The Marshall Islands and Thailand establish cooperation and exchange of information to prevent IUU fishing practices

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Republished from Francisco Blaha’s Blog FEBRUARY 23, 2019

I have been at the 6th Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW) here in Bangkok since the 18 Feb. As we ( the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority MIMRA) have been invited to present what we are doing in terms of our Port State Measures (PSM) system to authorise transhipments.

I say “we” because there are 4 of us; Sam Lawni (Deputy Director), Laurence Edwards (Legal Counsel) and Beau Bigler (Fishery Officer) and myself as an Offshore Fisheries Advisor. I was quite keen for all of us to come to this GFETW as conference only happens every two or three years. It was organised by the International Fisheries Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) Network to improve and enhance the capacity and communications of MCS practitioners around the world. The fact that we are in Bangkok made it more special.

While a lot of effort has been focused on the control of transhipments at sea, transhipments from fishing vessels to refrigerated carriers in port are a vital element in the Pacific tuna fishery and a daily occurrence for us. Thailand is the biggest tuna processing country in the world, and I’d say that half of the transhipments we authorise in Majuro will be arriving here to be processed; we call it the “tuna highway”.

From the “transhipment port” perspective, PSM best practices require the port to take a series of steps prior to authorising port use for transhipment, including: a standardised and integrated process of advance notice and arrival fishing vessel intelligence-based risk analysis using available remote sensing capacities, a transhipment authorization protocol, the estimation of volumes transhipped, and the departure clearance of the carriers with full traceability of fish on board and hatch plan totals.

From the receiving port perspective, as is the case in Bangkok, it must be considered that the fish on board the carriers have “not been previously landed”. Thailand’s Department of Fisheries (DoF) under the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) principles has to evaluate compliance on the legality of the catches of each of the fishing vessels being transported on the carrier, plus the volumes on departure from the last transhipment port. This is to assess the possibility that the carrier would have received fish on board since the last declared port departure. As in many other cases worldwide, the processing states do not have access to all the compliance tools used by the flag states of the fishing vessels, and perhaps most importantly the coastal states where those catches were taken. Having a direct link of collaboration with the regional port states where those vessels transhipped initially facilitate the fulfilment of their obligations under PSMA.

On the other side, only on receiving the fish at the processing plants in Thailand are the verified weights per species per vessels known. Before this, volumes and species composition are based on estimates from the logsheets and observers/monitors estimations. In fact, a 2017 FFA study on the quantification of IUU for the region identified underreporting of catches as the region’s biggest threat in terms of IUU. Yet Thailand’s DoF as part of their e-Traceability program collects all the “weigh in” values of the fish originating on each fishing vessels inside every arriving carrier. This verified information available in Thailand is vital to further understanding the magnitude of the underreporting problem in the Pacific.

6th Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW), Bangkok. Image: Francisco Blaha

Based on the understanding of this reality, the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA), as the fisheries body of the most important transhipment port in the Pacific (>400 a year), approached Thailand’s Department of Fisheries to establish an MoU for cooperation and exchange of information of common interest and mutual benefit.

The MoU, signed on 22 February, is the result of over a year-long engagement I have been fostering between these 2 countries I work substantially with. Both sides identified that reciprocal exchange of fisheries data was an area of critical importance that would require mutual collaboration between key players. In this case, the Marshall Islands (Majuro) being arguably the busiest transhipment port in the world and Thailand (Bangkok) as the largest tuna processing and port State.

With the signing of the MoU, the Marshall Islands, through MIMRA, will now be able to receive verified weights of tuna catches that are transshipped in Majuro and offloaded in Bangkok from Thai fisheries inspection officers on a regular basis.

In essence, this will enable officers on both sides to trace the catch both ways to ensure its legality throughout the entire chain of custody, thereby preventing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices. This verified information is vital to further understand the magnitude of the catch underreporting problem in the region.

The MoU is in line with the Marshall Islands IUU-Free Pacific initiative as declared by H.E. Madam President Dr. Hilda C. Heine last year. Having this direct link of collaboration with a key player like Thailand further facilitates the fulfilment of obligations under the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), which the Marshall Islands, through MIMRA, is currently considering signing and ratifying in the near future.

