At the core of their research is one of the elements at the heart of a heating planet: carbon.
By tracing two of the most abundant forms of carbon, the isotopes carbon-12 and carbon-13, they were able to show that a significant amount of global heating is caused by human activities rather than natural processes.
They also found that several other factors also influence the amount of different carbon isotopes in tuna.
Scientists find evidence of changes in the food chain
One of the most important happens at the start of the food chain, with a group of plankton known as phytoplankton, which use sunlight and carbon to make the energy they need.
The scientists showed that the abundance of different kinds of phytoplankton has changed in the past 15 years, directly as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. They also showed that the proportion of carbon-12 and carbon-13 available changes the kinds and abundance of phytoplankton. These changes don’t stop here, but alter the kinds and abundance of animals, including tuna, all the way up the food chain.
Numbers of some phytoplankton are shrinking, and this too is affecting the abundance and location of tuna.
The change in the balance of phytoplankton is made worse by another effect of climate change: ocean stratification. Surface and deep waters of oceans now mix less, and that fewer nutrients are stirred up and made available for plankton to consume.
The research also showed changes in how quickly phytoplankton grow.
The scientists traced two forms of carbon
The research involved scientists from several fields. Among them was Valérie Allain of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The scientists took 4,500 samples of muscle from albacore, bigeye and yellowfin tuna over 15 years, from 2000 to 2016, from the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. They found that changes were most pronounced in the Pacific Ocean.
They traced two forms of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-13. This is possible because each isotope each has a different weight and also behaves slightly differently.
Carbon is found naturally in living things, and in the air, land and water. It is also present in coal and oil, and when these burn, carbon-12 is released into the atmosphere.
More than 90% of atmospheric carbon is absorbed by the oceans. From there, it enters the food chain, being taken up by plankton and passed on to each predator up the chain, until it ends up in tuna, along with other forms of carbon such as carbon-13.
Reporting on their findings in the most recent issue of SPC’s Fisheries Newsletter, Valérie Allain and another researcher, Anne Lorrain, said that the data will be “of inestimable value” in projecting the effects of climate change on the health and quantity of seafood, and in validating modelling. This is because they collected so much data over such a long time and a very large geographical area.
Their research makes much more certain that humans do affect the environments and inhabitants of the open oceans.
conservation management measures (CMM) endorsed on the non-target species of mobulid rays and sharks
FFA summarises WCPFC16 outcomes for Pacific priorities
When Ms Jung-re Riley Kim, the Chair of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), officially closed its 16th annual meeting on Wednesday, Pacific officials finally relaxed and allowed themselves muted celebrations for a job well done.
Praise for major decisions made by WCPFC16
The Chair of the Pacific’s Forum Fisheries Committee, Mr Eugene Pangelinan, told regional journalists at the final media conference, “This is a very successful WCPFC16, and wonderful hosting by the people and government of Papua New Guinea and the National Fisheries Agency.”
“There’s been some very good outcomes, and the first one is the adoption of the climate-change resolution. From the FFA members’ perspective, that is one of the key priorities we wanted to get out of this meeting, given that one of the things our ministers tasked us to advocate for at the WCPFC was to address climate-change issues in relation to fisheries.”
He said another great outcome was the continuation of the Compliance Monitoring Scheme (CMS) for the next two years.
“The compliance scheme ensures members are held accountable to their obligations and goes a long way to ensuring sustainable fisheries management for the region,” Mr Pangelinan said.
Mr Bubba Cook of the World Wildlife Fund paid tribute to Pacific leadership at the meeting.
He said that the climate resolution “demonstrates that in two consecutive years we have seen a measure that’s been passed – crew welfare in 2018 and now climate change – that is reflective of the leadership in the Pacific island members. The [show a] willingness to take on the tough and challenging issues and provide solutions to those issues, so we are very encouraged by that motivation.”
The Director-General for FFA, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, added and re-emphasised the importance of the climate decision. She pointed out its valuable role as a “starting point to increase the focus of the Commission in this critical space so we look forward to that active work in this area with all Commission members”.
