Samoa wants tropical tuna measure to remain, and action on climate change

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HONOLULU, 13 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—- Any revision of the Tropical Tuna measure by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) will not be supported by Samoa.

FisheriesMinister Lopaoo Natanielu Mua told delegates at this week’s 15th WCPFC meeting this is one key area that is critically important to Samoa and also of importance to other Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

“We are not comfortable with any revision of the tropical tuna measure that will tend to limit the opportunity for a small island developing States to participate in high-seas fishing until such time as high seas limits and a fair price for allocating that limit has been agreed to by the Commission.”

Mua is also keen to see action on albacore tuna which are mainly found in more temperate waters.

“The South Pacific albacore tuna is very important to Samoa as it is the target species for our domestic longline fishery which had been one of the main foreign revenue earners for our economy as well as supporting food security and livelihoods for our people. The inability of the commission to agree to a Target Reference point for the South Pacific albacore will further delay implementation of desired management Interventions, while our domestic fleet is experiencing poor conditions and prolonged reduction in catches.”

“I am also aware of the uneven playing field due to the subsidy support received by some fleets and therefore an appropriate management strategy should be in place to ensure domestic an unsubsidised fleet remain economically viable,” said Mua.

He has also asked the Tuna Commission to urgently develop an agreed robust management arrangement for South Pacific albacore.

“I respectfully ask the Commission members, particularly our fishing partners interested in the South Pacific albacore, to urgently develop an agreed robust management arrangement for South Pacific albacore including progressing with and agreement on the various elements of a harvest strategy, such as the interim target reference point to reverse the decline in biomass trends we have observed of overtime and to restore profitable levels to the fishery.”

Mua explained Samoa is very disadvantaged in terms of its EEZ-size due to its geographic location and being sealocked by EEZs of other Pacific Island States.

“This situation has limited our ability to realise our fishing interest and development aspirations especially opportunities for our domestic fleet operations to be profitable as well as minimising the potential undesirable impacts of commercial operations on our small external fishery.”

“We are considering exploring development opportunities that take place in the closest high seas and your serious consideration of our situation would be much appreciated,” Mua emphasised at the meeting.

As Small island developing States, Mua said the Pacific is facing greater challenges from collapsing fisheries due to increasing level of fishing including IUU, environmental impacts and climate change.

“These challenges threaten the Integrity of our oceans and marine ecosystems and importantly our survival if we are not careful. On that regard we should be mindful that the burden actions to protect our oceans and manage our fisheries resources should not disproportionately fall on our small island developing states.”

“Our resource-constrained Islands, living and non-living resources in our oceans,and beyond high seas, present an exciting prospect in expanding our limited resource base. For instance, tuna and other highly migratory species are critically important as it provides the means for food security, livelihood and economic prosperity for Samoa as a Small Island Developing State.

“It is also important to note that over the past few the decisions, outcomes and inaction by the Commission on addressing key issues pertaining to the management of important tuna stocks have significantly impacted on realising social and economic benefits for some if not all Small Island Developing States, including Samoa,” he said. ……PACNEWS

Kiribati – the Pacific’s biggest tuna nation – backs FFA calls in tough tuna talks

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HONOLULU, 12 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—

Kiribati Fisheries Minister Tetabo Nakara has called on nations involved in the Western and Central Pacific fishery to overcome their differences and use science-based innovative solutions to ensure a sustainable Pacific fishery for future generations.

With a catch of around 700,000 tonnes a year, more tuna is caught in Kiribati’s waters than in the waters of any other nation on earth.

In his opening address to the 15thWestern and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Honolulu, Mr Nakara supported the positions put forward by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement and challenged distant water fishing nations and coastal states alike to ‘ensure that no one is made worse off from our collective decisions’.

“It is not easy to get everyone on board but as the youngest of all RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations) responsible for the world’s greatest tuna resource, I am hopeful and confident that there is good opportunity for needed improvement with informed science-based management decisions at this forum,” Nakara said

Kiribati’s called on members of the WCPFC to set harvest control rules with well-defined target reference points for each tuna species and to adopt a new measure on the Compliance Monitoring System which is effective, efficient and fair.

Fisheries Minister Tetabo Nakara said it’s in their collective interests in search for best and innovative solutions on tuna species.