At a personal level it has been a huge 10 days as I facilitated a workshop for PEW and WWF full of people I admire, then presented at global fisheries MCS workshop on what are we doing in the Marshall Islands , and realise that I’m a consultant to both the gold (Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency) and silver (ThaiDoF/OceanMind) winners of the stop IUU awards! and then facilitating the Marshalls-Thailand MoU.

Palau Senate wants to delay marine sanctuary implementation

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Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. is not shutting down the request from the Japanese government to allow small scale fishermen from Okinawa to fish in Palau’s waters even after the implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) beyond 2020.

However, Remengesau said fishing should occur in the Domestic Fishing Zone which encompasses 85,896 square miles of the country’s  Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with 80 percent of the EEZ a “no-take zone.”

“We are not going to compromise the integrity of the PNMS,” He said.  “We are however mindful of the 20 per cent domestic fishing zone, which is a big area.”

Japan is one of Palau’s closest ally with  millions of aid provided to the country to build roads,  infrastructure and  recently a new patrol boat to help police Palau’s EEZ.

Japan has also  pledged support for Palau’s hosting of the Our Oceans Conference in 2020.

Under the PNMS law, a dedicated 20 per cent of the EEZ will be accessible to domestic fishing fleets. But the domestic fishing zone will be reserved for local fishermen and will prohibit exports. The law also required that any fish caught in the domestic fishing zone should be offloaded in Palau. 

Currently, the fishermen from Okinawa conduct fishing outside the 20 per cent Domestic Fishing Zone. 

However, Remengesau is keen to accommodate the fishermen alluding to the possibility of amendments to the PNMS law specifically about the provision that requires that all catches should be offloaded in Palau.  

“It’s about the livelihood of their people, its not a commercial operation; the question is can we do a win win situation? I think we can,” he told reporters. Japan also has the backing of the Senate which recently passed a joint resolution supporting  the wishes of the small-scale fishermen . 

(Photo: Richard W. Brooks)

Senate Joint Resolution 10-45 supports the Government of Japan’s request to allow vessels to continue its commercial fishing operation.

The Senate Committee on Resources, Commerce, Trade and Development stated in its report that Japan has assisted Palau in various infrastructure development and capacity building and that it should “reciprocate” by allowing some “fishing rights.” 

There is also a move from the Palau Senate to  delay Remengesau’s signature policy.   Sen. Frank Kyota, chair of the Senate Committee said  in an interview that his panel and several other senators will endorse the bill that seeks a delay of the PNMS implementation to 2025 instead of 2020

Kyota said extending the wind-down period would allow the country to recover from the tourism slump and increase revenues from the Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee (PPEF).  The fee is collected from visitors to Palau. 

A portion of the fee would go to the PNMS fund to support the implementation of the law.

But despite the tourism slowdown, Remengesau said it would hardly affect revenues it collects from foreign fishing licenses.

Remengesau said revenues that will be earned from the PPEF and the benefits to Palau from the Parties of Nauru Agreement’s (PNA) Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) are bigger than the income it could earn from licensing of commercial fishing in Palau.

“So it’s not so much an emergency impact if there will be no fishing because the money we receive from licensing  is a small amount compared to what we get from PPEF and also from what we receive from PNA,” Remengesau told reporters at apress conference .  

Based on the Ministry of Finance Financial report for the fourth quarter of 2018, Palau earned $8.4 million from fishing days under the PNA’s VDS while it earned only $767,417 from fish exports. Revenues collected from PPEF amounted to  $1,034,775.

 Enacted in October 2015, the law set aside 500,000 square kilometers or 80 per cent of its maritime waters for full protection with the rest set aside as domestic fishing zone.

With less than a year before it is implemented, the President vowed to reject  any attempt to delay the policy. 

However, Kyota said the Senate wants to pass the bill to generate discussions on how the tourism numbers will impact the PNMS funding mechanism.

Kyota said the Senate is not  “destroying the PNMS,”  with their push to delay the implementation but extending the wind-down period to give Palau time to recover from the tourism slump.

