First fishery achieves MSC certification for bigeye tuna

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PRESS RELEASE – Marine Stewardship Council, 7 March 2019

A Chinese owned longline yellowfin and bigeye tuna fishery in the Federated States of Micronesia has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for its bigeye tuna catch. This is the first time that bigeye has been certified to the MSC’s globally recognised standard for sustainable fishing.

The fishery, owned by three Chinese fishing companies, Liancheng Overseas Fishery (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd (SZLC), China Southern Fishery Shenzhen Co. Ltd (CSFC) and Liancheng Overseas Fishery (FSM) Co. Ltd. (FZLC), achieved MSC certification for yellowfin in October 2018.  Following an independent assessment by conformity assessment body, Control Union, bigeye can now be added to the list of certified species caught by the fishery. 

The latest stock assessment for bigeye in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) shows that stocks are healthy and being fished at a sustainable rate. In order to ensure that the fishery can respond to any changes in the health of the bigeye stock, certification is conditional upon the adoption of harvest strategies including harvest control rules, by all member states of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) by 2021. 

Bill Holden, Senior Fisheries Outreach Manager for the MSC in Oceania & South East Asia said: “We congratulate Liancheng and their partners for becoming the first fishery to be eligible to sell MSC certified bigeye tuna. They are demonstrating true leadership in sustainable fishing. To maintain their certification, Liancheng will need to work with other fishing organisations and the WCPFC to agree to important management measures to safeguard bigeye tuna stocks. As a result, this certification could influence the sustainability of bigeye fishing across the entire WCPO.”

Sam Chou, President of Liancheng Overseas Fishery (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., the parent company of the three fleets certified said: “We are extremely proud to have the first bigeye tuna fishery to be certified to the MSC Standard.  It is a distinct honor.  Liancheng is the largest Chinese fleet to achieve MSC certification. We are dedicated to achieving certification for all our fisheries.”

Liancheng is also responsible for the Cook Islands South Pacific albacore and yellowfin longline fishery which achieved MSC certification in 2015. Its yellowfin and bigeye tuna fisheries in the Republic of Marshall Islands are also undergoing MSC assessment, with a conclusion expected by the end of 2019.

Joe Murphy, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Liancheng said:“Our customers and consumers recognize the value of MSC certification, and our ability to provide fish for sale with the blue MSC label. We hope to market MSC certified bigeye catch in China, Japan, Asia, the United States and Europe.” 

Samoa and FFA sign agreement on Regional Aerial Surveillance Program

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Republished from Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

APIA, 28 February 2019 – The Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi and FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise Samoa’s support for the FFA’s Regional Aerial Surveillance Program.

The Regional Aerial Surveillance initiative is funded by Australia as part of the Pacific Maritime Security Program to enhance the surveillance capacity of Pacific Island countries to deter, detect and respond to illegal or security-related activities occurring in their Exclusive Economic Zones.

Under the MoU, Samoa will host one and Vanuatu the other, of two King Air200 aircrafts fitted with high-tech sensors, avionics and communications technologies, capable of detecting fishing vessels over a wide area of ocean. Dr Tupou-Roosen said the MoU with Samoa was another significant step forward.

“I wish to acknowledge the generous support of the Government of Australia to strengthen the surveillance capabilities of participating Members through the Pacific Maritime Security Program. This will enable the FFA to assist Pacific islands countries in further addressing maritime surveillance needs and enforcement operations,” said Hon. Tuilaepa Malielegaoi.

“The surveillance programme, in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat program, will provide targeted maritime patrolling and enhance the ability of Pacific island countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as illegal fishing and transnational crime,” he added.

“The Marshall Islands signed a similar agreement earlier this month and now Samoa is also demonstrating leadership with its willingness to host one of the King Aircraft. Our Members are contributing to a new level of regional cooperation, with Australia funding the Program and the FFA Secretariat managing the planes and working in close consultation with Members,” said FFA DG, Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

The Regional Aerial Surveillance Program commenced in December 2017. Two King Air aircrafts will provide 1400 hours of aerial surveillance per year for 15 FFA Members.

