Pacific told of need to sustain tuna stocks

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‘Tuna is health’ was the theme for this year’s World Tuna Day (Photo: Fabien Forget, ISSF)

(HONIARA) With increasing demands for tuna stocks in the global market, the Solomon Islands and other Pacific region communities were reminded of the need to put in measures to ensure there are sustainable tuna stocks for the future.

Solomon Islands Minister for Fisheries & Marine Resources (MFMR) and Deputy Prime Minister, John Maneniaru highlighted this great reminder when speaking at the World Tuna Day 2019 Celebrations in Honiara, on Thursday 9th May 2019.

The theme for this year’s event is ‘Tuna is health’.

Mr Maneniaru said it is very important to take heed of the demands for the Pacific Tuna and the time is crucial for Solomon Islands and the Pacific Region.

Over the years the assessments on the tuna stocks in the region proved that taking the right measures will help the region address issues of sustainable management of tuna resources, notably depleted stocks.

“Today, with the high demand for tuna globally, the resource needs to be sustainably managed.

“This is important as our country takes a lot of revenue from this resource. Because of this resource many of our people can be employed (for example those who are currently employed by SolTuna and importantly tuna is a source of food and livelihood to our many, many coastal communities,” the Solomon Islands Deputy Prime Minister, said.

He added that as stakeholders to this important resource, his Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources (MFMR) will need to align its commitments towards ensuring sustainability of the country’s tuna stocks.

He assured the nation as the Minister responsible for Fisheries that he has dedicated himself to the development and sustainable management of tuna resources.

“As responsible Minister, I will collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure all Solomon Islanders receives maximum economic and social benefits from the country’s tuna resources,” Mr Maneniaru added.

Speaking according to the theme for the World Tuna Day 2019, Mr Maneniaru said for Solomon Islands, the country needs its tuna for a healthy community, healthy economy, a healthy nation, that is, a healthy Solomon Islands.

He said the WTD 2019 is a day of reflection and a day to reassure the nation’s commitments to the developments of tuna fisheries as well as the commitments towards the sustainable management of Solomon Islands tuna resources.

“It is our responsibility as fishermen who catch the fish, and as consumers who eat the fish.

“As a Solomon Islander, what is your take today? Whether you are a fisherman, a fish processor, policy maker or a decision maker, what is your commitment or contribution towards these important resources,” he asked.

For Solomon Islands, Tuna is the second largest revenue earner behind the depleting Logging Industry.

Kaburoro Ruaia, Manager of US Treaty at the Forum Fisheries Agency, confirmed the importance of tuna to the region during the World Tuna Day celebration in Honiara, Thursday 9th May.

Kaburoro Ruaia, Manager of US Treaty at the Forum Fisheries Agency, speaking about the importance of tuna to the region

He said the total annual tuna catch in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), where FFA Members are located, is estimated at 2.5 million metric tonnes.

“This is worth about $47 billion (US$5.8 billion), which is 60 percent of global catch.

“About 60 percent of the WCPO catch is made in FFA waters, which is estimated one third of global catch by volume (worth about $25 billion -US$3.48 billion),” Ruaia said.

Ruaia said the vision of FFA Members is to maximise social and economic benefits from the sustainable use of tuna resources.

He said this means making a positive difference in the lives of our Pacific people.

“The role of FFA is to assist and provide support to Members in achieving this vision.

“The assistance and support are delivered thought advisory services in tuna fisheries management, enhanced economic return, and coordinated monitoring, control and surveillance (MSC) activities,” he said.

The Manager, US Treaty at FFA said World Tuna Day provides an opportunity to celebrate some of the achievements of FFA Members, who own a large part of the world’s resources of tuna stock.

The WTD is celebrated on May 2 annually following the recognition of United Nations in December 2016.

However, the event was celebrated by Solomon Islands on Thursday 9th May, 2019 after the country settled down with the formation of its new government amidst minor tension in Honiara after the election of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

New ‘tuna’ polymer $5 banknote for Solomon Islands

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(HONIARA) The tiny Melanesian state of Solomon Islands now has a new polymer $5 banknote, which was officially released earlier this month.

It was launched on the International World Tuna Day (WTD) 2019, and one of the special features on the new $5 banknote is a ‘Tuna’.