He noted that although he expects that the President will reject the bill, the Senate wants to be on record that it has tried to save the PNMS from losing revenues due to the tourism slowdown.

In a January 11 letter to the Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism Minister, Umiich Sengebau, Kyota’s committee raised concerns that revenues from the VDS will decrease as well when the PNMS is fully implemented.

 The committee said “since our economic frailty is an urgent matter,” the Senate needs to act on the proposed bill expeditiously.

 Sengebau in response to the committee’s concerns said there are locally-based fishing companies that are looking into the options of maintaining operations beyond the full implementation of the PNMS, such as fishing outside of Palau’s waters or at the high seas and offloading their catch here. 

The Minister also clarified that Palau can continue to earn money from the VDS through directly selling its vessel days directly to companies and any surplus days can be traded to another PNA member country.

The VDS sets an overall Total Allowable Effort (TAE) limit on the number of days fishing vessels can be licensed to fish in PNA Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) per year. Each country is allocated a share of the TAE for use in its zone each year.

These VDS days can be traded between countries in cases where a country has used up all its days while another has spare days.

The minimum benchmark for a vessel day fee for purse seiners is at $8,000.  

Safety of Pacific fisheries observers must be improved – PNA

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Republished from Radio New Zealand, 1 February 2019

The head of the Parties to Nauru Agreement says the safety of Pacific fisheries observers working on foreign vessels must be improved.

Fisheries observers monitor tuna catches onboard purse seiners as well as in-port trans-shipment, which provides important data for fisheries managers. Credit: Hilary Hosia

Over the past year a number of observers have been lost at sea and Ludwig Kumoru said more needed to be done to keep them safe.

Mr Kumoru said industry leaders agreed at a recent meeting to look at protecting observers and crews better.

“For the PNA, we have lost a couple of observers – PNG, Kiribati. One thing that we have done now under FFA is to push this thing for observer safe – what is the responsibility of the fishing boats when it comes to the welfare of the observer.

“When they are on the boat or when they get off – the countries. What is their responsibility to the observer? How are they going to be paid if something goes wrong with these observers.”

Last year East Sepik Governor Allan Bird told the Papua New Guinea Parliament that 18 local observers had disappeared at sea without a trace.

He called on the government to look into the cases because the men’s families deserved to know what happened to their loved ones.

FSM to review tuna fishing access concession practices

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Republished from Marianas Variety, 31 January 2019

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — During a recent cabinet meeting in Palikir, President Peter M. Christian ordered an official review of current FSM tuna fishing policy and practices, as a component of ongoing internal tuna fisheries development policy review.

He expressed particular concern that concessions may have been granted without tangible proof of full performance by the concession grantee of agreed business investments and the delivery of benefits to the FSM and its people. Officials were instructed to ensure a proper and fair balance between maximizing revenues from licensing foreign fishing boats and promoting greater national participation in on-shore services and investment.

President Christian was explicit: the FSM government must not grant concessions until fishing investors and operators can demonstrate genuine on-shore business investments and tangible results that show an overall net gain to FSM’s economy and the well-being of its people and communities.

He called for more robust enforcement of concession trade-offs to be established by 2020.

“Genuine investors and partners should have no fear about a tightening up of FSM policies and practices,” President Christian said. “They will understand that delivering genuine and equitable two-way benefits provide the best assurance of long-term business viability and the sustainability of the tuna resource.” 

While the first 12 nautical miles from land is considered territorial waters — i.e., the surface water and everything below is officially part of the country it’s near — an Exclusive Economic Zone is the sea zone stretching 200 nautical miles from the coast. While the surface water is considered international (i.e. ships can travel through it) everything below the water, including its fish, is for that country’s use. The value of tuna fishing access in the FSM’s EEZ has grown steadily since 2007, resulting from the implementation of the Vessel Day Scheme by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement  and the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission fishing effort restrictions. The FSM is poised to benefit significantly from restructuring and transforming its tuna fishery from foreign-based fishing operations to domestically-based fisheries.

