The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) celebrated 40 years of operation with a dinner hosted by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister in Honiara.
The organisation was first housed in a two bedroom house in Lengakiki in 1979 to support the sovereign rights of coastal states to conserve and manage their ‘living resources’ including migratory species.
Director General of the FFA, Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen, said the group provides a forum for regional cooperation that ensures its 17 country members can leverage fisheries resources to maximize economic and social benefits for their communities.
Reflecting on the 40 years of the organisation, Dr Tupou-Roosen said the FFA is about making a positive difference in the lives of Pacific people, and she thanked past and current staff who served the region.
More skipjack and yellowfin tuna will move to the tropical waters, while albacore, Atlantic bluefin, bigeye and southern bluefin will shift into colder seas in the future, according to research led by AZTI, a Spanish research body.
If a coastal country’s local fleet anticipates the changes in abundance and distribution of the target species, it may adapt its fishing gear or change its target species, said Haritz Arrizabalaga, who carried out the study with Maite Erauskin-Extramiana.
“Knowing in advance what will happen in the future enables adaptation strategies to the transformations to be drawn up. [A coastal country’s local fleet] may be able to continue fishing the same species, but investing in larger vessels, capable of going out further in search of these species,” said Arrizabalaga.
The researchers took into account the effect of the environmental conditions on the worldwide distribution of tuna species, such as albacore, Atlantic bluefin, southern bluefin, tropical bigeye, skipjack and yellowfin between 1958 and 2004. This enables the influence of climate change in the future to be assessed and specific predictions to be made, they claim. The study has been published Global Change Biology.
“During the historical period analyzed, the habitat distribution limits of the tuna have moved towards the poles at a rate of 6.5 kilometers per decade in the northern hemisphere and 5.5km per decade in the southern one. Based on the influence of climate change, even strong changes in tuna distribution and abundance are expected in the future, particularly at the end of the century (2088 – 2099),” said Arrizabalaga.
More specifically, the study forecasts that temperate tuna species, such as albacore, Atlantic bluefin and southern bluefin, will move towards the poles. Bigeye tuna will reduce its presence in the tropics and will move to warmer areas. On the other hand, the analysis predicts that the main two canned tuna species — skipjack and yellowfin — will become more abundant in the tropical areas, as well as in most of the fishing areas of coastal countries, or in other words, in the maritime economic exclusive zones which stretches from their coastline to a distance of 200 nautical miles.
“Tuna predictions offers relatively good news for tuna fishing to continue as an important food source, due to the origin of the main tuna protein consumption in humans comes from skipjack and yellowfin tuna from the tropical area,” said Arrizabalaga.
The study has enabled analysis on how the worldwide distribution and abundance of the main tuna species will vary due to climate change and, in this way, quantify the future trends of the tuna populations.
“Tuna species are resources of enormous economic importance and a key source of protein for much of the population. As a result of climate change, their habitat distribution is changing and, related to this, the opportunities of different countries to access this source of wealth. This study aims to explain what has happened in the past and predict what will happen in the future so that countries and fishing fleets can come up with adaptation strategies to the new circumstances,” said Erauskin-Extramiana.
Climate change will cost Pacific island countries and territories about $60 million in lost tuna-related revenue by 2050, Johann Bell, senior director of Pacific tuna fisheries at Conservation International, reportedly told the Pacific Islands News Association.
The estimate is based on recent modeling done with tuna biomass within the exclusive economic zones of the Pacific island countries and territories, assuming a 15% movement of skipjack and yellowfin to the east, he said. As a result, he explained, regional governments will receive less revenue because foreign fishing fleets will take more of their tuna catch from the high seas where they do not have to pay licensing fees.
Bell was reportedly speaking at the conclusion of the Pacific Community workshop for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030, an event held in Noumea, in the French territory New Caledonia.
In 2016, license fees revenue for all the Pacific island countries and territories was about $465m, he said.
An adult shortfin mako shark entangled in fishing rope. Photograph: Daniel Cartamil/PA
Researchers call for urgent action to protect large species in international waters
Australian Associated Press, The Guardian – 25 July 2019
The world’s shark populations are at increasing risk
of becoming bycatch of international fishing fleets, which harvest them in open
oceans where no legal protections exist, Australian researchers have said.