The Regional Surveillance Programme provides targeted maritime patrolling
Image: FFA

For further information contact:

Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, donna.hoerder@ffa.int, ph: +677 7733097

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 Samoa Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)

The Ministry is responsible for the administration of Government’s business with foreign countries and their governments as well as international organizations. It also endeavours to initiate and continue to provide high quality and professional policy advice to Government on the management of Samoa’s foreign and trade relations. The Ministry is committed to promoting Samoa’s national interests to achieve most benefits in relation to political, trade and economic and security 

PRESS RELEASE: Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Signs Fisheries Collaboration MoU with Thailand’s Department of Fisheries

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Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, 22 February 2018 – Tuna transhipments from fishing vessels to refrigerated carrier vessels is a daily occurrence in Majuro port and represent a vital element of the Pacific tuna fishery and the ongoing Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) efforts undertaken by Pacific Island countries.

Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) officials, along with their NZMFAT Offshore Fisheries Advisor, were in Bangkok, Thailand this week to attend the 6th Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW)* from 18 – 22 February 2019.

Along the margins, the team took the opportunity to hold brief bilateral discussions with the Thailand Department of Fisheries on issues of mutual interest, namely, the signing of a fisheries cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The MoU, signed on 22 February, is the result of a year-long engagement between the 2 countries whereby 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, RMI (Majuro) being arguably the busiest transhipment port in the world and Thailand (Bangkok) as the largest tuna receiving/processing port.

With the signing of the MoU, the RMI, through MIMRA, will now be able to receive verified weights of tuna catches that are transhipped 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.

MIMRA will provide relevant transhipment data to Thailand’s Department of Fisheries including estimation of volumes transhipped in Majuro port along with departure clearance of carrier vessels with full traceability of catch on board and hatch plan totals – information that Thailand has otherwise been unable to collect from Coastal States whose EEZs the catch is taken and in this case the port of Majuro where a large volume of the tuna that ends up in Bangkok is transhipped from purse seine fishing vessels onto carrier vessels.

The MoU is in line with the RMI 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 RMI, through MIMRA, is currently considering signing and ratifying in the near future.

*The GFETW is a biennial or triennial conference organized by the International Fisheries Monitoring Control and Survelliance (MCS) Network to improve and enhance capacity and communications of MCS practitioners around the world. Sustainable fisheries can only be achieved when fishing is pursued in compliance with the applicable rules, and therefore all fishing activities in the world’s oceans and seas should be subject to adequate levels of monitoring, surveillance, inspection and enforcement.

MEDIA RELEASE: FFA wins global Stop IUU Fishing prize

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BANGKOK 22 February 2019 – The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was awarded the top prize in the 2019 Stop Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing competition yesterday.

“This achievement recognises FFA’s work in Monitoring, Control and Surveillance initiatives to deter IUU fishing in the Pacific. Well done to the team at FFA, past and present, and all of our FFA member countries. And the award is particularly timely given FFA has just kicked off our 40th anniversary celebrations,” said FFA Director General, Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen.

“This award is a reflection of the work we do to protect the rights of FFA members over the tuna within our Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), and the foundation of the economic and social benefits that flow from that. We have to ensure that there is long term sustainability of oceanic fish stocks to secure our peoples’ future livelihoods and regional food security.”

A panel of judges used a range of key criteria including demonstrated success and innovation in reducing IUU, the feasibility and cost of IUU mitigation activities, the potential for replication and approaches to education and capacity building.

“In preparing our submission for the award, the FFA Secretariat felt we were well able to demonstrate high level performance against all the criteria” said Dr Tupou-Roosen. “Our integrated approaches to combatting IUU are coordinated through the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre at FFA and encapsulated in our Regional Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Strategy.”

“The underpinning theme of FFA and the IUU strategy is our regional cooperation. That is our Pacific way and it is the only way we are going to ensure a successful, safe, secure and prosperous future for our region,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

The bi-annual competition is run by the Global Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Network and was announced at its meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

While receiving the prize on behalf of FFA, the Acting Director for Fisheries Operations, Mr Allan Rahari, extended his thanks to the judges for their confidence in FFA, as well as the hard work and commitment of the FFA Secretariat’s current and former staff, and the Member countries. The FFA video that was part of the Agency’s submission for the award can be viewed below.