The major design themes of the new note focus on creating a sustainable and responsible fishing industry, according to Daniel Haridi, Chief Manager – Currency, Banking, and Payments Department

The new note emphasises the importance of providing long term economic security for the nation, as well community and social cohesion.

“The design features a yellow-fin tuna and a traditional fishing hook on the front of the note to signal the importance of sustainability. 

“On the reverse side, we see a traditional spear-fishing scene that highlights the need to preserve and promote community activity as we move into the future,” Mr Haridi said.

Mr Haridi also stressed that the note handled challenges of cash usage through more than 900 islands and was the result of a comprehensive currency review conducted by the bank that revealed an opportunity for improved performance on the five-dollar note.

“Given the humidity and the common practice of crumpling banknotes, the review concluded that polymer would better serve the community for use as a market note due to its durability,” said Mr Haridi.

As a symbol of progress for the Solomon Islands, Mr Haridi also announced that the new polymer banknote will be the first circulating note in the world to include a new ultraviolet (UV) ink security feature.

“This feature can only be seen under UV light, and consists of two UV inks which are red and yellow on this note, that are also combined to create a third colour which is orange. 

“The visual effect is stunning and authorities checking the new note under UV light will be able to instantly authenticate the note,” said Mr. Haridi.

Speaking at the event to launch the new ‘Tuna’ banknote, Dr Luke Forau, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) said, the design element focuses on the fisheries sector.

“It should remind us of the important role that the fishing industry contributes to economic growth in SI.

“You will note that the yellow fin tuna is portrayed in the clear window on the note. On the reverse side of the note, traditional fishing is portrayed which is an emotional hook that we all relate to. Importantly, this design underscores our vision for a strong sense of community and social cohesion, which is vital to our nation’s future,” he said..

In addition, Dr Forau said the durable and recyclable characteristic of the polymer also fits with the country’s vision for a sustainable and responsible fishing industry.

“The design elements may be small but we hope that each time a person looks at the note he or she is reminded of the contributions of the tuna industry to this nation and the potential that we can get from this industry going forward.”

During last week’s WTD celebrations in Honiara, Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI), statistic report stated that tuna contributed a high percentage of revenue income to Solomon Islands economy.

The industry’s contribution to Solomon Islands Government revenue on average is $260 million, of which 90% comes from fishing licenses.

When revealing the report at the World Tuna Day Celebration 2019 in Honiara, CBSI Statistical Analyst, Mr. Benjamin Kiriau said the report was based on istorical economic data for 2014 to 2018.

The report shows that tuna industry’s contribution to Gross Domestic Products (GDP) is on average five percent.

“Fish exports contribution to total exports is on average 11%.

“A positive correlation between the tuna and logging has depicted the significant contribution to the country’s total exports and overall economy in terms of foreign receipt earnings.

“Tuna production is mostly on average 30,467 metric tons,” Kiriau said.~

Regional cooperation vital for fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

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HONIARA The cooperative work between the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) member countries is vital in the fight against the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU), says the Deputy Director General Wez Norris.

Mr Norris says cooperation is one of the biggest determinants of sustainable fishing in the Pacific region.

He says, without cooperation none of the successes of operations against IUU fishing in the Pacific region would have been achieved.

“There is no other international cooperation in fisheries on this sort of scale that we’re aware of.

“Again, it comes down to a very long history of Pacific countries working together in cooperative fisheries management that really makes it work,” the deputy director general of the region’s biggest fisheries network says.

Wez Norris, FFA Deputy Director believes regional cooperation is the key to sustainable fishing in the Pacific

Norris explains two critical factors in the Pacific region leads to the small island developing states (SIDS) coming together to have such high impact operations against IUU.

Firstly, are the co-operative operations between SIDS, including the Tui Moana (covering the Polynesian countries), Rai Balang (the Micronesian states), Island Chief (Melanesian countries), and Operation Kurukuru, which covers the whole of the Pacific region.

Norris says this cooperation between SIDS would not work without each country freely and openly sharing its information with each other and with partner organisations, including the FFA..

The second critical factor in the fight against IUU is the support FFA receives from the quadrilateral surveillance providers: Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States.

“There is no other international cooperation in fisheries on this sort of scale that we’re aware of, “ Norris says.