She acknowledged the work by Pacific countries as well as other Commission members, “underlining that no one achieves anything alone. Our members have worked really hard including with all Commission members to get to the point we’re at tonight.”
Dr Tupou-Roosen also highlighted positive outcomes for other species that get caught up indirectly as fishers chase the tuna harvest.
But some FFA priorities did not progress as well as hoped
But there were also a number of priority issues that did not progress as well as they should.
Mr Pangelinan said, “We were not able to agree on how we are going to proceed with the discussions in terms of the high-seas allocations. That’s something that has been somewhat watered down and now we are going to tackle it at the next WCPFC meeting.”
Mr Glen Holmes, international fisheries officer with Pew Charitable Trusts, praised the success of the rays CMM, but said that work on harvest strategies didn’t go far enough.
“We are very happy with the adoption of the mantas CMM. We think that was a big win for the Commission,” he said.
“But I think there was a very big missed opportunity for the Commission to establish a dedicated meeting for scientists and managers to meet to discuss the issues around harvest-management strategies to further progress that part of the Commission that will lead to a more sustainable management of the stocks into the future.”
Mr Bubba Cook expanded on perceived missed opportunities.
“We think there was some significant progress around a number of issues at the meeting, specifically around harvest-strategy development, but we also remain concerned that some of the measures were not quite as robust as they could have been, particularly for the sharks CMM.
“We have one of the most endangered stock of sharks here in the Pacific with the oceanic whitetip and there were a couple of provisions that would have gone a long way to help with sharks and ensure the long-term sustainability of those stocks. But at the same time there was a great amount of effort that went into the CMM for sharks and it reflects a lot of willingness to compromise around the table, and I certainly would like to acknowledge that as well.
“The manta and mobulid [rays] CMM was also a big step and we are certainly happy to see that move forward.”
Although there was no movement in the skipjack target reference point (TRP) negotiations that are important to members to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), there was no harm done, according to Chief Executive Officer for the PNA Office, Mr Ludwig Kumoru.
“Overall, we are happy with the outcome of this Commission meeting,” Mr Kumoru said.
“Our major objective was on the TRP. It may be seen as a push back, but for PNA it is still acceptable, we still have time to work on it. I think if we rushed it and got to a decision where we wouldn’t be comfortable then we would be in a very difficult position. So, we are comfortable with the outcome. The stock is not in the red; it is in the green we can still buy some time and look at ways to address it.”
Looking to the future
In summing up, Mr Pangelinan said, “The Commission has done very well in discussions about future tools that the Commission wants to use to improve monitoring. And two of those are electronic reporting and electronic monitoring. From the FFA perspective, these are important tools that will help fill the gaps in the data from fishing on the high seas in particular and the longline operations.
“So that is something that we also want to highlight: that adopting/agreeing to the objectives here, was a big step to progress the work of the Commission.”
FFA summary of WCPFC outcomes on Pacific priorities
Climate-change resolution – resolution adopted
WCPFC adopted a resolution on climate change based on the draft that was put forward by FFA members at the start of the meeting. This was a significant milestone for the Commission and a great success for FFA Members. The resolution responds to the call from Pacific Islands Forum leaders for increased attention, including in scientific research, to be placed on the impacts of climate change on the region’s highly migratory tuna stocks.
The non-binding resolution also looks at the links between fishing activity and climate change, and for the Commission to consider options to reduce the environmental impacts related to headquarters operations and meetings.
FFA members’ proposal to reform the WCPFC Compliance Monitoring Scheme was one of the hardest issues discussed at WCPFC16.
Cook Islands led the charge for FFA members and, after extensive negotiations, agreement was reached on the last day to a revised measure which focuses compliance monitoring on the implementation of measures by members rather than delving into the detail of individual cases involving fishing vessels that are the better dealt with through other mechanisms.
This was a significant achievement for FFA members, and should see the WCPFC compliance-monitoring process remain the strongest of all the tuna regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs). The measure agreed to applies for two years, giving time for additional work to take place on additional elements of the scheme including a refinement of audit points and the development of a risk-based framework.
South Pacific albacore – clear direction for roadmap in 2020
There were two informal meetings, chaired by Fiji, of the small working group to discuss the way forward for South Pacific albacore tuna.