The FSM, like most other Pacific Island Countries, has granted fishing fee concessions, or discounts, to fishing companies that are nationally owned or based in the FSM. Since 1987 the FSM has provided incentives to help offset initial high establishment costs that companies might face in order to invest in or transfer their operations to FSM. This concession policy was based on the understanding that those investments and activities would generate clear and tangible socio-economic benefits to the FSM economy and community, within an agreed timeframe, that would offset the fishing access revenues given up by the government when it grants the concessions.

The FSM’s fishing industry has grown from just two fishing companies with five purse seiners to 23 purse seiners in 2019. The growth is primarily attributed to the practice of granting concessionary VDS rates for domestic-basing that creates jobs for FSM citizens and enables the FSM’s full participation in the fishery and its development. FSM’s goal is to maximize the contribution of the fishery industry toward socio-economic development of the FSM and maximizing benefits to the resource owners (the people of the FSM). With larger values at stake in the fishery, the FSM government is reviewing and tightening up its investment and fishing access concession policies to ensure that they achieve the level of benefits that they seek within its national development aspirations.

FSM government officials emphasize the importance of full compliance by fishing concession holders to prove, as much as possible, the level of benefits they had promised to deliver in return for the concessions they have received.

The National Oceanic Resource Management Authority, its Executive Director Eugene Pangelinan said, “will implement robust monitoring of concessions to inform annual FSM VDS allocations to its fishing industry as called for by the president.”

FSM government, fisheries sector learn about biodegradable fish aggregation devices

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Republished from Marianas Variety, 30 January 2019

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — The Federated States of Micronesia, relies heavily on fish for cultural, nutritional, and economical reasons.

While the FSM has taken the lead in many areas when it comes to simultaneously maximizing revenue, protecting the environment, and ensuring the sustainability of our fish populations — such as the Technology for Tuna Transparency or T-3 Challenge initiated by FSM President Peter M. Christian at the fifth Our Oceans Conference in October 2018 — there’s still much our country can do to improve.

It was with this in mind that, on Jan. 23 2019, representatives of the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority, Pohnpei State’s Department of Public Safety’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, National Fisheries Corporation, Caroline Fisheries Corporation, Diving Seagull, and Dongwon Industries, attended an International Seafood Sustainability Foundation  workshop on biodegradable fish aggregation devices or FADs.

The workshop’s goals included educating the fishing sector on new regulations from the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission on FADs, producing buy-in on how the sector can use biodegradable FADs, and scientific projects in our part of the Pacific.

National Oceanic Resource Management Authority, Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, private fisheries, and International Seafood Sustainability Foundation representatives pose for a group photo. Credit: FSMIS

Citizens unfamiliar with FADs (Micronesians frequently call them “payao”) may appreciate the definition from ISSF: FADs are “man-made floating objects specifically designed to encourage fish aggregation at the device. They can be anchored to the ocean floor or set to drift in the open ocean.”

Aggregation means putting together, so a FAD essentially attracts lots of fish together.

Historically FADs are useful insofar as they can gather lots of fish together in one place, but in recent decades FADs have been made of synthetic materials (like nylon) and they have relatively negative publicity from being associated with problems such as bycatch (i.e. when you’re looking for tuna but you accidentally get sharks and turtles instead), reef damage, and overfishing.

The discussions in the morning focused on the history of FADs and their relationship with countries and fisheries, including in the FSM.

Standout observations included multiple local fisheries advising that approximately 80 percent of their FADs are variously lost, stolen, or drift beyond the legal boundaries of their fishing area —and worldwide approximately 10 percent of all ocean pollution is from lost fishing gear, and 640,000 tons of fishing gear end up in the sea every year (including FADs).

FSM citizens will recall that the aforementioned T-3 Challenge that NORMA and The Nature Conservancy are implementing intends to use electronic monitoring to quash the overfishing problem, and in conjunction with fishing fleets using biodegradable FADs ideally ocean pollution and bycatch issues from entanglement (i.e. when a fish gets stuck in a net) will become less pronounced.