“Again, it comes down to a very long history of these countries working together on fisheries management that really makes it work.

“The combination of having that open relationship amongst the countries then having a supportive role that the secretariat can play through the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre {RFSC) is critical”.

Phil Rowe who is the Surveillance Training and Liaison Officer at the RFSC also stresses the importance of cooperation.

Mr Rowe says, without the regional partners, they would not be able to combat IUU.

“Without our regional partners, we can’t conduct the operations and we won’t be out there looking for illegal fishing activity.

“So it’s vitally important that we get support from all those concerned,” Rowe says.

Discussions on Albacore splits Pacific Tuna Commission

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DENARAU, FIJI-– After a week of talks the Pacific Tuna Commission has failed to take any action to protect albacore – one of the four commercially important tuna species.
New data over the past couple of years, showing the stock is declining and is less economically sustainable than previously thought prompted Pacific nations including Solomon Islands to come together to form a new pact, known as the Tokelau arrangement to protect albacore.
Those countries, with the backing of the Forum Fisheries Agency made action on albacore a top priority but fishing nations, who benefit from the fishery were not interested.
The result was a split and disappointing discussions.
The Pacific nations had asked the Tuna Commission to take the first step in establishing a harvest strategy for albacore – the setting of an ideal level for stocks – known as a Target Reference Point (TRP).
Wez Norris, Deputy Director of the FFA said albacore is a species that the 12 nations of the Tokealau Arrangement were keen to see discussions progress but that they turned out to be “very disappointing”.
“It seems very clear that there’s no support from the commission as a whole to move towards this,” he told Pacific media
Mr Norris said China and Taiwan had particular areas of concern with what Solomon Isalnds and other Pacific nations were proposing.
We’re very frustrated about this,” he said.
When asked if there’s no resolution, and how the Tokelau Arrangement countries will react, Mr Norris said;
“Internally, it won’t change our priority which will continue to setting the appropriate limits for the Tokelau Arrangement Parties’ waters.
“And work on this catch management arrangement so they can start to exert more control on the fishery. But it’s really indicative of a hamstrung situation because there is a lot of catch and effort in the high seas that the coastal states don’t have the leverage over compared to say, the Purse Seine fishery”.
While Pacific countries set fishing rules in their own 200-miles exclusive economic zones in the high seas they rely on the Tuna Commission (WCPFC).
Mr Norris said Pacific countries really require the WCPFC to act.
“What it means is that we’re back to the drawing board in some respects in terms of finding better ways to engage with DWFNs that are fishing on the high seas to see how we can identify arrangements to work together,” he said
But beyond albacore the Pacific made more headway on its priorities.
Bigeye tuna has declined to below the point regarded as critical.
The Tuna Commission made the first step to help bigeye recover by deciding to work on a plan to have numbers back to their target reference point in the next ten years.–ENDS

Journalists can play important role on Observers safety- WWF

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By RONALD TOITO’ONA, Pacificmedia@WCPFC13

DENARAU, FIJI– Journalists in the Pacific can play an important role when it comes to the Safety of Fisheries Observers on board the foreign fishing fleets.
This is the view of leading Observer expert, Bubba Cook, , when asked about the current investigations of 5 Observers that went missing or pronounced dead in the Pacific seas over the past years.
Their cases were being dealt with by the responsible authority but the investigations are still pending, because details are sketchy, and information is sparse
“I think that there is a very important role for journalism to play in this regard to dig for the details in these stories, said Mr Cook, WWF’s program manager for Central and Western Pacific tuna
“Because, the details are not being reported to the commission and there are not being recorded, they are not being compiled,” he said.
Even key figures in the industry are not aware of how bad conditions can be on board tuna boats.

Cook said during last week’s WCPFC meeting in Nadi, an industry member who approached him was surprised to hear there were these five observers missing over six years.
“That is part of the problem this is not getting communicated to people as part of the process in this part of the region.
“And journalism can play a very important role in pushing for that information and getting that information available and getting those details out to the public,” Mr Cook added.
He said, this is an issue that needs to be dealt with due to its seriousness.
Three of the Observers are from Papua New Guinea, one from Fiji, and another from the United States of America (USA).
It was understood that, this year’s Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has the biggest coverage in the region, by journalists from around the Pacific.–ENDS