About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
FFA was established to help its 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing 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 through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

FFA was established to help its 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing 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 through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

#Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #ourmoanaourfish #FFA40th

PRESS RELEASE: FFA Director General makes first official visit to RMI

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* Meets with President Hilda C Heine

* Backs IUU FREE Pacific campaign

* Signs MoU with Govt on Aerial Surveillance Programme (ASP)

* Signs MoU with PNAO

Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen with PNG participants of NTIS exercise. Credit: Pacific Guardians

MAJURO, 12 February 2019 – Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen has made her first official visit to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, meeting last week with Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) President, Her Excellency, Dr Hilda C. Heine and Cabinet ministers.

During her meeting with President Heine and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. John M. Silk, Dr Tupou-Roosen discussed FFA’s vision and offered the FFA’s full support for the campaign against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing being led by RMI. She also highlighted FFA”s 40th anniversary plans.

“The meeting was a valuable opportunity to discuss ways in which FFA and RMI can collaborate to combat IUU fishing,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen. “We stand behind President Heine’s bold challenge for an IUU FREE Pacific by 2023. We will continue our work to combat IUU fishing with innovative tools such as the Persons of Interest project, Electronic Monitoring and Reporting work, and the enhanced capability provided through the Aerial Surveillance Programme.” They also discussed an IUU Colloquium that would be hosted by RMI later this year.

Parties to the Nauru Agreement Organisation CEO, Ludwig Kumoru and RMI Marine Resources Authority Director, Glen Joseph were also in attendance at the meeting.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Marshall Islands in support of the Aerial Surveillance Programme

In order to strengthen mechanisms to protect their fisheries resources and the need to enhance their monitoring, control and surveillance, the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Dennis Momotaro signed an MoU in support of FFA’s Regional Aerial Surveillance Programme with Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

“This MoU is symbolic as it is sets out clear parameters within which the aircraft assistance will operate, and is the platform for ensuring efficient delivery of services for RMI,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen

“This is a landmark achievement as it will complement the existing monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) framework and strongly contribute towards achieving the 2023 IUU free Pacific Challenge laid down by H.E. President Hilda Heine.”

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement with the PNAO

The visit also coincided with the signing of a historic Memorandum of Understanding between the FFA and the PNAO.

Dr. Tupou- Roosen and Mr Kumoru agreed to work closely together in supporting Members in progressing issues of common interest such as ensuring the effective management of the longline fishery and improved labour conditions on fishing vessels.

“This MoU will not only formalise and bolster our organisations relationship but will specifically move forward the directives from Members including RMI President Heine’s 2023 IUU FREE Pacific challenge,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

“Our vision is to make a positive difference on the livelihoods of Pacific people. None of our goals will occur without solidarity and cooperation,” she said.

“Cooperation is the cornerstone of our success in the Pacific and we will work together to overcome development challenges.”

Further information: Donna Hoerder, FFA Media, donna.hoerder@ffa.int, ph: +679 9265518

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA was established to help its 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing 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 through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

#Ourfishourfuture #tuna #forumfisheries #fisheries2019 #ourmoanaourfish

PRESS RELEASE: ‘AUSTRALIAN CHIEF OF DEFENCE FORCE VISIT TO FFA, A REMINDER OF THE POWER OF COOPERATION,’ FFA DG

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HONIARA, 25 January 2019 — The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency yesterday welcomed the highest ranking military official from Australia, General Angus Campbell.

“The visit by Australian Chief of Defence Force, General Angus Campbell and his team is a reminder of the power of cooperation and is the platform upon which we enjoy excellent relations between FFA and Australia,” said FFA Director General, Dr. Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen.

“It is our Pacific way and it is the only way that we can achieve a safe, stable and prosperous region.”

The visit provided an opportunity for DG Dr. Tupou-Roosen to update the team on the work of FFA, highlight the successful areas of collaboration with Australia, and discuss further areas for close work.

General Campbell underlined the importance of FFA to the regional architecture and the future of the Pacific. He also emphasised the ‘whole-of-community value’ in the sharing of information and expressed his commitment to promoting this.

Dr Tupou-Roosen sincerely thanked him for the successful partnership between Australia and FFA which includes the funds and assistance to FFA members in areas such as the aerial surveillance, patrol boat programme, the Niue Treaty Multilateral Subsidiary Arrangement (NTSA), Persons of Interest; and secondment of defence personnel at FFA.

