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.~

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.”

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”.

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.

Tonga gets $US10 million grant for fisheries management

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Photo: Francisco Blaha

Republished from Radio New Zealand, 19 April 2019

Tonga’s government says dozens of coastal communities will benefit from a new $US10 million grant towards fisheries management.

The World Bank on Thursday approved the funds, which are part of a sustainability project improving compliance and governance of commercial fishing.

Tonga’s fisheries minister, Semisi Fakahau, said improving the sustainability of the country’s fish stocks is vital to its economic prosperity.

The World Bank project will also improve fisheries monitoring and outcomes for women working in the pearl industry, he said.

Tonga is heavily dependent on its fisheries, with around 82 percent of Tongan families involved in reef fishing, according to government figures.

ISSF adds three to board of directors, says goodbye to Schumm

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Republished from Undercurrent News, 12 April 2019

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), a global coalition of scientists, the tuna industry and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has added three new names to its 11-member board of directors.

The new additions include Rohan Currey, a scientist at the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Prior to working for MSC, he was a principal scientist at New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, specializing in marine mammal science and Antarctic fisheries science. He also represented New Zealand in the International Whaling Commission and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Also joining is Martin Tsamenyi, a professor of law and the former director of the Australian National Center for Ocean Resources & Security at the University of Wollongong. Tsamenyi has served as fisheries law advisor to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency and legal counsel to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and was chairman of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

Additionally, ISSF’s board has added Giuseppe Di Carlo, director of the WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative, where he is responsible for supporting Mediterranean countries to achieve key conservation and management targets, specifically on fisheries and marine protected areas. Since 2008, Di Carlo has been involved in developing and implementing ecosystem-based based management into conservation strategies.

Alfred Schumm, the former director of the WWF Global Fisheries Program and now director of innovation, sciences, technologies and solutions at WWF, will be stepping down from the ISSF board after serving for more than eight years, the organization reports. 

Pacific island leaders satisfied with results of Hawaiian tuna meeting

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Republished from Undercurrent News, 8 April 2019

Pacific Islands fishery leaders are said to be content with the results of last weekend’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Hawaii, US, reports the Herdon Gazette.

Agreements have been made to maintain current tuna catch limits, minimum standards of labor for fishing crews, and increasing the involvement of small island states in the day-to-day business of the WCPFC. 

While the US had initially been planning a push to increase its tuna catch quotas, these were ultimately withdrawn, as the tropical tuna measure remains in place.

An additional two-month prohibition on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) by purse seiners on the high seas has been implemented, while limits on the use of FADs for three months from July 1 remain in place.

“FAD closures are an important conservation action that reduces catch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna,” Ludwig Kumoru, head of the parties to the Nauru agreement, told the Gazette.

“Maintaining the FAD closures is contributing to sustainably managing our tuna stocks.”

PNA credits fishery management for healthy tuna stocks

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Republished from Undercurrent News, 2 April 2019

The Western and Central Pacific tuna stocks are all in healthy condition, according to scientists with the Pacific Community (SPC) at the recently concluded Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) officials’ annual meeting in Palau.

“This is in part due to strong long-term management of the tuna fishery in PNA waters through the purse seine vessel day scheme (VDS),” said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. He pointed to fish aggregating device (FAD) closures, limits on fishing days, and other PNA conservation measures that have contributed to the overall sustainability of the tuna fishery.

“In comparison to tuna stocks in other oceans, the Pacific tuna stocks are doing well,” he said. Bigeye, yellowfin, albacore, and skipjack are all said to be in healthy condition in this region, according to the SPC stock assessment for 2017.

Over the past several years, PNA has maintained the same level of fishing days without increase and this has shown in relatively stable catch tonnage in both the purse seine and longline industries.

In addition to a “Status of Stocks” report from SPC, the annual officials meeting in Palau dealt with numerous management issues, ranging from an economic overview of the fishery and VDS administration, to updates on harvest control rules for skipjack fisheries and the fisheries information management system.

PNA officials discussed options for increased participation in the fishery and diversifying revenue streams through various initiatives, all of which are made possible by VDS management of the fishery, it said.

The Parties continued to discuss options for increasing the value of the VDS, including options for investing revenue. A presentation was provided by an investment fund manager active in the region during the meeting, which “continued the process of exposing PNA members to options for consideration”.