Matthew Chigiyal, assistant director of NORMA, advised that “It’s…in your interest that there is some authority to see what is happening with your FAD…register your FAD per NORMA’s requirement.”

ISSF has been conducting numerous experiments in the past several years in countries such as Ghana (in Western Africa) and the Maldives (an island nation in the Indian Ocean) with biodegradable FADs, and has determined that natural materials like raw twisted cotton perform similarly to contemporary synthetic materials like nylon. (Banana fiber is also potentially useful, though there isn’t presently the industrialization necessary to support its use in large-scale development of FADs).

By the end of the discussions in the afternoon, NORMA, the local fishing companies, and ISSF were discussing what a long-term scientific project in the Western Pacific might look like.

The countries in the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, where more than 90 percent of purse seine fishing occurs, are developing a biodegradable and non-entangling program to reduce the adverse impacts of non-biodegradable materials, as well as the destruction, loss, or abandonment of fishing gear.

The FSM government is dedicated to protecting its ocean resources while simultaneously maximizing their use for the development and well-being of our people. Partnerships between the public sector (i.e. NORMA) and private sector (e.g. CFC, NFC, Diving Seagull) augmented with support from scientific leaders (i.e. ISSF) will help ensure a positive future for both our fish as well as the citizens of the FSM.

Pacific urged to stop Japan’s nuclear waste plans

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Republished from Radio New Zealand, 29 January 2019

Environmentalists want to stop Japan’s plans to discharge what they say is more than a million tonnes of highly contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

The Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Credit: supplied to Radio New Zealand

A Greenpeace nuclear specialist, Shaun Burnie, said a nuclear water crisis at the Fukushima Plant had been worsened by technical failures.

He said flawed decision-making behind the plans was driven by cost-cutting from the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Mr Burnie called on Pacific countries to stop Japan’s plans, given the need to protect the environment, regional communities and the fishing industry.

“Any nation that requires or is active in the Pacific on environmental issues, whether it’s economic, whether it’s fisheries.

“We’ve done so much damage to our oceans – from climate change, from nuclear weapons testing by France and the United States.

“The Japanese Government can make a decision in managing this waste without threatening the environment.

“And if they hear voices from around the Pacific saying that it’s not acceptable, that certainly can have an effect.”

Dr Tanaka Noriko from the Japanese Embassy in Wellington denied the Greenpeace report.

He said tests carried out on the nuclear water last year had shown a value below the detection rate.

But Greenpeace maintains the government and TEPCO must reassess their options for the long-term management of the highly contaminated water at Fukushima.

Mr Burnie said “the only viable option is the long-term storage of this water in robust steel tanks over at least the next century, and the parallel development of water processing technology”.

He said the government and TEPCO had set an objective of “solving” the radioactive water crisis by 2020, which was never credible.

Nuclear specialist, Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace Germany, north of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, with plant in background. Greenpeace. Credit: Photo supplied to Radio New Zealand

“TEPCO has finally admitted that its technology has failed to reduce levels of strontium, and other hazardous radioactivity, to below regulatory limits.

“Discharging into the Pacific is the worst option and must be ruled out.

“We have raised the water crisis with the UN International Maritime Organization and firmly stand with local communities, especially fisheries, who are strongly opposed to any plans to discharge contaminated water into their fishing grounds,” said Mr Burnie.

New tuna longline FIPs have potential to turn the tide at RFMO negotiations

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Republished from Seafood Source, 29 January 2019

Tuna longlining’s sustainability credentials can take a big step forward through the two supply chain-supported improvement projects announced this month for albacore fisheries in the Indian Ocean and Western and Central Pacific Ocean, according to NGO project leader Ocean Outcomes (O2).

The Indian Ocean albacore and South Pacific albacore and yellowfin fisheries supply Bumble Bee with around 50,000 metric tons (MT) of tuna, which the North American seafood brand sources through Taiwanese fresh and frozen tuna trader FCF Fishery Company Ltd. 