Rob Harcourt, from Macquarie University, said large sharks were more vulnerable
to longline fishing and called for urgent action to protect them by
implementing management strategies on the high seas.
Harcourt joined colleagues from
Australia and 25 other countries to collect and collate data from nearly 2,000
sharks tracked using satellite transmitter tags.
Japan is giving Solomon Islands aid to support its fisheries development programmes.
In an agreement signed on Monday, Japan is providing $US1.76 million so the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources can buy equipment to support development of fisheries and the management of coastal resources.
Under the Solomons National Development Scheme, fisheries is recognised as a key sector for food security and economic development.
The aid will also help the country deal with threats from over-fishing and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
The Marshall Islands fisheries department is pushing two initiatives that could transform the country’s engagement in the multi-billion-dollar commercial tuna fishery in the region.
One initiative, to gain access to the lucrative European Union (EU) market, has long been desired by industry.
other, the fisheries department’s aim to gain a bigger piece of the tuna
revenue pie, is likely to cause industry concern, at least in the short-term.
Gaining access to Europe would require the establishment of the first “competent authority” in the Marshall Islands (RMI) that, once in place, can facilitate fish exports to the European Union, the world’s largest seafood market.
A competent authority is an entity that provides independent verification through inspections of vessels and processing plants, laboratory testing, and catch documentation to confirm that tuna catches for export meet EU requirements. The EU requires seafood exports from the RMI or other third countries to meet compliance requirements through a recognised competent authority.
“The key is to establish national standards that meet international standards,” says Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) Director Glen Joseph, who is pushing the competent authority process forward.
Majuro has established itself as a hub for the tuna industry in recent years: over 300,000 tons of tuna was transhipped through Majuro in 2018. It was worth close to half a billion dollars at last year’s world market prices.
Industry players have encouraged the Marshall Islands to establish a competent authority to expand export options for the tuna industry, which now exports to markets in the United States, Canada, and Asia.
It will pilot Marshall Islands participation in the entire value chain of tuna from the sale of fishing days to vessels to the delivery of tuna tonnage to processing plants.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) has revolutionised island management of and engagement in the purse-seine fishery since it came into play in 2010. Mr Joseph says the VDS is a platform that allows for greater participation by individual PNA members or groups of islands. At the moment, the Marshall Islands, through MIMRA, sells several thousand fishing days annually to fishing companies, sales that generate around $25 million annually.
But Mr Joseph wants to move the Marshall Islands beyond simply selling fishing days to engaging in additional steps in the chain from catch to processing – all of which contribute a piece of the multi-billion-dollar value of the tuna industry in the Pacific.
Both the competent authority and participation in the tuna value chain are “opportunities we can harness and cater for”, Mr Joseph says.
“We can use them as leverage to catch more benefits [for Marshall Islands]. The Vessel Day Scheme itself gives us the confidence and leverage to participate throughout the value chain.”
PNA’s establishment of its brand and marketing arm, Pacifical, is a prime example of how the islands can gain greater benefits, says Mr Joseph. Pacifical has co-branded with global tuna companies to distribute sustainably caught tuna from PNA waters into a range of markets, including Australia and Europe.
“If the competent authority is done right, tuna boats can off-load in Majuro and participate in direct market access [to the EU],” Mr Joseph says.
MIMRA has engaged an expert on competent authority operations and is beginning the steps necessary to establish the entity for the Marshall Islands. Currently, four Pacific nations have competent authorities: Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea.
While the competent authority has long been promoted by industry because of the obvious export opportunities it opens up, there will likely be less enthusiasm from industry for increased Marshall Islands participation throughout the tuna value chain.
When PNA began full implementation of the VDS for the purse-seine industry 10 years ago, there was strong push back from certain parts of the industry and governments of distant-water fishing nations that did not like the changed management environment, which included the islands gaining a substantially larger slice of the tuna money pie. Revenue for the nine participating PNA islands has risen from $60 million in 2010 to close to $500 million last year.
“Now, vessels are paying us to access a portion of the value chain [fishing days],” Mr Joseph says.
“We want to take an integrated approach to fisheries development.”
MIMRA’s idea is that, instead of deriving revenue from only sale of fishing days, it can generate value – revenue – from the tuna resource at every stage in the process from catch to processing.
MIMRA’s concept for fuller participation is in line with “rights-based management”, which is what the PNA group has brought to the purse-seine fishery and is now developing for the longline industry.