General Campbell was accompanied by Australian Federal Police Commissioner- Andrew Colvin, Border Force Commissioner – Michael Outram, DG Australian Security Intelligence Organisation –  Duncan Lewis, Department of Defence Director General Pacific and Timor Leste International Policy Division and Chief of Operations Maritime Border Command – Jake Campbell and DA Wing Commander – Jonathon Durden.

### ENDS

For more information, please contact Donna Hoerder, donna.hoerder@ffa.int, ph: +679 9265 518

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA was established to help their 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing 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 through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int

Pacific fisheries leaders highlight Tuna Commission action

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Honolulu 14 December 2018 — Pacific Islands fisheries leaders expressed satisfaction with the actions taken this week by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to support sustainability of the fishery, minimum labor standards for fishing crews, and expanded participation of Small Island Developing States in the work of the Commission.

A compromise worked out late on Friday, the last day of the annual meeting, allowed for extension of important provisions of the Tropical Tuna Measure that is essential to sustainable management of the tuna fishery, said Forum Fisheries Agency Director General Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Ludwig Kumoru.

This includes continuation of provisions for a three-month prohibition on use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) by purse seiners in exclusive economic zones and high seas areas between 20°N and 20°S from July 1-September 30, and an additional two-month prohibition on FAD use on the high seas. By consensus, these FAD closures were extended for an additional two-year period, through the end of 2020.

As part of the compromise, PNA members agreed to compromise language regarding the definition of FAD sets in 2019 and agreed to work with others on this broader issue.

“We’re really pleased with the outcomes from this Commission meeting,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

“We came into this week’s meeting with the position to maintain the strength of the existing tropical tuna measure — and this is what we accomplished.”

Mr. Kumoru agreed. “FAD closures are an important conservation action that reduces catch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna,” Mr. Kumoru said. “Maintaining the FAD closures is contributing to sustainably managing our tuna stocks.”

Several other actions of significance were endorsed by the WCPFC this week, including:

  • The adoption of the South Pacific albacore Interim Target Reference Point. “This is a milestone for the management of the South Pacific albacore fishery,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.
  • The adoption of minimum labor standards for crew on fishing vessels. “FFA Members continue to lead by setting the standards for responsible fishing in all respects,” Dr. Tupou-Roosen said, adding that this is the first tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organization to take this critical step for addressing labor standards for crew on board fishing vessels.
  • The decision for a 2019 review of the WCPFC transshipment measure originally adopted in 2009. “This review is critical to addressing the challenge of shortfalls in information from high seas transshipment activities, particularly on longline vessels,” said Mr. Kumoru.
  • The decision to provide compulsory funds to the Special Requirements Fund, which will help boost participation of Small Island Development State representatives in the decision-making processes of the Commission.
  • The adoption of a measure for the Compliance Monitoring Scheme. This will allow for continued monitoring and assessment of compliance by all Commission Members with the Commission’s obligations. “Doing this in a manner where it is effective, efficient and fair improves implementation of measures,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “The measure adopted provides a solid basis to ensure this as part of our future work.”

Mr. Kumoru pointed out that in taking actions like adopting a resolution for minimum labor standards and agreeing to a review of high seas transshipments, the WCPFC is playing an important role in addressing a wide-range of issues affecting the fishery.

“We are promoting action in support of human rights for fishers working in our fishery and that go to addressing concerns about trafficking in people and other illicit activities,” said Mr. Kumoru.

Both credited the success of this week’s work to the tireless efforts of the Pacific Island delegates to the meeting.

“The solid outcomes are the result of the hard work, patience and tenacity of the FFA and PNA member delegations with valuable support from Ministers present, and the excellent cooperation they received from our key partners,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen and Mr. Kumoru.

They also specially recognised the very able leadership of outgoing Chair Ms. Rhea Moss-Christian. “Ms. Moss-Christian’s steady hand, passion and commitment in steering the work of the Commission in the past four years has contributed immensely to advancing the Commission’s work.”

For more information on the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, contact Mr. Ludwig Kumoru, CEO, PNA Office, on email: ludwig@pnatuna.com, or ring PNA media coordinator Giff Johnson at (808) 699-1690 to arrange interviews with the PNA CEO.