The terms of reference and the work plan for the South Pacific albacore roadmap process were progressed, with a focus on rebuilding stock so that catch rates improve. This will assist in improving the economic viability of the fishery.
The roadmap group will hold two face-to-face meetings in 2020, in the margins of the Scientific Committee meeting in August and the Technical and Compliance Committee meeting in September. This should ensure good progress is made before the Commission considers a revised measure in December 2020.
High-seas limits and allocation – two extra days for WCPFC17
While there was general agreement to the proposal from FFA for the WCPFC to hold a two-day workshop to discuss high-seas limits and a framework for allocating those limits, agreement could not be reached on the terms of reference for a workshop. This highlighted how difficult it is going to be reach agreement on allocation within the Commission, especially since allocation decisions can only be taken by consensus. In the end, WCPFC16 agreed to extend the next annual meeting by two days so that time could be devoted to this issue.
Transhipment – slow progress in the intercessional working group
The Transhipment Intersessional Working Group (IWG), co-chaired by RMI and US, made some good progress, but further work remains to finalise the scope of work for a study to identify weaknesses in the existing measure.
A small number of fishing nations remained concerned about the information that would be made available to conduct the study, and this has unfortunately delayed the process. The IWG will continue its work electronically, with the aim of finalising the scope of work as soon as possible.
Mobulid rays conservation and management measure – new measure adopted
FFA members proposed the draft conservation and management measure (CMM) for mobulid rays (such as manta rays), and this was adopted by the Commission following constructive engagement by Commission members. The measure will come into effect in 2021, to allow Commission members time to promulgate the measure with their fishing industries.
Consolidated sharks CMM
After two years of lengthy negotiations, chaired by Japan, a comprehensive measure on sharks was finally agreed. The new measure rationalises and streamlines reporting that was previously spread across a number of different CMMs. There was also some strengthening of the standards around requirements that fins remain naturally attached to shark carcasses with simplification of alternative measures to ensure that they can be monitored and enforced.
PORT MORESBY – The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) is taking a step towards prioritising climate-change considerations in its policy.
It has adopted a Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) resolution to consider impacts of climate change on tuna stocks, food security and livelihoods.
The resolution was adopted on the final day of the annual Tuna Commission meeting.
Under the resolution, the Commission will consider climate change when developing conservation and management measures (CMMs), and support more investigation of the issue by the organisation’s scientists.
The Director-General of the FFA, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said it established a “solid foundation for a more urgent approach to the threat of climate change”.
Although the resolution is not binding, she said the Tuna Commission acknowledged that climate change would impact fisheries.
FFA chair Mr Eugene Pangelinan said the adoption of the resolution by the Commission sent a “powerful message globally that it is stepping up to the challenge”.
PORT MORESBY, 11 December 2019 – A landmark Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) resolution on climate change has been adopted by the 16th annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), creating a platform for a more urgent response to global warming by the world’s largest tuna fisheries organisation.
The resolution (see below) means the WCPFC will now more closely consider the impact of climate change on migratory fish stocks, food security and livelihoods in the Commission’s Convention Area, as well as the implications for fishing activities.
The effects on small island developing states (SIDS) will be a particular focus.
The resolution was passed today during the final hours of WCPFC16. It also means the WCPFC will take account of climate change when developing conservation and management measures and support more investigation of the issue by Commission scientists.
Additionally, the adopted resolution requires the WCPFC to consider how it can reduce the environmental impacts of its operations.
FFA Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said FFA members were extremely pleased to see the resolution adopted, given the particular vulnerability of Pacific island countries to climate change.
“From the perspective of FFA members, the adoption of this resolution is a key development,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.
“It establishes a solid foundation for a more urgent approach to the threat of climate change, and not a moment too soon. While the resolution is non-binding, it will underpin momentum on this critical issue.”
FFC Chair Mr Eugene Pangelinan said, “As responsible fisheries managers, we have a part to play in addressing climate change, and the WCPFC’s willingness to endorse this resolution will send a powerful message globally that it is stepping up to the challenge.”
