FFA, PNA combine to combat IUU fishing in the region

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Honolulu 7 December 2018 — Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is being targeted for elimination like never before following calls by Pacific Leaders for “action to end illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and associated activities.”

Earlier this year, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, who is also the current Chair of the Ministerial Forum Fisheries Committee, highlighted a key priority for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) “is concerted and strengthened collective approach to combating the continued threat of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”

In October, Marshall Islands President Dr. Hilda C. Heine again elevated the focus on IUU fishing by calling on Pacific nations and those fishing in the Pacific to strive to abolish IUU fishing within five years. “IUU activity has devastating consequences,” President Heine said. “A five-year target to eliminate IUU fishing by 2023 is bold but the stakes are too high not to be audacious in the goals we set. If we are serious about combating IUU, we need a tougher mindset.”

Pacific fisheries managers are using the momentum of calls from Leaders to ramp up work to mitigate IUU fishing, and FFA Senior Officials are meeting in Honolulu this week in advance of next week’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) annual meeting.

“The value of the Pacific fishery to individual Pacific Islanders and the economies of our 17 island members is enormous,” said Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen, Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). “This is motivating new initiatives in support of existing monitoring, control and surveillance programs to eliminate IUU fishing.”

“We have implemented a management system for the purse seiners through the vessel day scheme (VDS) that has greatly reduced opportunities for IUU activity in this fishery,” said Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Ludwig Kumoru. “Our requirement of 100 percent fisheries observer coverage on purse seiners and other measures is a big deterrent to illegal fishing.” Over 60 percent of the tuna caught in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean comes from the eight nation members of PNA.

“FFA and PNA monitoring, control and surveillance strategy is to develop and deploy game-changing applications in support of IUU mitigation,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “We’re leading the charge against IUU fishing,” said Mr. Kumoru.

But more work is needed and is in progress to combat IUU fishing, said the FFA Director General and the PNA CEO. A report on the impact of IUU fishing prepared for the FFA in 2016 estimated the value of catch associated with illegal fishing at over US$600 million annually, with the direct economic loss to FFA members of around US$150 million.

In particular, the FFA and PNA are calling for the support of distant water fishing nations, who are also members of the WCPFC, to eliminate IUU fishing. “We want them on board and to understand this is a collective effort of the FFA and PNA to implement a best practice strategy to effectively track and hold offenders accountable,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

At next week’s WCPFC meeting in Honolulu, the 17 FFA member countries, eight of whom are also members of the PNA, will be advocating strongly for the Commission to adopt an “IUU List” for 2019 to include three vessels that have previously been identified for IUU fishing in the region. FFA members have called on all Commission members “to actively work together to locate these vessels so that their illegal activities can be stopped,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

In another important development, the FFA is progressing work on its “Persons of Interest Strategy” as a tool for combating IUU fishing. FFA members are working to develop the process for identifying the operators behind illegal fishing vessels in the region. “These are tools that will help us combat the IUU problem,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “The Persons of Interest Project will collect, analyze and share personal information on the people behind rogue vessels, such as the owners, the captains, and the fish masters in order to provide greater information to FFA member authorities that issue licenses and target monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) effort.”

Through FFA and PNA regional MCS efforts, national-level activity, and coordination with Australia, New Zealand, the United States and France, the region now has a layered and expanding network focused on identifying and preventing IUU fishing.

FFA operates the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Center based in the Solomon Islands, a unique monitoring and enforcement facility that coordinates MCS work through the 17-member network, including through deployment of two year-round dedicated surveillance aircraft.

Under PNA’s Fisheries Information Management System (FIMS), there are now 240 purse seine vessels in the FFA region using daily electronic reporting of catch logsheets. This real time reporting allows for daily monitoring of catch across the region. Similarly, Pacific Islands Regional Fisheries Observers are increasingly using electronic reporting for daily upload of data forms. When combined with each vessel’s electronic Vessel Monitoring System reporting of vessel location, this daily reporting from vessels and observers means fisheries administrations are increasingly able to undertake a more focused effort on data analysis as cumbersome and time-consuming paper-based data entry is being phased out, said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “This allows for much improved analysis of possible IUU anomalies,” she added.