For more information on the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, contact Hugh Walton on email: hugh.walton@ffa.int.

High seas transshipments of tuna targeted for action

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Honolulu 13 December 2018 — Pacific Island fisheries leaders want the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to effectively address a serious management gap in the tuna fishery: high seas tuna transshipments.

  The existing Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) measure governing transshipment was adopted in 2009 and is intended for review next year. 

  Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members, including the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) bloc, want to see a WCPFC review process that is comprehensive and results in significant strengthening of the current measure.

   Ina letter last month to WCPFC Executive Director Feleti Teo, Forum Fisheries Committee Chairperson Tepaeru Herrmann expressed the concern of FFA members that insufficient regulation, monitoring and reporting of tuna transshipment, particularly on the high seas, was contributing to distort the reporting of catches.

  Ms. Herrmann said the current system of unmonitored transshipments on the high seas also exposed WCPFC members, cooperating non-members and participating territories (known as CCMs), and the wider Pacific region, to increased risks of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and transnational criminal activity.    

   Subject to not infringing on the right of CCMs to regulate transshipment occurring in areas under national jurisdiction, the WCPFC has a responsibility to effectively regulate transshipment activities to address these risks, she said.

  The aim of FFA members is to see all transshipments in the WCPFC area occurring in port. The FFA’s position is consistent with Article 29 of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention which provides that “the members of the Commission shall encourage their vessels, to the extent practicable, to conduct transshipment in port.”

  The PNA already requires all purse seine vessels operating in their waters to transship tuna in ports, which allows for monitoring of catch and other compliance measures to be enforced. PNA is also gearing to implement a ban on high seas bunkering for fishing vessels by fuel tankers beginning in2020. Currently, however, only a fraction of longline vessels transship their tuna catches in the ports of FFA members.  

   The current level and regulation of high seas transshipment activity is inconsistent with the objective of the WCPF Convention, said FFA Director General Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen and PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru in comments Thursday during the ongoing annual meeting of the WCPFC in Honolulu.

   Under the current WCPFC measure, there is to be no transshipment on the high seas except where a CCM has determined it is impracticable for its vessels to operate without being able to transship on the high seas. The measure requires CCMs to inform the WCPFC of any of their vessels transshipping on the high seas.

   The WCPFC measure requires a declaration prior to transshipping on the high seas, and a report after the operation is completed. A Final Compliance Monitoring Review report,which will address compliance with these and other provisions of the measure,is to be issued as part of the review of the 2009 measure scheduled for next year.

    The basis for approving high seas transshipments is that prohibition would cause significant economic hardship to vessels. This would be assessed in terms of the costs incurred and if in-port transshipment would require the vessel to make significant and substantial changes to its historical mode of operation as a result of the prohibition of transshipment on the high seas.

   “There is no proper mechanism for review of the transshipment justification and there is a shortfall in compliance with WCPFC reporting provisions,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.“This situation is untenable and results in high risks that catch data is not accurately and effectively reported.”

  She said FFA members are anxious to see the review of this 2009 transshipment conservation and management measure undertaken with diligence and a focus on compliance.

   She also noted the initiatives of many members to roll out electronic monitoring systems on longline vessels as a means of improving coverage for a sector of the Pacific tuna fishery that is currently not well monitored.

   “In2013, FFA facilitated the first electronic monitoring trials for longline vessels in the region in collaboration with SPC and industry. This trial coupled electronic systems with human observers to compare data in the context of WCPFC observer requirements,” she said.

More recently, four members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement — Palau, FSM, Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands — have engaged in a trial of electronic monitoring of longline vessels,using video cameras and training fisheries officers to use software programs to evaluate the film collected on longline vessels.

   “We need an outcome from this review (of the high seas transshipment measure) that properly addresses the reporting risks and results in the receipt of timely,complete and well-documented data from transshipment activity,” said Mr. Kumoru.

“Our position is to move as quickly as possible to a complete ban of all high seas transshipment. PNA already requires all purse seiners to transship their catch in port. We think all transshipments should take place in ports in our region. In-port transshipment generates economic benefits for our members as well as eliminating IUU and other risks inherent in unmonitored high seas transshipments.”