The challenge is real and similar to that faced in global environmental and climate change forums Mr Nakara said

“It is the collective call on us all as political leaders, scientists, industries, NGOs and our hard-working officials to continue our dialogue in search for best and innovative solutions that will ensure our common call for tuna resources that have brought us all to this important gathering are conserved and sustained sustainably managed,” he said.

“We cannot deny that all we have our own and different issues and that is the reality.

But I urge the secretariat to continue to seek ways forward and solutions for members’ common long-term interests,” said Nakara.

He said they have made some good progress in adopting several necessary conservation and management measures for tropical tuna not only in the exclusive economic zones but also in the high seas.

 The recognition and adoption of arrangements that include FAD (Fish Aggregating Device) closures at the WCPFC level is further evidence of collective achievement, and in particular appreciation of the coastal states aspirations, he said.

“I believe these are some of the factors that have contributed positively to the improvement in stock status particularly for bigeye and yellowfin tuna.

Other priorities for Kiribati include the development and establishment of harvest control rules with well-defined Target Reference Points.

These Nakara noted have “proven politically difficult and sensitive and we all know and understand why this is difficult”.

The Kiribati Fisheries Minister also said their experience with the Compliance Monitoring Scheme (CMS) that has been in place for the last eight years requires systematic improvements so that it facilitates achievement for its intention.

“My delegation is of the belief that the new proposed measure by FFA members is rebuilt on the principle of fairness, effectiveness and efficiency.

It is for that reason, the Minister encouraged member nations to adopting the new measure proposed at this meeting to ensure the Commission has in place a sound basis to accomplish compliance.

“I note that there are agenda items that may polarise our collective approach and when those agenda items are considered I would mutually call on us all to put aside our differences and to humbly approach those issues as one group in one voice with one amicable solution agreeable to us all.

Let all aim to ensure that no one is made worse off from our collective decision,” Nakara told WCPF delegates.

Nakara reminded delegates that at last year’s WCPFC the Chair challenged commission members with a rare opportunity to come up with a legacy that all future generations would remember this generation for.

“To my delegation that legacy is ensuring our future generation access the same or higher level of benefits from our common tuna resources,” he said.

The WCPFC meeting ends on Friday……PACNEWS

FFA push for Tropical Tuna measure to be maintained: WCPFC negotiations reach a critical stage

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HONOLULU, 13 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—– Members of the 17-nation Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) will push for the Tropical Tuna measure adopted at last year’s meeting to be maintained and will not take the fight lying down if any moves are made to weaken the measures.

That’s the blunt message from FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou Roosen, saying the region solidarity on the issue remains.

The Tropical Tuna Measure, which regulates a catch worth US$4.5 billion, is a three-year agreement.

It is designed to ensure skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks are maintained at recent average levels and capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.

It has come under challenge from a United States proposal to allow its Hawaii-based longline fleet to increase its catch limits in recognition of their better than average monitoring of their fleet’s activities.

The FFA and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) have a joint position for the Tropical Tuna Measure that they will not allow for an increase in the catch.

In the opening session of the WCPFC Pacific ministers and Delegation Heads demonstrated that solidarity with one after another calling for support for FFA positions going into WCPFC and for no weakening of the tropical tuna measure.

Cook Islands Head of Delegation, Tepaeru Herrmann, speaking as Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee on behalf of all FFA nations, reminded members that at the very first meeting of the Commission in the same conference centre in Honolulu they had agreed to some important principles.

“At that first meeting, we reached a common understanding on the need for sustainable development of the tuna resources of ou rregion, the importance of fishing responsibly, the importance of effective enforcement, and the need for effective cooperation between us. 

“Those were our founding motivations as a collective and from which we must draw inspiration from this week in our deliberations,” she said.

On the tropical tuna measure Herrmann said: ”This is currently a well-balanced measure which we all worked very hard to develop and adopt.  Therefore, our position is to maintain the strength of this measure and not weaken the delicate balance in its existing provisions.” 

Over the past two years more sophisticated ways of assessing fish stocks has led to an easing of concerns that bigeye tuna, in particular, had reached critically low levels.

