Pacific fishing nations strengthen rules to protect their tuna and economies

Categories @WCPFC15, Features, NewsPosted on

The WCFPC has toughened its stance on tuna fishing. It has extended fishing limits, expanded the official observer program, and made tougher rules against bycatch, including the compulsory use of non-entangling FADs.

Tougher rules to protect tuna stocks as well as boost struggling Pacific Island economies were the focus of Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) decisions at its recent annual policy-setting meeting.

The most important measures agreed to at the WCPFC15 meeting in Honolulu in December 2018 are:

  • setting a target reference point (TRP) for South Pacific albacore tuna, to balance the preservation of fish populations and economic needs 
  • extending to 2021 current limits on the catch of bigeye, yellowfin, and skipjack tuna, despite some pressure to ease restrictions
  • strengthening protection of Pacific bluefin tuna by tightening the rules for catches 
  • increasing the length of time fish-aggregating devices (FADs) are prohibited from use, and extending the area of ocean over which the ban applies
  • constraining FAD design and construction to prevent animals becoming entangled and to reduce plastic rubbish in the ocean
  • expanding the acceptable measures to reduce seabird bycatch, while also expanding the area in which the measures must be used
  • expanding the number of observers, human and electronic, and implementing online compliance reporting.

All current rules, known as conservation and management measures (CMMs), are summarised on SustainPacFish. They are listed on policy and rule pages for fish stocks, compliance, catch and harvestobservers and bycatch. WCFPC also lists all CMMs in full.

All FADS to prevent entanglement from 2020

It will be compulsory from the beginning of 2020 for FADs to be designed and built to prevent sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and other animals from accidentally being caught during fishing operations. They currently die in their tens of thousands each year. 

The rule applies to FADs to be deployed in or that will drift into the western and central Pacific Ocean. During discussion at WCPFC15, the European Union reported that it already used non-entangling FADs in other oceans, and that they had no impact on the amount of tuna caught. The WCPFC agreed that, to prevent animals becoming tangled up in FADs, fishing fleets should avoid using mesh if possible. However, if mesh is to be used:

  • the netting must be less than 7 cm when stretched, whether used on the raft or in the hanging “tail”
  • if the raft is covered, the mesh is to be wrapped securely so that animals cannot become enmeshed
  • any mesh used in a tail is to be tightly bundled and secured into “sausages” that are weighted so that the tail hangs straight down in the water column and remains taut.

It recommended a solid canvas sheet as a better option for the tail.

Biodegradable FADs recommended

The WCPFC flagged the introduction of biodegradable FADs, to reduce the amount of plastic rubbish in the ocean and that washes up on reefs and coastlines. The Scientific Committee (SC) and the Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC) are to present suitable designs by 2020. 

Parts of a FAD that has broken up have washed up on a beach in New Caledonia. Credit: A. Durbano, Association Hô-üt’, New Caledonia.
Parts of a FAD that has broken apart and washed up on a beach in New Caledonia. Credit: A. Durbano, Association Hô-üt’, New Caledonia.

FAD closure extended

The Commission also increased by two months a year the period in which FADs are banned from use in some areas. They were previously prohibited from 1 July to 30 September by purse seiners operating on the high seas and in exclusive economic zones (EEZs) between 20°N and 20°S. The ban is now extended for an extra two months on the high seas. 

The CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Mr Ludwig Kumoru, said: “FAD closures are an important conservation action that reduces catch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna.”

Protection zone extended to reduce seabird bycatch

Longline fishing vessels must use several approved measures to reduce the number of seabirds accidentally caught while fishing. 

The measures were already in place for the Pacific Ocean south of 30°S. From 1 January 2020, that area will be extended, with vessels fishing between 25°S and 30°S to also use approved measures, although the EEZs of Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Tonga are exempt. The measures allowed are detailed in CMM 2018-03 and summarised in policies and rules on Sustainpacfish.

Seabird bycatch mitigation measures

North of 23oN:

  • large longline vessels of 24m or longer to use at least 2 mitigation measures, including at least one from Column A
  • small longline vessels of less than 24m to use at least one measure from Column A.

Between 25oS and 23oN:

  • longline vessels are encouraged to use at least one of these measures, and preferably more.
Column AColumn B
Side setting with a bird curtain
and weighted branch lines
Tori line
Night setting with minimum deck
lighting
Blue-dyed bait
Tori lineDeep-setting line shooter
Weighted branch linesManagement of offal discharge
Hook-shielding devices

The commission also amended the rules to conserve and manage turtles, but failed to agree on new measures for sharks.