For more information on the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, contact Mr. Ludwig Kumoru, CEO, PNA Office, on email: ludwig@pnatuna.com,or ring PNA media coordinator Giff Johnson at (808) 699-1690 to arrange interviews with the PNA CEO.

For more information on the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, contact FFA media coordinator Donna Hoarder on email:donna,hoarder@ffa.int.

FFA, PNA combine to combat IUU fishing in the region

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Honolulu 7 December 2018 — Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is being targeted for elimination like never before following calls by Pacific Leaders for “action to end illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and associated activities.”

Earlier this year, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, who is also the current Chair of the Ministerial Forum Fisheries Committee, highlighted a key priority for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) “is concerted and strengthened collective approach to combating the continued threat of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”

In October, Marshall Islands President Dr. Hilda C. Heine again elevated the focus on IUU fishing by calling on Pacific nations and those fishing in the Pacific to strive to abolish IUU fishing within five years. “IUU activity has devastating consequences,” President 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.”

Pacific fisheries managers are using the momentum of calls from Leaders to ramp up work to mitigate IUU fishing, and FFA Senior Officials are meeting in Honolulu this week in advance of next week’s Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) annual meeting.

“The value of the Pacific fishery to individual Pacific Islanders and the economies of our 17 island members is enormous,” said Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen, Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). “This is motivating new initiatives in support of existing monitoring, control and surveillance programs to eliminate IUU fishing.”

“We have implemented a management system for the purse seiners through the vessel day scheme (VDS) that has greatly reduced opportunities for IUU activity in this fishery,” said Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) CEO Ludwig Kumoru. “Our requirement of 100 percent fisheries observer coverage on purse seiners and other measures is a big deterrent to illegal fishing.” Over 60 percent of the tuna caught in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean comes from the eight nation members of PNA.

“FFA and PNA monitoring, control and surveillance strategy is to develop and deploy game-changing applications in support of IUU mitigation,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “We’re leading the charge against IUU fishing,” said Mr. Kumoru.

But more work is needed and is in progress to combat IUU fishing, said the FFA Director General and the PNA CEO. A report on the impact of IUU fishing prepared for the FFA in 2016 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 particular, the FFA and PNA are calling for the support of distant water fishing nations, who are also members of the WCPFC, to eliminate IUU fishing. “We want them on board and to understand this is a collective effort of the FFA and PNA to implement a best practice strategy to effectively track and hold offenders accountable,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

At next week’s WCPFC meeting in Honolulu, the 17 FFA member countries, eight of whom are also members of the PNA, will be advocating strongly for the Commission to adopt an “IUU List” for 2019 to include three vessels that have previously been identified for IUU fishing in the region. FFA members have called on all Commission members “to actively work together to locate these vessels so that their illegal activities can be stopped,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.

In another important development, the FFA is progressing work on its “Persons of Interest Strategy” as a tool for combating IUU fishing. FFA members are working to develop the process for identifying the operators behind illegal fishing vessels in the region. “These are tools that will help us combat the IUU problem,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “The Persons of Interest Project will collect, analyze and share personal information on the people behind rogue vessels, such as the owners, the captains, and the fish masters in order to provide greater information to FFA member authorities that issue licenses and target monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) effort.”

Through FFA and PNA regional MCS efforts, national-level activity, and coordination with Australia, New Zealand, the United States and France, the region now has a layered and expanding network focused on identifying and preventing IUU fishing.

FFA operates the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Center based in the Solomon Islands, a unique monitoring and enforcement facility that coordinates MCS work through the 17-member network, including through deployment of two year-round dedicated surveillance aircraft.

Under PNA’s Fisheries Information Management System (FIMS), there are now 240 purse seine vessels in the FFA region using daily electronic reporting of catch logsheets. This real time reporting allows for daily monitoring of catch across the region. Similarly, Pacific Islands Regional Fisheries Observers are increasingly using electronic reporting for daily upload of data forms. When combined with each vessel’s electronic Vessel Monitoring System reporting of vessel location, this daily reporting from vessels and observers means fisheries administrations are increasingly able to undertake a more focused effort on data analysis as cumbersome and time-consuming paper-based data entry is being phased out, said Dr. Tupou-Roosen. “This allows for much improved analysis of possible IUU anomalies,” she added.

