is to push this thing for observer safe – what is the responsibility of the fishing boats when it comes to the welfare of the observer.

“When they are on the boat or when they get off – the countries. What is their responsibility to the observer? How are they going to be paid if something goes wrong with these observers.”

Last year East Sepik Governor Allan Bird told the Papua New Guinea Parliament that 18 local observers had disappeared at sea without a trace.

He called on the government to look into the cases because the men’s families deserved to know what happened to their loved ones.

FSM to review tuna fishing access concession practices

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Republished from Marianas Variety, 31 January 2019

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — During a recent cabinet meeting in Palikir, President Peter M. Christian ordered an official review of current FSM tuna fishing policy and practices, as a component of ongoing internal tuna fisheries development policy review.

He expressed particular concern that concessions may have been granted without tangible proof of full performance by the concession grantee of agreed business investments and the delivery of benefits to the FSM and its people. Officials were instructed to ensure a proper and fair balance between maximizing revenues from licensing foreign fishing boats and promoting greater national participation in on-shore services and investment.

President Christian was explicit: the FSM government must not grant concessions until fishing investors and operators can demonstrate genuine on-shore business investments and tangible results that show an overall net gain to FSM’s economy and the well-being of its people and communities.

He called for more robust enforcement of concession trade-offs to be established by 2020.

“Genuine investors and partners should have no fear about a tightening up of FSM policies and practices,” President Christian said. “They will understand that delivering genuine and equitable two-way benefits provide the best assurance of long-term business viability and the sustainability of the tuna resource.” 

While the first 12 nautical miles from land is considered territorial waters — i.e., the surface water and everything below is officially part of the country it’s near — an Exclusive Economic Zone is the sea zone stretching 200 nautical miles from the coast. While the surface water is considered international (i.e. ships can travel through it) everything below the water, including its fish, is for that country’s use. The value of tuna fishing access in the FSM’s EEZ has grown steadily since 2007, resulting from the implementation of the Vessel Day Scheme by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement  and the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission fishing effort restrictions. The FSM is poised to benefit significantly from restructuring and transforming its tuna fishery from foreign-based fishing operations to domestically-based fisheries.

The FSM, like most other Pacific Island Countries, has granted fishing fee concessions, or discounts, to fishing companies that are nationally owned or based in the FSM. Since 1987 the FSM has provided incentives to help offset initial high establishment costs that companies might face in order to invest in or transfer their operations to FSM. This concession policy was based on the understanding that those investments and activities would generate clear and tangible socio-economic benefits to the FSM economy and community, within an agreed timeframe, that would offset the fishing access revenues given up by the government when it grants the concessions.

The FSM’s fishing industry has grown from just two fishing companies with five purse seiners to 23 purse seiners in 2019. The growth is primarily attributed to the practice of granting concessionary VDS rates for domestic-basing that creates jobs for FSM citizens and enables the FSM’s full participation in the fishery and its development. FSM’s goal is to maximize the contribution of the fishery industry toward socio-economic development of the FSM and maximizing benefits to the resource owners (the people of the FSM). With larger values at stake in the fishery, the FSM government is reviewing and tightening up its investment and fishing access concession policies to ensure that they achieve the level of benefits that they seek within its national development aspirations.

FSM government officials emphasize the importance of full compliance by fishing concession holders to prove, as much as possible, the level of benefits they had promised to deliver in return for the concessions they have received.

The National Oceanic Resource Management Authority, its Executive Director Eugene Pangelinan said, “will implement robust monitoring of concessions to inform annual FSM VDS allocations to its fishing industry as called for by the president.”

FSM government, fisheries sector learn about biodegradable fish aggregation devices

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Republished from Marianas Variety, 30 January 2019

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — The Federated States of Micronesia, relies heavily on fish for cultural, nutritional, and economical reasons.

While the FSM has taken the lead in many areas when it comes to simultaneously maximizing revenue, protecting the environment, and ensuring the sustainability of our fish populations — such as the Technology for Tuna Transparency or T-3 Challenge initiated by FSM President Peter M. Christian at the fifth Our Oceans Conference in October 2018 — there’s still much our country can do to improve.

It was with this in mind that, on Jan. 23 2019, representatives of the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority, Pohnpei State’s Department of Public Safety’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, National Fisheries Corporation, Caroline Fisheries Corporation, Diving Seagull, and Dongwon Industries, attended an International Seafood Sustainability Foundation  workshop on biodegradable fish aggregation devices or FADs.

The workshop’s goals included educating the fishing sector on new regulations from the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission on FADs, producing buy-in on how the sector can use biodegradable FADs, and scientific projects in our part of the Pacific.

