#WCPFC15 POSTCARDS: BACK TO THE BREAD AND BUTTER ISSUES – Eugene Pangelinan, Executive Director, National Oceanic Resources Management Authority, FSM

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This is WCPFC 15, and it’s number 15 for me. That’s the nature of my job, like any other Fisheries manager here. It’s to make sure the decisions of the Commission are balanced and take into account our interests, not only as custodians of the resources but as development partners to this fishery so it’s important the measures here are effective and achieve long term goals. They should also create jobs and livelihoods and food security for our people.

Key highlights over those 15 years from where I sit? The biggest is the in-zone management regime, the Vessel Day Scheme. It’s transformed the fishery and our economic benefits to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement. The regional observer program is another of the key highlights. Those who are in these jobs are the unseen eyes and ears of our fishery in terms of compliance. We have a lot of young, dedicated people who make a lot of sacrifices to go out there and work under often difficult conditions and challenging reporting requirements.

And my third highlight is electronic monitoring. It’s the next stage for improving compliance and transparency, using tech to become more cost-effective, while doing a better job of managing the resources we have. That trend is only to improve as technology adapts and evolves with us.

At these commission meetings, negotiation is a key skill but it actually sits on a base of compromise, understanding and respect. Nothing annoys me more than people listening to us, saying they understand our situation, and then still going on to compare us to other Oceans. This is a totally different Ocean. We are the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, just look at the map. There are 17 member countries and territories. When you look at other Ocean areas, there is nothing there like us. So when people who participate in other Ocean forums come here and anticipate the same setting, it’s not. We are people. We are small Islands. We are affected, and our livelihoods, our futures depend on the health of these resources and the ocean they come from. So yes, at this 15th Commission, an ongoing message to all is that there is a need for mutual respect in this forum.

The measure that most needs to get across the line this week is obviously the Tropical Tuna Measure. It’s the bread and butter of this Commission and is a key objective of what we were established to do.  –ENDS

#WCPFC15 Postcards: BETWEEN OCEAN AND LAND- TUNA’s SEABIRD CONNECTION- Karen Baird, Oceania Regional Coordinator, Birdlife International

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What’s my Tuna Commission why? My passion for maritime advocacy comes from a love for albatrosses and seabirds. I grew up in a country where we have more seabirds than land birds! New Zealand is the seabird capital of the world. Even where I live in the Hauraki Gulf, we’ve got 25 species of seabirds, so spending time at sea, seeing these birds on the water, is just a wonderful experience. They basically live at sea, but of course have to come back to land to breed, so are vulnerable in both realms. We know that seabird populations are still being driven down by fisheries bycatch and one in particular — our Antipodean Albatross, will be extinct in 20 years if we can’t get better protection in this Commission. It’s why Seabirds are on the agenda this year.

This Commission meeting is  my seventh in this role for BirdLife. For somebody coming here for the first time, it might be confusing. There’s a lot happening, there’s all sorts of discussions and lots of side meetings. But it’s actually all about making connections with people.  Although people are here to represent their countries or their NGOs, at the end of the day, they are all just people, and they have the same sorts of ideas, passions, and concerns as everyone else. It’s just about trying to get everyone to agree on how to manage that.

Of all these commission meetings I have attended so far my favourite memory was attending a Commission meeting in the Marshall Islands. We went to a little island with a whole lot of the members, and enjoyed a picnic for the day. It just was a chance to talk to people on a normal, human level, and get to know them personally, to see these fisheries delegates as people first. To be out of a conference room, on the water in the very environment being talked about in the meeting, was just beautiful.//ENDS

#WCPFC15 Postcards: SWIMMING WITH THE FISH- Charleston (Charlie) Deiye, CEO Fisheries, Nauru

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This Tuna T-shirt? It started as a doodle, and it’s not a tuna.It’s something created while I listened to everyone during a meeting. I doodle away while I’m thinking about what’s being said. Sometimes it looks good, and sometimes it looks terrible.  In this case, someone walking past saw my doodling and asked to use it– and here’s how it worked out.