Despite the improved assessment advice from WCPFC’s Scientific Committee remains that as a precautionary approach fishing mortality on bigeye should not be increased from the recent average (2011-2014).

It is advice the FFA is determined the Commission will heed.

“That is why we say there is a delicate balance in the tropical tuna measure,” Dr Tupou-Roosen explained.

Tuvalu is one of the Pacific nations for which fisheries income makes up more than half of its annual gross domestic product.

Natural Resources Minister Puakena Boreham told the opening of WCPFC that Tuvalu believes science-based management is essential and it is looking to Commission to respect the science and ensure that there be no bigger catch of bigeye tuna.

……PACNEWS

Tuvalu fisheries Minister calls for PNA to put their house in order

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HONOLULU, 10 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—-Tuvalu’s Minister for Fisheries has called on members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) to put their house in order first, after the island nation was unhappy with the PNA budget.

Dr Puakena Boreham made a hard-hitting statement at the PNA meeting in Honolulu on Friday (7 December).

“Fellow Ministers you may recall that we were unhappy with the budget presented to us in Nauru for 2018 and 2019, and directed officials and the secretariat to come back to us with a solution for the shortfall in 2018, and a balanced budget for 2019. I understand that this has been done,” Boreham said.

“Looking forward, we need to ensure that we do not get into this position again. I recognise that the CEO inherited a confused situation with regard to the finances of the PNAO and is working to resolve the problems that this has caused.

“As members we also need to be more careful about demanding more work and new projects unless we fully understand the costs and how they will be met,” she told delegates at the meeting.

Dr Boreham also called for more consultation on the PNA’s strategic plan.

“In my personal opinion, it would have been useful to have some more consultation on this plan before coming to the point of approval – but I understand that our officials have reviewed it several times.

She also called for solidarity among PNA members to ensure their rights over fisheries resources management were not undermined by Distant Water Fishing nations (DWFNs) at the WCPFC meeting this week.

“I look forward to hearing more about the key issues. WCPFC is a slow and often frustrating process, but we need to work together as PNA members to ensure that our valuable rights to manage and develop our fisheries are not undermined,” Dr Boreham explained said.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea Fisheries Minister Patrick Basa told the meeting that as PNA members they had seen growth in collective revenue from US60m per year a decade ago to US$400million more recently.

He also called for PNA to consider subscription fees for member states to boost PNA office operations.

“We need the PNA Office to continue to function effectively and efficiently with necessary financial support. It is therefore incumbent upon the Parties to consider agreeing to some form of Administrative or Subscription fees from each PNA member,” Basa said.

“A good strategic plan is essential for the PNA and PNA Office going forward in the next 5 years. The Strategic Plan is important to the PNA to guide us in achieving the objective of the PNA– and that is to “increase economic value and derive greater benefits from our tuna resources. In this context, I commend the work that is being done by the PNA office. I would like to see the role of the PNA Office clearly stated in this Strategic Plan, the direction that PNAO will be taking in the next five(5) years and set clear guidelines on making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.”

Basa also called for solidarity from PNA member countries who are also members of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)to maintain their common positions in terms of disproportionate burden on the small island developing states in living up to the measures adopted at the Tuna Commission.

The disproportionate burden is the extra burden or cost placed on resource owning states as a result of conservation measures.

“We must continue to advocate strongly our position on our Sovereignty, as Coastal States and ensure the Commission focuses on establishing measures in the High Seas as well as adoption of compatible conservation and management measures in the EEZ.

“I would also like to inform colleague ministers that the purchase of IFIMS is now before the Government of PNG for approval,” Basa told PNA Ministers

The PNA Friday passed its 2019 operation budget of US$4.5 million.

PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru says members don’t pay subscription for its membership to run its operations.

“From the start the parties do not contribute towards the office, the office go on commercial business they don’t contribute to support the PNA office we have always raised our money from a percentage of the (fishing) day’s traded through the office but our programs have expanded so now we are looking at how else we can raise money- we can’t keep on charging the fishing boats.

If we charge the company’s too much then we may actually discourage them from fishing so we have got to weigh that up and also the more we charge it’s like it’s money you are taking out of the pockets of the parties if you can help lower those fees they are pay more to the parties …we have to broaden the base,” he said.