PNG industry, Frabelle hope MSC certification can boost processing sector

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Scene from the port of Alotau, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. Credit: Marina Riley/

by Neil Ramsden

Republished from Undercurrent News, 24 May 2019

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has commenced the process of getting its tuna fishery Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, and it is already looking ahead to the benefits it hopes certification can bring. 

Key among those is boosting the on-shore processing sector, which has had some difficulties in achieving its full potential in recent years. There are six plants on PNG, including Filipino firm Frabelle’s own operation and its joint venture with Thai Union Group, named Majestic Seafood.

There is also RD Processing, IFC, Nambawan Seafood, and South Seas Tuna Co.

Frabelle president Francisco Tiu Laurel has previously told Undercurrent News of the difficulties in realizing the company’s potential on the island. This time last year the two plants it is involved with had been forced to lay off employees, and were considering closing entirely, apparently because the government had ended subsidies for foreign companies.

Already, though, the situation is looking brighter, Tiu Laurel said. 

“For our plants Majestic and Frabelle PNG we are again up and running at about 70% of our capacity, and we have rehired about 800 workers per plant as the government of PNG has approved to give us some refund for the fish that PNG-flagged vessels unload and process on shore-based facilities,” he said.

The government’s final decision on these regulations is yet to be determined, and once it is, Frabelle will be hoping PNG’s national fisheries authority signs it as soon as possible. 

“Once we get this we will be running the factories at full capacity, and hire more workers hopefully in the near future,” said the Frabelle boss.

PNG tuna processing industry. Graphic: Undercurrent News.

Presenting at the recent Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium, PNG Fishing Industry Association (FIA) chairman Sylvester Pokajam noted the island’s six plants are currently operating at around half capacity; Frabelle at 90 metric tons (of a possible 120t) per day, and Majestic at 80t of a possible 250t.

In total, the processing sector is operating at 7,125t/ day, compared to its full capacity of 15,000t. Pokajam and Tiu Laurel both told Undercurrent that gaining MSC would help bring that utilization up.

“If PNG gets its own MSC it will definitely help the plants, as demand for MSC fish is increasing in several markets around the world,” said Tiu Laurel.

How will MSC help?

PNG’s government originally set up its “domestication policy” to attract downstream investment to the island, FIA told Undercurrent

This policy incentivized shore-based investments from fishing operators already working on PNG, like RD and Frabelle, by discounting fishing license fees to compensate for the higher production costs of processing in PNG. This meant tuna canned there could compete on the global export market (mostly Europe). “Canned products from PNG had to compete with high volume, low-cost products from South America (Ecuador) and Thailand, which were also going into the EU market, and still is.”

The policy attracted overseas investors too, leading to the construction of five of the plants now operating (IFC initially set up shop in PNG to can imported mackerel for the domestic PNG market, FIA added”.

However, before all processing plants were able to fully reach their processing capacity there was a shift in the application of the domestication policy, whereby the fishing license fees were calculated on the basis of the “vessels day scheme” (VDS) rate, on a par with a region-wide benchmark price. “This benchmark price was two-to-three times the discounted rate,” FIA noted.

“The PNG government then further changed the policy application and introduced the regional VDS rate across the board on all fishing vessels (both domestic-based and distant-water fishing nations). This again further compounded the production cost of a unit of canned tuna produced in PNG.”

So, now PNG’s domestic vessel operators feel there’s no incentive to produce a cost-competitive product in PNG if they are paying the same licensing fee rate as the distant-water fishing fleets, “who have not sacrificed and taken on risk on any shore-based investment, as PNG domestic investors have done”.

The industry lobbied, and the PNG government tried a new line; a rebate scheme on both the processing sector — calculated per metric ton of value-added — and on the fishing sector (per ton of fish landed into a PNG shore-based plant). “This rebate scheme is having its share of challenges in implementation to date, and rebates haven’t been paid as and when due,” said FIA.

Hence, FIA said, processors are not currently inclined to utilize their full capacity. But:

“With the MSC fish, it attracts a premium price compared to the current non-MSC fish products. Hence, with certification, the same volume of fish produced by PNG processors will attract the premium price, and this would enable a viable return for the processors to produce more in PNG. Eventually, the MSC value becomes the incentive to attract the volume to be landed and produced in PNG, and the plants processing volume will progressively improve towards their full capacity.”

Extra volumes too

Tiu Laurel also noted PNG’s ongoing MSC process encompasses an area of fishery not currently covered by the PNA certification.

“Plus it [would] also make catches from the archipelagic waters of PNG MSC certifiable, [volumes] which currently are not included in other MSC approved areas,” he added. At present PNG is part of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement MSC certified tuna fishery, but it is looking to break away from this organization as the sales are controlled by Dutch organization Pacifical, which parts of PNG’s sector have fallen out with.

Tuna catches of the PNA islands 2018. Photo: Undercurrent News.

“The archipelagic waters produce a lot of fish annually, and [are] very near the ports of Lae and Madang, where most of the factories are located, thus making it very important for the factories to get a constant supply of fish to process,” Tiu Laurel said.

Historical catch records suggest archipelagic catches would add around 90,000t more MSC certified tuna per year, the FIA told Undercurrent.