FFA through its Regional Fisheries Surveillance Center coordinates four large MCS operations annually, which provide coordinated regional surveillance. This integrates aerial and patrol ship support from the four FFA partners Australia, New Zealand, the United States and France, police and fisheries MCS personnel from all FFA member countries, a dedicated analytical hub and national patrol boat operations. These regional multilateral MCS operations resulted in the boarding of 743 fishing vessels from 2015-2018, resulting in 67 infringement actions issued by ship boarding personnel and 16 infringements issued by shore authorities.

Mr. Kumoru said IUU fishing continues to be a front-burner issue for Pacific Islands. “Eliminating IUU fishing is a core part of our fisheries management work and we look forward to support and participation from our partner nations and the fishing industry in this effort,” said Mr. Kumoru. “Working together to eliminate IUU will enhance sustainable and economically viable fisheries for the benefit of everyone.”

-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 Mr. Hugh Walton on email: hugh.walton@ffa.int.

FFA welcomes PNA participation in briefings pre-WCPFC

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Honolulu 3 December 2018 — Following the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) officials session Sunday, the Forum Fisheries Agency opened its four-day briefing Monday in Honolulu for fisheries officials in preparation for the upcoming Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting.

At the opening session for officials from the 17 member Pacific islands, FFA Director General Manu Tupou-Roosen welcomed PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru and PNA Office staff participation in briefing session.

“The PNA officials session Sunday and this week’s FFA briefing is an important part of our commitment to ensuring sustainable management of the fishery in the Pacific,” said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. He recognized Dr. Tupou-Roosen for ongoing collaboration between the FFA and PNA on the wide-array of fisheries management issues on which Pacific islands are engaged.

Mr. Kumoru made the point that these briefing sessions are essential for fisheries officials from the islands to effectively advocate for measures promoting sustainable management of fish stocks at the WCPFC. Mr. Kumoru noted, too, that the briefing sessions provide for discussion of the layers of detail that go into developing proposals and positions for “best practice” governance in the fishery.

“The FFA Director General reminded us that we are doing this work for the benefit of our people,” said Mr. Kumoru. “We are the resource owners. This is why we work together to promote effective measures at the WCPFC for sustainable management of our fisheries resources.”

Mr. Kumoru emphasized that ensuring tuna stocks remain healthy for the long term 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. “This is why the PNA and the FFA put so much effort into preparing for the WCPFC,” said Mr. Kumoru.

While zone-based management has been effective in maintaining purse seine fishing at sustainable levels, there continue to be challenges with the management of the longline sector, including on the high seas that need to be addressed by the WCPFC to ensure sustainable management of all tuna stocks, he said.

“There are many management issues we are working through this week in preparation for next week’s WCPFC annual meeting,” Mr. Kumoru said. “PNA members are part of the FFA membership. PNA may emphasize some issues over others, but we are on the same page with the FFA going into the WCPFC.”
The WCPFC annual meeting opens Monday December 10 and continues through Friday December 14 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.

NOTE:

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna (a popular tuna for canned products). The eight members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. Tokelau is a participating partner in implementing the Vessel Day Scheme together with the eight member nations.

PNA has been a champion for marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including closures of high seas pockets, seasonal bans on use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), satellite tracking of boats, in port transshipment, 100 percent observer coverage of purse seiners, closed areas for conservation, mesh size regulations, tuna catch retention requirements, hard limits on fishing effort, prohibitions against targeting whale sharks, shark action plans, and other conservation measures to protect the marine ecosystem.

For more information, 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.