“As we procure a significant amount of albacore tuna annually to meet demand for our products, we are in a unique position to help ensure the long term sustainability of longline albacore fisheries,” Bumble Bee Vice President of Sustainability Mike Kraft said. “All of that tuna comes from healthy stocks. This initiative will launch two fishery improvement projects [FIPs] to help ensure those stocks remain healthy, while working to close identified gaps between current fishery operations and other [Marine Stewardship Council] principles.”

Daniel Suddaby, vice president of strategy and impact at O2, told SeafoodSource that the aim of the FIPs is to bring the fisheries up to a level of best-practice where they can be entered into full assessment according to the MSC standard within five years without any conditions.

Being longline fisheries, one of the inherent challenges will be generating data, and in particular understanding what the vessels are catching and what they are discarding. Once that information is established, the true impact of the fisheries can be better understood and it can be determined if this is acceptable within the MSC guidelines, and if not, that improvements are made to the operations.

This is one of the key areas that O2 expects to see some important progress, Suddaby said.

As for the best approach for the fisheries to address these information gaps, he said it’s likely that some form of onboard observation – most likely electronic – will bring about data improvements across the fleets. This will lead to a better understanding of the fisheries’ current impacts and the necessary mitigation to reduce these to a sustainable level.

Another central focus is in regard to stock management and the requirement of most MSC fisheries to have effective harvest control rules (HCRs) that can adjust the catch size in relation to the population levels of the target stock.

“Bumble Bee has been forward-thinking in the area of ecosystem impacts. They have already trialed some electronic observers on a number of their vessels and they’re getting that data back. These efforts are at the cutting-edge of transparency and understanding what’s on-board and also where the boats go,” Suddaby said.

He also acknowledged that having the engagement and buy-in from a key industry player is critical to the success of FIPs such as these, as it generates the necessary incentive for the supply chain to adopt change.

“Of course, there are other ways of going about a fishery improvement project – a small-scale community-based FIP, for example, might be working bottom-up with the fishers and then identifying partners as part of that fishery improvement process,” Suddaby said. “But in this case, the tuna fisheries are quite well developed with globally traded products, so you need that buyer commitment up front.”

As such, and beyond achieving MSC accreditation, Suddaby said these new FIPs have the “bigger-picture” potential to connect catching fleets that have so far skirted around committing to robust sustainability plans. This is particularly the case among Northeast Asian longliners.

“I have been working at a tuna RFMO level for some eight years and often one of the key challenges has been engagement at meetings of the Northeast Asian states such as Korea, China, and Japan. These national delegations are not [as good at] working together on the sustainability agenda as those other nations that have much more structured sustainability markets,” Suddaby said. “I think this project is a really great way of engaging those fleets and through that engagement getting much more cohesive and constructive dialogue at the RFMO meetings. This will hopefully drive better management for the fisheries as a whole.”

To support its Northeast Asian tuna fishery improvement work and ramping up the engagement of the region’s longline fleets, O2 has received funding from the U.S.-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

“The FIPs with Bumble Bee really are the flagship of this improvement work,” Suddaby said. “We believe that the conservation community as a whole can use these FIPs as a vehicle to engage governments in positive change at the RFMOs.”

Given time, these and other similar efforts could put tuna longlining on a similar sustainability path now seen in the purse-seine sector, Suddaby said.

“I have seen the purse-seine sector make great strides along the road to sustainability. I also think tuna longlining could be on a similar trajectory, but it’s earlier in the process,” he said. “It’s exciting that we might be seeing a shift with the sector, which is traditionally more challenging, particularly with its larger bycatch.”

While tuna longlining is a lot less centralized than purse-seining and traditionally the investment in boats and the involvement from big brands is not at the same level, Suddaby said there are early signs of change, and the engagement of both Bumble Bee and FCF could be considered something of a game-changer. 

“It’s starting; some of the interest in improvement and leverage is beginning to be there,” he said. “In getting these companies engaged with our project, I’m hopeful that the outreach and engagement from other longliners will increase and that will accelerate the movement towards better sustainability. This is what we’ve seen in other catching sectors, including purse-seine.”