From a high of 506,413t of tuna caught in 2013 in PNG waters, volumes dived to 135,687t in 2015. That has since been on the rise again, to 316,278t in 2018, according to FIA data. Importantly, said Pokajam, this has always been made up just 1% bigeye tuna, a species there are concerns for in terms of biomass. Skipjack made up 65% of the total, and yellowfin 34%, in 2017.

“Landings in PNG are actually up, in my opinion, except for the first three months [of 2019] when catches were down, mainly due to bad weather. But from April onwards I think it will be okay,” Tiu Laurel told Undercurrent.

Looking ahead

Based on Tiu Laurel and Pokajam’s comments, PNG’s tuna sector is now waiting on what it hopes will be a successful MSC certification and a more favorable government approach.

“We need this additional refund to make us really competitive, as we are now paying full VDS [vessel day scheme] fees — the same as other overseas fishing companies fishing in PNG, which is not fair,” said Tiu Laurel of the possible changes in regulation.

Other Pacific Island nations grant the locally-flagged fleets a 40-50% discount on VDS rates, and allow them to fish for free in the “eastern high seas”, managed under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, he claimed. 

“This is a terrible disadvantage to the PNG-based fleet. The difference in cost of operation per vessel is about $1 million per annum versus other vessels,” said Tiu Laurel. “Due to this many have actually left the PNG registry, and if not addressed soon many more will leave.”

In 2018 there were 226 vessels licenses to fish in PNG’s exclusive economic zone — 61 reefers carriers and 165 purse seiners. In 2019 there are 61 vessels either PNG-flagged or locally-based foreign vessels licensed, affiliated to five companies; see the slide to the right.

PNG Flag & Locally Based Foreign Vessels by PNG Based Fishing Companies 2019. Graphic: Undercurrent News.

Any new regulations for PNG will have to wait for the time being, though. As the Diplomatreports, a vote of no confidence was slated to take place on May 16 to remove prime minister Peter O’Neill from office. O’Neill had rejected calls to resign earlier in May.

O’Neill disrupted the opposition’s plans by obtaining a parliamentary adjournment on May 7. Following the adjournment, opposition members of parliament can now only table a no-confidence motion again once parliament resumes operations on May 28.

Tiu Laurel has, in the past, told Undercurrent of Frabelle’s ambitions to expand its processing to other Pacific Islands, namely Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

The latter remains on the cards, though plans have been delayed, he said. 

“We intend to build one more loin and pouch plant in FSM, Pohnpei state, and we are now working on a state agreement with the fisheries department. But recently there has been a change in leadership as there is a new president, and we are waiting for the new cabinet to be chosen and continue the negotiation.”

Frabelle hopes to finalize talks this year, and to begin construction next year, he said.

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WWF Cites Charity’s Work in Pacific Fisheries Crew Welfare Initiative

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Photo: Maritime Executive.

Republished from the Maritime Executive, 20 May 2019

The recent Human Rights at Sea and NGO Pacific Dialogue Fijian fisheries case study about Mesake Kaisuva by his widow Salote Kaisuva, has been used by WWF Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Team to brief the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Working Group (MCSWG) supporting positive changes for the implementation of a crew welfare licensing minimum terms and conditions.

WWF lead, Bubba Cook, cited to the charity the leadership role by the FFA on the issue, and that last week the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) approved the minimum licensing conditions for crew welfare in the region.

WWF have been pushing this initiative for more than a year as an extension of their work on Observer Safety and Security, with the first significant provision on the issue being a presentation Bubba in October 2018 to the Management Objectives Consultation of the FFA highlighting the global media coverage and case studies on abuses in the Pacific region fishing industry, including those from Human Rights at Sea.

Bubba said: “In April 2019, I provided an intervention on the HRAS report on Mesake Kaisuva to the FFA MCS Working Group and offered the report as an information paper. Subsequently, it was cited a couple of times by Member States in interventions supporting the implementation of a crew welfare licensing minimum terms and conditions (MTC), most notably by Fiji. The MCS Working Group consequently forwarded the recommendation to the Forum Fisheries Committee, who agreed to adoption of the proposed MTCs last week, which represents the first instance of its kind where a fisheries institution has attempted to address crew welfare and human rights. The FFC’s recommendation will now go forward to the FFC Ministers.”

Human Rights at Sea Founder, David Hammond, commented: “It is reassuring to know that the charity’s independent work and investigations alongside key partners is being positively used to influence State-level decision-making for the betterment of crew welfare provisions in the Pacific region, and we thank WWF for their engagement.”

Coming Up. Human Rights at Sea will be shortly issuing another detailed case study on the effects on Fijian tuna fishermen of dangerous working conditions resulting in life-changing injuries.

The products and services herein described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.

Pacific fishing nations strengthen rules to protect their tuna and economies

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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
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.


For more information and photos contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, +691 920 5332

Richard Clark, FSM Public Information Office,

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.

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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

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.”


For more information and photos contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, +691 920 5332

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.

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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 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.


For more information and photos contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, +691 920 5332

Richard Clark, FSM Public Information Office, + +691-920-1612

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.

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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.