Interim target set for catch of South Pacific albacore tuna 

Pacific small island developing states cautiously hailed the adoption of limits to the catch of south Pacific albacore tuna. The limit, called a target reference point (TRP), tells fishing nations how many fish can be taken, based on the combined weight of all breeding-age individuals (called “spawning biomass”) of that species. 

While recent assessments have reported that albacore was not overfished, some Pacific Island nations said that catch rates were down, leaving island livelihoods in a “perilous” state

The WCPFC agreed on a limit of 56 per cent of spawning biomass. Although FFA argued for a limit of 60 per cent to support local economies, member states agreed the decision was workable. 

In light of negotiations for the TRP, which have been going on for years, FFA director general Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said of the decision: “This is a milestone for the management of the south Pacific albacore fishery.”

Catch rules clarified for Pacific bluefin tuna, and limits maintained for tropical tuna

The WCPFC clarified the catch rules for bluefin tuna so that, when a country exceeds its effort and catch limits in one year, the amount extra it has taken is deducted from the catch it is allowed the following year.

The Northern Committee of the WCPFC had argued for a catch-documentation scheme (CDS) to be applied to Pacific bluefin tuna to help bring populations of this depleted species back to sustainable levels. This will be developed as part of the conservation and management measure (CMM) on bluefin tuna. The goal of the CDS is to create a paper trail (physical or electronic) in fisheries to make it much more difficult to sell illegal, unreported or unregulated fish, since they wouldn’t have required documentation. 

Despite some pressure to relax catch limits for the main commercial tropical tuna species—bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack—the WCPFC extended current limits for another two years. These three species are worth more than US$4.4 billion a year

Reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Several decisions are intended to improve surveillance and compliance. By making reporting more transparent and thorough, the WCPFC expects to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which, worldwide, makes up almost a quarter of the value of the seafood industry.

PNA members and the FFA want illegal fishing to be eliminated by 2023. FFA director general Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said that the strategy to monitor and control fishing in the western and central Pacific was “to develop and deploy game-changing applications”.

Last year, the president of the Marshall Islands, Dr Hilda 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.” 

Strengthen the observer network and compliance

WCPFC members agreed on several measures to strengthen compliance.

More than 60 per cent of the tuna caught in the western and central Pacific comes from the eight nations that make up the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). The CEO of the PNA, Mr Ludwig Kumoru, said: “Our requirement of 100 per cent fisheries observer coverage on purse seiners and other measures is a big deterrent to illegal fishing.” 

Another measure is to expand the requirements for unique identification numbers for ships, and authorisation to fish expanded to include all fishing vessels with inboard motors and 12 metres or longer.

All purse-seine fleets are to carry an official observer, who will collect data on catches, and composition of catch (species, size and age of fish, and bycatch), transhipment, and FAD closures. Small island developing states (SIDS) are now required to cooperate by sharing information collected by the observers.

The Commission also expanded the compliance monitoring scheme (CMS), with some reporting information to be made publicly available online, and searchable. Flagging of alleged violations has also been formalised, with deadlines given for countries to address violation notices.

Calls to make work safe for fishing crews and observers

The expanded role of observers came as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) demanded better conditions for observers on ships, following ongoing disappearances of observers at sea.

WCPFC members adopted resolutions to improve working conditions and safety for fishing crews.

At the meeting, the Commission agreed to:

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.~

Call to end slavery at sea

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Improved conditions for crew working on tuna fishing vessels in the Pacific is a key outcome of the Forum Fisheries Committee meeting this week

POHNPEI, 10 May 2019 – The annual Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) Officials meeting concluded today with a headline decision to strengthen the regional minimum requirements for fishing licenses by adding crew employment conditions.

The outcome has already been hailed as “ground-breaking” by the 17 members as well as by international NGOs present at the meeting.

Speaking from the meeting the Director-General of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Dr Manu-Tupou-Roosen noted that the decision of members would now require embedding in national procedures.

“The fishing vessel operator will now become formally responsible for the health, welfare and safety of the crew while he or she is on board the vessel, and will be required to meet decent standards in respect of salary and conditions for all crew,” observed Dr Tupou-Roosen.

“This is a giant step forward in helping to ensure that the ‘slavery at sea’ identified in other global fisheries does not blight the Pacific region. It will help ensure that basic human rights are protected for those working in our offshore tuna fishery.”