I can’t remember how many times I have come to the Tuna Commission. All I know is I’ve been in fisheries a long time. I started out with the Nauru department of Island Development. They had Fisheries under them. Then we developed it to become a department, and eventually it became an Authority. I’ve been through all these phases in senior positions, and now I’m the CEO.

It’s exciting in this field. You can see around the table or at the meetings you go to, that the same old people and faces are around, but that’s because for many of us, fisheries is all we do. And it must be because we like it. For me, I enjoy all the interaction between people who work across the industry, the fisheries managers, the decisions to be made in a place like this. It’s just quite exciting.

What makes WCPFC 15 stand out from the previous meetings? The Tropical Tuna Measure is very important. Some aspects of it are expiring, we need to maintain those and keep working on it, while some members want to change it and bring in amendments. I think we need to maintain and take care of it. It’s a delicate balance we’ve achieved with where it’s at and you don’t want to do anything to cause it to break up and fall apart.

At every meeting, the vibe depends on the people around you and where it’s being hosted. Depending on the agenda, it feels different every time, and it’s a new challenge every time.

I think if there’s one aspect of Tuna Commission I would love for our people to understand, it’s the amount of work involved in being here. There are different kinds of work you need to be up to date with, and so many levels. It’s not just about fishing, it’s about how you manage IUU, and all aspects of the fishery. It’s not just one thing, it’s many things. And when I see the amount of work people put in, it’s phenomenal. From the outside, people may think it’s a holiday destination so the work of fisheries management and the Tuna Commission must feel the same. But all I see is the work to be done, and the four walls around me from morning until night. It’s an exotic location from the outside, but all I see are four walls.

The future of fisheries will be in good hands the more we as Pacific nations are able to exercise control our tuna resources, because once we have that, the more economically viable the future gets. And where will I be in that future?

Right there- swimming with the fish. –ENDS

 

#WCPFC15 Postcards: CONSENSUS THROUGH COMPROMISE- Feleti Tulafono, Fisheries Director, Tokelau

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I’ve been working in Fisheries for seven years, and I think it’s mainly because of my interest in this work that I’m still here, at my fourth Tuna Commission. Don’t ask me what my big memories are of attending these meetings.
Every meeting is a recurring schedule, and the best part of it all for me every time is getting to know how deeply other Pacific Islands and distant water nations at the commission with us feel about the fishery we share, what they want from it, and how far they are prepared to go to get it.
From these Commission meetings, I learn just how much we are prepared to stand by our aspirations and priorities for our people. The hardest part of consensus is compromise. For me compromise at the Tuna Commission often means giving up and sacrificing benefits to your people, in the hope you can come to that common understanding. That’s where a negotiation has hope, on common ground between the different mindsets at the table. 
I started in Fisheries as a VMS Officer, then Licensing…and now I’m the Director for Fisheries. It’s a year of change for Fisheries as well. It’s been established as a stand alone entity with its own budget. I’m in my first year, and I hope it works out (laughs). 
Of all the Conservation and Management Measures here, the most important one for me is the Tropical Tuna Measure. It covers the species that are most important to us all. It’s our livelihood measure, it feeds the catches of our local fishermen, and it feeds our economic revenues for Tokelau. That’s why these small working groups are so important. It doesn’t matter how late it is at night. We have to be there and try to support each other. It’s about protecting our resources. ENDS

New Director General of Forum Fisheries Agency starts

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Congratulations Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, on her assumption of duties as the new Director-General of the Forum Fisheries Agency in Honiara   A milestone in the history of the FFA Secretariat in Honiara and its membership.
The Vision of the FFA is that “Our people will enjoy the highest levels of social and economic benefits through the sustainable use of our offshore fisheries resources”.

Tuna stock assessment training workshops in Noumea

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The participants at this week’s tuna stock assessment workshops held at the Pacific Community (SPC) offices in Noumea, New Caledonia.

The Oceanic Fisheries Management Project works with SPC to deliver annual stock-assessment training workshops.

The workshops, which have been run since 2006, aim to increase regional fisheries officers’ ability to:

  1. understand and interpret the results from the regional oceanic fisheries’ stock assessments
  2. communicate this information to fishery managers within their countries
  3. increase their confidence to participate in scientific discussions of the WCPFC – in particular, during meetings of its Scientific Committee.