National Oceanic Resource Management Authority, Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, private fisheries, and International Seafood Sustainability Foundation representatives pose for a group photo. Credit: FSMIS

Citizens unfamiliar with FADs (Micronesians frequently call them “payao”) may appreciate the definition from ISSF: FADs are “man-made floating objects specifically designed to encourage fish aggregation at the device. They can be anchored to the ocean floor or set to drift in the open ocean.”

Aggregation means putting together, so a FAD essentially attracts lots of fish together.

Historically FADs are useful insofar as they can gather lots of fish together in one place, but in recent decades FADs have been made of synthetic materials (like nylon) and they have relatively negative publicity from being associated with problems such as bycatch (i.e. when you’re looking for tuna but you accidentally get sharks and turtles instead), reef damage, and overfishing.

The discussions in the morning focused on the history of FADs and their relationship with countries and fisheries, including in the FSM.

Standout observations included multiple local fisheries advising that approximately 80 percent of their FADs are variously lost, stolen, or drift beyond the legal boundaries of their fishing area —and worldwide approximately 10 percent of all ocean pollution is from lost fishing gear, and 640,000 tons of fishing gear end up in the sea every year (including FADs).

FSM citizens will recall that the aforementioned T-3 Challenge that NORMA and The Nature Conservancy are implementing intends to use electronic monitoring to quash the overfishing problem, and in conjunction with fishing fleets using biodegradable FADs ideally ocean pollution and bycatch issues from entanglement (i.e. when a fish gets stuck in a net) will become less pronounced.

Matthew Chigiyal, assistant director of NORMA, advised that “It’s…in your interest that there is some authority to see what is happening with your FAD…register your FAD per NORMA’s requirement.”

ISSF has been conducting numerous experiments in the past several years in countries such as Ghana (in Western Africa) and the Maldives (an island nation in the Indian Ocean) with biodegradable FADs, and has determined that natural materials like raw twisted cotton perform similarly to contemporary synthetic materials like nylon. (Banana fiber is also potentially useful, though there isn’t presently the industrialization necessary to support its use in large-scale development of FADs).

By the end of the discussions in the afternoon, NORMA, the local fishing companies, and ISSF were discussing what a long-term scientific project in the Western Pacific might look like.

The countries in the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, where more than 90 percent of purse seine fishing occurs, are developing a biodegradable and non-entangling program to reduce the adverse impacts of non-biodegradable materials, as well as the destruction, loss, or abandonment of fishing gear.

The FSM government is dedicated to protecting its ocean resources while simultaneously maximizing their use for the development and well-being of our people. Partnerships between the public sector (i.e. NORMA) and private sector (e.g. CFC, NFC, Diving Seagull) augmented with support from scientific leaders (i.e. ISSF) will help ensure a positive future for both our fish as well as the citizens of the FSM.

Pacific urged to stop Japan’s nuclear waste plans

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Republished from Radio New Zealand, 29 January 2019

Environmentalists want to stop Japan’s plans to discharge what they say is more than a million tonnes of highly contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

The Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Credit: supplied to Radio New Zealand

A Greenpeace nuclear specialist, Shaun Burnie, said a nuclear water crisis at the Fukushima Plant had been worsened by technical failures.

He said flawed decision-making behind the plans was driven by cost-cutting from the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Mr Burnie called on Pacific countries to stop Japan’s plans, given the need to protect the environment, regional communities and the fishing industry.

“Any nation that requires or is active in the Pacific on environmental issues, whether it’s economic, whether it’s fisheries.

“We’ve done so much damage to our oceans – from climate change, from nuclear weapons testing by France and the United States.

“The Japanese Government can make a decision in managing this waste without threatening the environment.

“And if they hear voices from around the Pacific saying that it’s not acceptable, that certainly can have an effect.”

Dr Tanaka Noriko from the Japanese Embassy in Wellington denied the Greenpeace report.

He said tests carried out on the nuclear water last year had shown a value below the detection rate.

But Greenpeace maintains the government and TEPCO must reassess their options for the long-term management of the highly contaminated water at Fukushima.

Mr Burnie said “the only viable option is the long-term storage of this water in robust steel tanks over at least the next century, and the parallel development of water processing technology”.

He said the government and TEPCO had set an objective of “solving” the radioactive water crisis by 2020, which was never credible.

Nuclear specialist, Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace Germany, north of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, with plant in background. Greenpeace. Credit: Photo supplied to Radio New Zealand

“TEPCO has finally admitted that its technology has failed to reduce levels of strontium, and other hazardous radioactivity, to below regulatory limits.

“Discharging into the Pacific is the worst option and must be ruled out.

“We have raised the water crisis with the UN International Maritime Organization and firmly stand with local communities, especially fisheries, who are strongly opposed to any plans to discharge contaminated water into their fishing grounds,” said Mr Burnie.