The Chairman of the meeting, Executive Director of Federated States of Micronesia’s National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA), Eugene Pangelinan observed that “while the region’s regional offshore tuna fisheries are already the most sustainably managed in the world, we now expect all operators in the fishery to treat crew members in a way that reflects the values and expectations of our combined membership.” 

Executive Director Pangelinan also noted that by setting these standards more Pacific Island nationals will be motivated to become crew on fishing vessels thus meeting an objective to improve local employment in the Industry.

“This is a goal our leaders have set us and we are proud to be taking this work forward.”

Participants at the meeting have noted heightened concerns over conditions in high seas fisheries, especially on foreign longline vessels which often require crew to stay at sea for up to a year with poor pay and conditions and harsh penalties for dissent.

Meeting in Pohnpei, the 17 member countries of the FFA also agreed:

  • A final draft FFA Strategic Plan 2020-2025 for forwarding to Ministers for their endorsement when they meet next month
  • Strengthened work on assessing the impacts of climate change on offshore fisheries
  • A new Regional Longline Strategy to underpin stronger returns to island countries
  • Enhanced measures to eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing
  • Priorities for FFA members to take forward in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

This week was also a time of reflection for NORMA and FFA who both celebrate 40 years of operation.

“I cannot stress enough that although much has been achieved in 40 years, there is still much to do particularly with emerging issues and challenges such as climate change. We work to ensure our people enjoy social and economic benefits from a sustainably managed offshore tuna resource and this wouldn’t be possible without key partnerships,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

“I want to particularly thank NORMA for hosting us this year. But also I want to thank our members for their continued trust in us. Cooperation, is without a doubt what has brought us this far and it will be how we advance for the next 40 or more years.”

Coincidently, the fisheries meeting concludes on the 40th anniversary of the FSM becoming a self-governing nation.

##ENDS##

For more information and photos contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, +691 920 5332 donna.hoerder@ffa.int

Richard Clark, FSM Public Information Office, +691-920-1612richard.clark@gov.fm

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. www.ffa.int

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#Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #FFA40yrs #FFA40th

About National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA)

The Government of Federated States of Micronesia, National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) manages oceanic resources and in particular tuna resources, within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Federated States of Micronesia.www.norma.fm

Palau targets tuna for food security

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Palau’s president is calling for more domestic consumption of tuna. Tuna caught in Palau being offloaded. (Photo: Richard Brooks)

Palau is highlighting the importance of tuna to local food security and to help keep the pressure off its coastal fisheries.

On May 1, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. signed a presidential directive calling for a “national commitment to reduce pressure on the reef, promote locally produced foods, prioritise human wellness and healthful nutrition”.

This is to be done by supporting a local pelagic fishery by serving pelagic fish like tuna at all government food service systems and at government and quasi-government events and functions.

In this tiny Pacific nation, where non-communicable diseases are high and gravely impact the health of the people, Remengesau said there is a need to enable the domestic market to increase local access to fish to improve nutrition.

The president said Palau is experiencing high rates of obesity (46.2%), overweight (30.8%), raised total cholesterol (25.8%), diabetes (20.4%), and other non-communicable diseases because of the preference to  consume imported meats and canned foods that are “cheap and nutritionally poor.”

He said tuna will help fill in the gap for a need to go back to traditional foods such as root crops and fish.

Reef fish in Palau is on the brink of being overfished and since studies have shown that tuna and tuna-like pelagic fish species are more resilient to fishing pressure due to their higher productivity and more extensive stocks, his government will set an example by choosing pelagics.

“Tuna means livelihood, economic security for Palau. We want to eat high-grade tuna and not rejects,” Remengesau said. 

Palau is sustaining key tuna species by closing almost 500,000 square kilometres of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to commercial fishing while increasing the amount of tuna allocated to consumption on the island.

Twenty percent of the EEZ is designated as a domestic fishing zone. Remengesau said Palau do not want to be left with tuna of lesser value but consume fish of higher-grade value.

The directive supports the local organisation, Palau Conservation Society’s (PCS) program ‘Choose Pelagics,’ which the president said is “a collaborative and cross-sectoral effort aimed at creating incentives to promote the development of a sustainable domestic pelagic fishery.”

Fabio Siksei, Program Coordinator of the PCS’ conservation and protected areas program said that based on their monitoring, restaurants in Palau mostly serve reef fish

“We try to create a market shift, try to shift that to pelagic,” Siksei said in an interview.