FFA through its Regional Fisheries Surveillance Center coordinates four large MCS operations annually, which provide coordinated regional surveillance. This integrates aerial and patrol ship support from the four FFA partners Australia, New Zealand, the United States and France, police and fisheries MCS personnel from all FFA member countries, a dedicated analytical hub and national patrol boat operations. These regional multilateral MCS operations resulted in the boarding of 743 fishing vessels from 2015-2018, resulting in 67 infringement actions issued by ship boarding personnel and 16 infringements issued by shore authorities.

Mr. Kumoru said IUU fishing continues to be a front-burner issue for Pacific Islands. “Eliminating IUU fishing is a core part of our fisheries management work and we look forward to support and participation from our partner nations and the fishing industry in this effort,” said Mr. Kumoru. “Working together to eliminate IUU will enhance sustainable and economically viable fisheries for the benefit of everyone.”

-For more information on the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, contact Mr. Ludwig Kumoru, CEO, PNA Office, on email: ludwig@pnatuna.com, or ring PNA media coordinator Giff Johnson at (808) 699-1690 to arrange interviews with the PNA CEO.

For more information on the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, contact FFA media coordinator Mr. Hugh Walton on email: hugh.walton@ffa.int.

FFA welcomes PNA participation in briefings pre-WCPFC

Categories @WCPFC15, News, Press ReleasesPosted on

Honolulu 3 December 2018 — Following the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) officials session Sunday, the Forum Fisheries Agency opened its four-day briefing Monday in Honolulu for fisheries officials in preparation for the upcoming Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting.

At the opening session for officials from the 17 member Pacific islands, FFA Director General Manu Tupou-Roosen welcomed PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru and PNA Office staff participation in briefing session.

“The PNA officials session Sunday and this week’s FFA briefing is an important part of our commitment to ensuring sustainable management of the fishery in the Pacific,” said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. He recognized Dr. Tupou-Roosen for ongoing collaboration between the FFA and PNA on the wide-array of fisheries management issues on which Pacific islands are engaged.

Mr. Kumoru made the point that these briefing sessions are essential for fisheries officials from the islands to effectively advocate for measures promoting sustainable management of fish stocks at the WCPFC. Mr. Kumoru noted, too, that the briefing sessions provide for discussion of the layers of detail that go into developing proposals and positions for “best practice” governance in the fishery.

“The FFA Director General reminded us that we are doing this work for the benefit of our people,” said Mr. Kumoru. “We are the resource owners. This is why we work together to promote effective measures at the WCPFC for sustainable management of our fisheries resources.”

Mr. Kumoru emphasized that ensuring tuna stocks remain healthy for the long term is the highest priority of the islands. This requires ongoing and effective conservation measures on both the high seas and in the exclusive economic zones of the islands, he said. “This is why the PNA and the FFA put so much effort into preparing for the WCPFC,” said Mr. Kumoru.

While zone-based management has been effective in maintaining purse seine fishing at sustainable levels, there continue to be challenges with the management of the longline sector, including on the high seas that need to be addressed by the WCPFC to ensure sustainable management of all tuna stocks, he said.

“There are many management issues we are working through this week in preparation for next week’s WCPFC annual meeting,” Mr. Kumoru said. “PNA members are part of the FFA membership. PNA may emphasize some issues over others, but we are on the same page with the FFA going into the WCPFC.”
The WCPFC annual meeting opens Monday December 10 and continues through Friday December 14 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.

NOTE:

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna (a popular tuna for canned products). The eight members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. Tokelau is a participating partner in implementing the Vessel Day Scheme together with the eight member nations.

PNA has been a champion for marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including closures of high seas pockets, seasonal bans on use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), satellite tracking of boats, in port transshipment, 100 percent observer coverage of purse seiners, closed areas for conservation, mesh size regulations, tuna catch retention requirements, hard limits on fishing effort, prohibitions against targeting whale sharks, shark action plans, and other conservation measures to protect the marine ecosystem.

For more information, contact Mr. Ludwig Kumoru, CEO, PNA Office, on email: ludwig@pnatuna.com, or ring PNA media coordinator Giff Johnson at (808) 699-1690 to arrange interviews with the PNA CEO.