“Some say, ‘You’re dreaming’. But these are our fish, and we want to take them to market. Some people said the VDS was a crazy idea. But look where we are today,” says Mr Joseph.
He pointed out that trading of fishing days among PNA members and pooling days together to give fishing vessels access to multiple zones, which increases the sale value of fishing day, are all working.
“Now, we are looking at trading rights,” he says.
“It’s a trial. We’re putting our neck out to see if it works. If we don’t try, we’ll never know.”
In a communiqué on the outcomes of the meeting, the ministers noted that all stocks were continuing to decline and that there were gaps in tuna management, particularly on the high seas and in the longline fishery.
This was despite progress on meeting targets of the regional roadmap for sustainable fisheries. Progress had been driven largely by the purse-seine fishery, they said.
The ministers also “welcomed the priority that the FFA is placing on work to respond to the threat of climate change, which they say “is the single greatest threat to the security of Pacific Island countries”. They called for greater investment in research into the impact on tuna of climate change.
The ministers discussed improvements in minimum working conditions for crews working on foreign vessels that are licensed to fish in FFA members’ waters. They would extend these conditions to cover domestic fleets.
E-monitoring uses video cameras, remote sensors, and
satellites installed on fishing vessels to provide information on activities
such as retained and discarded catch, bycatch (non-target species caught),
location of catch, and movement of catch between boats.
“Observing, measuring, assessing and reporting what is happening with commercial fishing vessels at sea is critical for reducing IUU [illegal, unreported and unregulated] fishing in the Pacific,” says Hugh Walton, the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Chief Technical Officer for the Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP2).
The Ministers at last month’s annual meeting (18–19 June) held in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), tasked the FFA Secretariat with working with members to develop an electronic monitoring policy before its next meeting in 2020. This policy is to be developed in collaboration with the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office (PNAO) and Pacific Community (SPC) researchers.
Several PNA member countries have focused on e-monitoring of longline vessels since a workshop last year. This was driven by one of its members, FSM, committing to having 100 per cent of its longline vessels with e-monitoring by 2023.
E-monitoring is particularly important for longline fishing where there is a large number of vessels with limited space, making it difficult to have human observers on every boat.
Unlike purse-seine fishing, conditions on longline vessels are often very difficult, with cramped quarters, and boats can be at sea for many months at a time.
The Pacific purse-seine fishery has 100 per cent human observer coverage on vessels. However, e-monitoring could also complement the activities of observers on these boats.
With e-monitoring, different areas of the vessel can be monitored at the same time and operate 24-7. The images and data can be stored indefinitely and reviewed multiple times.
Fishing regulators in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati have chosen the Spanish engineering company Satlink to help it modernize its fisheries management platform, the company said in a release.
Kiribati’s Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is responsible for monitoring an exclusive economic zone with some 15% of the world’s tropical tuna. The collaboration with the Spanish firm will allow vessel monitoring and electronic reporting information to be merged into an integrated control center later this year.
“The initiative will allow the Kiribati Fisheries Administration to evolve to a system with advanced management capabilities and enable them to exploit the available information and improve the management of their fishing resources,” Satlink said in the release.
Pacific fisheries ministers have made their strongest commitment yet to ending slavery and poor working conditions on boats operating in the region.
Forum Fisheries Agency member countries have endorsed a rule which establishes minimum conditions for crew on board foreign fishing vessels.
These include things like contracts written in employees’ languages and making sure all crew are treated with dignity and fairness.
The agency’s director general, Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen, said the protections apply to both domestic and foreign fleets.
“Our members themselves have set a deadline that by 1 January 2020 they will make best endeavours to incorporate these minimum conditions into their national laws, their license conditions, their access agreements and that they will report back through our governing structures on how exactly they have incorporated these.”
The region’s fisheries ministers also endorsed a new strategy for the Pacific tuna fishery at the meeting.
They spoke of mitigating and adapting to climate change and improving management of the longline fishery and they decided to adopt a new Strategic Action Plan for the region.
Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen said it would it pave the way for a lot of important work in the region.
“The tuna our major stocks will move from west to east over time most notably after 2050. So it is critical that we start looking at what current fisheries management regimes we have in place and how we adapt and make it flexible and robust in response to that type of change.”