The program along with the Bureau of Marine Resources ongoing nationwide program for anchored fishing aggregating device (FADs) is supporting the artisan fisheries and addressing challenges faced by small scale fishermen.

“Palau continues to work with its local, regional, and international partners to develop alternative pelagic fisheries to support fishing livelihoods and food security through the expansion of a nationwide anchored FADs Network to help improve the feasibility of small-scale pelagic fishing,” Remengesau stated.

Last year, a study conducted by Nippon Foundation-UBC Nereus Program already brought to light the pressure that reefs are already experiencing. The study suggested that Palauans and tourists should eat fewer reef fish and recommended a policy that would  require reductions in fish consumption by both resident Palauans and visitors.

The study suggested that there should be a shift from “seafood consumption to open water fish, such as sustainably-harvested tuna, instead of reef fishes such as grouper, snapper, and parrotfish.”

Climate change the most critical issue facing Pacific fisheries

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FFA members are seeking to advance a new regional longline strategy a this week’s Forum Fisheries Committee meeting (Photo: Francisco Blaha, Note: Photo serves an illustrative purpose and was not taken in the context of IUU fishing)

POHNPEI, 4 May 2019 — “The sustainable management of our offshore tuna resources must deliver stronger economic and social benefits to our island communities.” 

This is the key message from Forum Fisheries Agency Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen as regional fisheries officials meet in Pohnpei for the Forum Fisheries Committee this week.

“Our offshore tuna fisheries in the Pacific are among the most sustainably managed of all global fisheries. The fisheries deliverhigh value to our Island Countries through zone-based management based on clear definition of the rights of FFA members to fisheries resources within our EEZs and on the high seas.” 

Dr Tupou-Roosen noted that Pacific leaders have identified climate change as the most critical issue facing the region.

“This is a complex issue and we need to identify targeted actions within the context of our tuna fisheries work, including through more effective collaboration with our regional partners and at the international level. “

Dr Tupou-Roosen anticipates that that FFA Members will seek to advance the core elements of a new Regional Longline Strategy.

This comes on the back of rising concerns that some longline fleets are avoiding licensing conditions by fishing and transshipping catch only on the high-seas with little monitoring of catch and effort and no effective contribution to island revenues.

“We need collectively to create the conditions for enhanced member benefits and member participation in the longline fishery, noting that differing components of the Strategy will reflect the diversity of membership interests” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

A further priority will be to agree priorities to enhance advocacy in the lead-up to the year-end Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting in Port Moresby in December.  Advancing the FFA’s steady push towards the implementation of a harvest strategy approach to fisheries management will feature heavily in these discussions.

“In celebrating our 40th year of operation we still face some big challenges” said Dr Tupou-Roosen “but we retain a strong commitment to meeting these through the strength of our commitment to regional cooperation in the offshore fisheries sector.”

##ENDS##

For more information and photos contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, +691 920 5332  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. www.ffa.int

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#Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #FFA40yrs #FFA40th

ADB launches USD$5 billion action plan to protect oceans

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The Pacific Ocean will benefit from the ADB Plan to protect oceans (Photo: Fransisco Blaha)

Nadi- The Asian Development Bank on May 2 launched a USD$5 billion dollar action plan aimed at protecting the ocean, which includes efforts for an inclusive livelihood sustainable business opportunities in the fisheries industry.

The Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies, announced during the annual meeting of its board of governors, expands financing and technical assistance for ocean health and marine economy projects to $5 billion from 2019 to 2024.

The action plan is also aimed at protecting and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems and key rivers; reducing land-based sources of marine pollution, including plastics, wastewater, and agricultural runoff; and improving sustainability in port and coastal infrastructure development.

ADB President Takehiko Nakao highlighted the importance of protecting marine ecosystems.  

“Healthy oceans are essential to our planet and for the millions of people in Asia and the Pacific, especially those who depend on oceans for their food and livelihoods,” Nakao said during the opening session of the board of governors meeting, May 3   

He said the oceans are in danger from increasing water temperatures, untreated wastewater and plastic pollution, and unsustainable fishing practices.

Nakao fears that if no action is taken against the damages in the ocean, by 2050, 90% of “the region’s coral reefs will be dead, and there will be no commercially exploitable wild fish stocks left.”

The action plan will also boost the blue economy, which provides USD 3.3 billion to the national economies of Pacific countries and territories.  