Author: Jason Holland

ISSF: Most of world’s tuna stocks still not receiving passing MSC scores

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Republished from Undercurrent News, 25 January 2019

Bluefin tuna harvesting in the village of Ildiri, Cesme, Turkey. Credit: zaferkizilkaya/Shutterstock.com

Just five of the world’s 19 commercial tuna stocks have earned a passing “Principle 1” score from the Marine Stewardship Council,  the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) notes in a report issued Friday.  

In “ISSF 2019-02: An Evaluation of the Sustainability of Global Tuna Stocks Relative to Marine Stewardship Council Criteria”, the latest of four reports published since 2013, ISSF — a global coalition that includes scientists, representatives of the tuna industry and the World Wildlife Fund — said it found that just six of the 19 stocks were being managed to avoid overfishing, the same as a year ago.

Principle 1 is the standard for operating in a way that does not deplete the fishery.

Though The South Pacific albacore Principle 1 score has improved thanks to further progress by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission on this stock’s harvest strategy work plan, two other stocks have seen their overall Principle 1 scores worsen, ISSF noted. The eastern Pacific bigeye fishery saw its score decline “due mostly to uncertainties in its latest stock assessment”, while the Atlantic yellowfin tuna dropped “due to weak tools in place to control exploitation that may be hindering its rebuilding plan”, the group said.

Fiji gets US help for border protection

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Republished from Radio New Zealand, 24 January 2019

Fiji’s efforts to protect its fisheries and borders received a boost this week following the arrival of a United States Coast Guard patrol vessel.

Credit: kelleherphoto/123RF

The Commander of the Cutter Mellon, Stephen Burdian, told Fijivillage the ship will help Fiji to patrol its waters for illegal fishing and to counter drug-trafficking.

He said the exercise is part of a Pacific Fisheries Commission agreement which Fiji, the US and 41 other nations and agencies are party to.

Captain Burdian said the commission aims to manage and preserve fish stocks in the region.

The crew will also visit an animal shelter and children’s hospital while in Fiji.

Palau says it will continue to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing

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Small island nations like Palau are leading the charge in a  raft of regional programs such as addressing one Pacific challenge – Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. 

Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. told reporters in a press conference on December 26 that Palau is one of the strongest advocates of sustainable future in the Pacific.

“More and more we should look at ourselves as a contributing country,” Remengesau said.

He said Palau is working with development partners to ramp up maritime surveillance in the Pacific to combat illegal fishing and other crimes at sea.

Palau, he said, will continue to work with Japan, Australia, United States and neighboring small countries.

Palau will continue to advocate for sustainable fishing as its contribution to being  a part of the eight-member of the Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA)  is to put in place policies to discourage over fishing.

“As part of the PNA member countries, we establish conservation area within each jurisdiction, in the mould of similar activities as Protected Areas Network or sanctuaries, to ensure sustainability of the fisheries resources into the future,” President Tommy Remengesau said.

 The PNA controls the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery. The PNA members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Remengesau said under the PNA arrangement, Palau continue to receive its share of the revenues, despite small fishing activities in its waters.

Palau receives its share under the PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme (VDS). The VDS is a system where fishing effort in days is allocated to the eight members.

Fishing days are sold to fleets at a price of at least $8,000 per fishing day.

Palau has earned over $5 million in 2016 from its VDS revenue while the nation’s VDS revenue from longline fisheries amounted to $475,480 that year.

The President said Palau contributes to the PNA as one of the strongest champions against illegal and unsustainable fishing

 “We don’t want to continue with the unsustainable fishing practice of harvest, harvest and harvest, that’s why there should be an active program to ensure sustainable population of the fish stocks in the Pacific region,” Remengesau said.

He said Palau’s national marine sanctuary law is: “Palau’s contribution to the overall PNA commitment to not only harvest but also conserve the resources.”

In an earlier statement, PNA and the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) quoted  a report on the impact of IUU fishing prepared for the FFA in 2016. The report 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 2015, Palau led with signing into law a legislation declaring 80 percent of its waters as  a marine sanctuary, where no commercial fishing will take place.

Palau is also set to become the first country in the world to ban certain reef-toxic sunscreen and the first country to introduce a passport pledge to require tourists to protect its environment.