Parties to Nauru Agreement prepare for Tuna Commission meeting

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Honolulu 2 December 2018 — Tuna resource owners from the Pacific islands met Sunday as part of internal preparation for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting from December 10-14 in Honolulu.

Officials from the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) met Sunday in Honolulu on their new five-year draft strategic plan, an electronic monitoring proposal focused on the longline fishing industry, budget plans for next year, and regional fisheries issues for the upcoming WCPFC annual meeting. The PNA officials meeting was chaired by Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority Director Charleston Deiye. A PNA fisheries ministers’ meeting this coming Friday in Honolulu will review the draft strategic plan, budget and other matters along with other WCPFC-related issues for policy consideration by government leaders from the eight PNA nations.

The PNA manages the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the global supply of skipjack tuna, which is mainly used for canned tuna.

Although there are dozens of fisheries management issues on the WCPFC’s agenda, PNA officials focused largely on two key issues: nations seeking to expand membership in the WCPFC and the existing tropical tuna measure governing fishing that expires at the end of 2018. PNA officials reiterated their position against admitting more countries to full membership, pointing out that “cooperating non-members” and “observers” can participate in the work of the Commission.

The current tropical tuna measure, approved by the WCPFC one year ago, was described as “a well-balanced” measure that should be extended. PNA officials support the stance that the existing measure should not be weakened in any way to maintain the sustainability of tuna stocks. These and other PNA positions for the WCPFC will go for endorsement to PNA ministers this Friday in Honolulu.
PNA is also moving toward adoption of a new five-year strategic plan to guide its work, including addressing climate change impacts on the fishery.

“The new strategic plan is essential to the ongoing improvement and expansion of sustainable fisheries management and commercial opportunities for our islands,” said PNA Chief Executive Officer Ludwig Kumoru. The new draft plan has been developed through a series of consultations the members during 2018, he said, adding that the five-year plan is moving to its final draft stage for presentation to government fisheries ministers for review and action.

The new strategic plan and focus on strengthening the PNA Office operation is essential to effective management of the tuna fishery in PNA waters, said Mr. Kumoru.

The draft presented to the PNA officials meeting Sunday in Honolulu will see PNA focus in three areas:
• Internal strengthening of the PNA Office, headquartered in Majuro, and improved alignment of various fisheries management programs now overseen by PNA and its members.
• Maintain and expand its influence in sustainably managing the tropical tuna fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including expansion of fish aggregating device (FAD) monitoring and electronic monitoring of fishing vessels and tuna catches, and ongoing management of the vessel day scheme that governs the purse seine fishery in the region — and has led to revenues for PNA members growing from $60 million annually in 2010 to close to half a billion dollars in 2017.
• Managing commercial and economic development opportunities in the tuna fishery at the regional and domestic levels for PNA.

A key point coming out of the PNA discussion is the importance of the organization’s Fisheries Information Management Systems (FIMS) that underpins PNA’s decision-making and management of the fishery.

The aim of the new strategic plan is to continue PNA’s unique ability to act quickly to implement programs in the fishery, said PNA consultant Wez Norris, who is assisting the development of the plan. “The aim is to maintain the flexibility of PNA, while providing better clarity for everyone’s roles and to strengthen the decision-making process,” Mr. Norris said.

The results of Sunday’s meetings will go to fisheries ministers Friday for review and endorsement.

Note to editors:

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna (a popular tuna for canned products). The eight members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. Tokelau is a participating partner in implementing the Vessel Day Scheme together with the eight member nations.

PNA has been a champion for marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including closures of high seas pockets, seasonal bans on use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), satellite tracking of boats, in port transshipment, 100 percent observer coverage of purse seiners, closed areas for conservation, mesh size regulations, tuna catch retention requirements, hard limits on fishing effort, prohibitions against targeting whale sharks, shark action plans, and other conservation measures to protect the marine ecosystem.

For more information, contact Mr. Ludwig Kumoru, CEO, PNA Office, on email: ludwig@pnatuna.com.