In line with the action plan, the organisation will launch the Oceans Financing Initiatives that will give opportunities for the private sector to invest in projects that will help improve ocean health.

The initiative will provide technical assistance grants and funding from ADB and other donors to reduce the technical and financial risks of projects. This will be done through instruments such as credit risk guarantees and capital market “blue bonds”.

World Tuna Day: A reminder of a rich resource and the need to protect it

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(Photo: Francisco Blaha)

Joint media release, FFA & NORMA

POHNPEI, 2 May 2019 – The Western and Central Pacific Ocean holds the world’s largest tuna fishery with a total catch of more than 2.5 million tons a year. The target species (albacore, skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin) are being managed at sustainable levels and there is no over fishing occurring for these stocks.  This is in stark contrast to all other oceans.

(See fact sheet on www.sustainpacfish.net summarising the status of Pacific tuna)

“On World Tuna Day we are reminded of the need to maximise the economic and social benefits from tuna for our people, our communities and our Pacific region. We are also reminded of the critical importance of protecting this rich resource,” said FFA Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen.

“But we can’t achieve this unless we continue to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and use our world leading frameworks for cooperation such as the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA).”

The Niue Treaty is an agreement on cooperation between FFA members about monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing – it includes provisions on exchange of information (about where the position and speed of vessels at sea, which vessels are without licences) plus procedures for cooperation in monitoring, prosecuting and penalising illegal fishing vessels.

While chairing the NTSA session at the 110th Forum Fisheries Committee officials meeting, National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) Executive Director, Eugene Pangelinan reminded delegates that “The NTSA provides members with a legally binding framework to work together to enhance monitoring, control and surveillance activities and ensure sustainability of our tuna resources in order to combat IUU fishing.”

He added that “One way to ensure we have maximum economic returns whilst achieving sustainability of the resource is by sharing information and resources as and when required, to help keep IUU fishing out of the Pacific neighbourhood and that is done through agreements like the NTSA.”

Two years ago the United Nations mandated World Tuna Day in recognition of the need to raise awareness about the importance of tuna and to promote more sustainable fishing practices.  

The FFA is the cornerstone for cooperation between Pacific Island countries in the management of their shared tuna resources.  The FFA Secretariat also provides support to its members with monitoring, control and surveillance activities through national capacity building and regional initiatives.FFA members are leading the way in eliminating IUU fishing through the Regional Aerial Surveillance Program, Regional Observer Program, Vessel Monitoring Scheme, Information and technology services, and working with member countries on innovative new tools such as the Persons of Interest Strategy. 

FFA staff currently attending the 110th Forum Fisheries Committee officials meeting in Pohnpei are joining World Tuna Day celebrations in a fishing tournament organised by NORMA. A celebration to also acknowledge 40 years of existence for two Pacific fisheries organisations – FFA and NORMA.

##ENDS##

For more information and photos contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, +691 920 5332  donna.hoerder@ffa.int

Richard Clark, FSM Public Information Office, + +691-920-1612 richard.clark@gov.fm

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. www.ffa.int

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About National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA)

The Government of Federated States of Micronesia, National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) manages oceanic resources and in particular tuna resources, within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Federated States of Micronesia. www.norma.fm

Palau preparation to host 2020 Our Ocean Conference underway

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Credit: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Palau’s preparation to host the 2020 edition of the Our Oceans conference is underway. The conference will be a gathering of leaders to commit to actions related to sustainable fisheries marine protected areas, climate change, marine pollution, sustainable blue economy, and maritime security.

In hosting next year’s conference, the Republic of Palau will serve as the venue where experts, stakeholders, innovators, and entrepreneurs share the stage with global leaders in ocean conservation.

Palau President, Tommy Remengesau Jr. said in his State of the Republic Address (SORA) on April 25 that the hosting of 7th Our Ocean Conference on August 2020, “will be one of the largest events held in the region attracting high level government officials to major corporations and civil service organizations from around the world.”

Once the Palau National Marine Sanctuary law takes effect, commercial fishing on over 500,000 square kilometers or 80 percent of its maritime waters will be prohibited.

The remaining 20 percent of Palau’s seas will be reserved for domestic fishing.      

Rememegsau said that at the last conference held in Bali, Indonesia there were 305 tangible and measurable commitments amounting to USD$10.7 billion and comprising of 14 million square kilometres of Marine Protected Areas around the globe.

To help Palau host the event, over 900 commitments have been pledged by governments, NGOs, corporations, United Nations entities, academia, the scientific community, philanthropic organisations, individuals, and many others to address the plight of the world’s oceans. Together, they represent more than $28 billion in funding, technical and in-kind contributions, according to a briefing by the Our Oceans Committee in Palau to the members of Congress and the Executive Branch.

In a statement, the committee said, funding commitments have been from allied partners for the necessary infrastructure for the conference.

“The Our Ocean 2020 Conference will convene leaders from major countries and organisations who are global ocean champions to discuss and take action on issues and solutions…,” the Committee said in its update presentation.

Remengesau said Our Ocean Conference 2020 will focus on actions and results of prior commitments to protect the oceans.

He said that it is events “such as these with the aim of showcasing how such commitments have been translated into actions, that improve and enhance the lives of people in their respective countries.”

Pohnpei hosts symposium on technology for tuna transparency

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A Group photo of the T-3 Challenge Electronic Monitoring Symposium participants and attendees in Pohnpei. Photo: FSMIS

Repblished from Marianas Variety, 25 April 2019

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — In response to Peter M. Christian, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, calling for complete transparency in FSM’s commercial tuna fisheries by 2023, from April 10 to 12, the Technology for Tuna Transparency or T-3 Challenge Electronic Monitoring Symposium was held at PMA Studio in Pohnpei State.

Sponsored by the FSM National Government through the National Oceanic Management Resource Authority, and by The Nature Conservancy, the Forum Fisheries Agency, and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, the symposium explored how electronic monitoring or EM fits into control and surveillance to support sustainable fisheries, how EM is presently being used in the Western and Central Pacific, EM in the seafood supply chain, how to scale EM for increased use in the FSM and the Pacific, and moving forward with a regional vision for tuna transparency through EM.

Marcelo Peterson, governor of Pohnpei State, provided the welcoming remarks. “If over 50 percent of the global tuna supply comes from our part of the world, then we must do everything it takes to ensure its sustainable management through the use of new technologies such as EM. EM will help assure us the long-term sustainability of these resources.”

National Oceanic Management Resource Authority Executive Director Eugene Pangelinan provided the introductory remarks. He noted that in attendance were ambassadors and ministers of sovereign nations, such as George Fraser of Australia and Alexis Maino of Papua New Guinea, and Dennis Momotaro, minister of resources and development for the the Marshall Islands, representatives of key local and regional partners such as the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and regional stakeholders such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji Fisheries, the Australia Fisheries Management Authority, and global partners such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Fishing Watch, and many more.

He said: “How often do we get all interested parties in the same room on the same platform with equal opportunity to speak freely?… Let us start the conversation of regionally aligning all the moving parts…to talk about EM…. My wish is that at the close of this symposium we’ll all be more informed and inspired to…implement EM programs.”

Marion Henry, secretary of the Department of Resources & Development, spoke on behalf of FSM President Christian to provide the keynote address. “You have traveled from afar to be here today, which is a solid testimony of your commitment to address this growing problem within our midst…. I urge full and frank discussions and sharing of information on the use of EM to assist in our continuing fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and transnational crimes being committed in our backyards…. I believe that our countries, as resource custodians, must follow the trend by also utilizing EM for our own purposes and our own advantages…. Past our recognized borders, we collectively carry the responsibility for effective stewardship of this important resource for the sake of posterity and humankind.”

Alexis Maino, roving ambassador of PNG to the FSM, provided additional remarks. “The challenges of monitoring and controlling our vast maritime territories are many.… Today, we embrace the move towards a far more advanced stage of electronic monitoring systems which we hope will result in promoting elements of transparency for sustainable fisheries management. PNG welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively with other Pacific Island countries, including members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement at all levels to develop and implement electronic monitoring capabilities across the entire region.”

Participants attending the EM symposium enjoyed a variety of frank and open conversations, with sessions primarily comprised of panel discussions.

EM, at its core, is about putting video cameras on fishing vessels — and, in conjunction with machine learning and artificial intelligence, with assistance from on-the-boat work from observers and data analysis, greatly improves transparency, data quality, and decision-making with regards to a given fishery’s operation. To emphasize the need for EM, it was advised during the symposium that 90 percent of global fisheries don’t have the basic data they need to become sustainable — either environmentally, or economically; EM helps to provide the data necessary to make these fisheries sustainable. EM has shown in Australia, for example, a 25 percent increase in retained catch relative to dependent and independent reporting.