He added that the focus in the resolution on assessing the impact of climate change on SIDS was particularly pleasing.
“We came into WCPFC16 lobbying for Commission members to consult more comprehensively with SIDS. The special reference in the adopted resolution to SIDS shows that our concerns are being heard. There’s a long way to go, but this resolution is a good starting point.”
FFA resolution on climate change: media backgrounder
The text below is the wording of the resolution FFA put to WCPFC16.
Resolution on climate change as it relates to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
The Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean,
RECOGNISING international initiatives to address the impacts of climate change including through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;
NOTING the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change;
MINDFUL of the work of the Scientific Services Provider to the Commission in assessing the impacts of climate change on target stocks and non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent or associated with the target stocks in the Convention Area;
NOTING that Pacific Islands Forum Leaders reaffirmed at their meeting in August 2019 that climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and their commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement;
FURTHER NOTING the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now made by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in August 2019;
NOTING the importance of addressing the potential impacts of climate change and other environmental degradation on target stocks, non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent or associated with the target stocks in the Convention Area;
NOTING the objective of the Convention to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean in accordance with the 1982 Convention and the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement;
Consider the potential impacts of climate change on highly migratory fish stocks in the Convention Area and any related impacts on the economies of CCMs and food security and livelihoods of their people, in particular Small Islands Developing States and Participating Territories.
Support further development of science on the relationship between climate change and target stocks, non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent on or associated with the target stocks, as well as interrelationships with other factors that affect these stocks and species, and estimates of the associated uncertainties.
Take into account in its deliberations, including in the development of conservation and management measures, scientific information available from the Scientific Committee on the potential impacts of climate change on target stocks, non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent on or associated with the target stocks.
Consider how climate change and fishing activities may be related and address any potential impacts in a manner consistent with the Convention
Consider options to reduce the environmental impacts of the Commission related to headquarters operation and meetings of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies.
For media enquiries, contact Tevita Tupou, +675 7333 9945
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) today adopted a landmark Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) resolution that takes into account the impacts of climate change on tuna stocks, food security and livelihoods, and the implications for fishing activities.
The resolution, which was adopted on the final day of the 16th annual WCPFC meeting, will also mean that members are to consider climate change when developing conservation and management measures, and supports more investigation of the issue by Tuna Commission scientists.
The Director-General of FFA, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said, “From the perspective of the FFA members, the adoption of this resolution is a key development.
She said it “establishes a solid foundation for a more urgent approach to the threat of climate change”.
Although the resolution is not binding, Dr Tupou-Roosen said the Tuna Commission’s move acknowledged that climate change is an issue that will impact fisheries.
FFC Chair Mr Eugene Pangelinan said the WCPFC, with the adoption of the resolution, was sending a “powerful message globally that it is stepping up to the challenge”.
For Pacific nations, “climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security, and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and their commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement”.
Mr Pangelinan said there work still needs to be done to address the impact of climate change to fisheries, but the adoption of the resolution a good “starting point that the concerns of the small island developing states (SIDS) are being heard”.
Scientists said that by 2050, under the scenario of a world living with high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, “a movement of a greater proportion of the tuna caught by purse-seine into the high-seas area”.
Redistribution of tuna could also reduce the combined annual fishing license revenues received by the Pacific islands by more than US$60 million, according to the scientists.
At WCPFC16 … FFA Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen (left), FFC Chair Mr Eugene Pangelinan (centre) and PNA Chief Executive Mr Ludwig Kumoru. Photo: F. Tauafiafi.
Optimism on the push to adopt the climate-change resolution tabled by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
PNA supports climate resolution and calls for agreement to maritime boundaries.
The Tuna Commission negotiations enter the final day today with the Pacific country bloc optimistic of good outcomes on its priority issues.
The Director-General of FFA, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said, “We are feeling very positive at this stage. We are feeling confident, but you never know until the last day.”
Top of the priority list is the push to adopt a climate-change resolution that was tabled on the first day. Signs are encouraging as questions on the text initially focused on actions by members and the Secretariat, and have been successfully navigated in accordance with the mandate of the WCPFC. The formal discussions take place today.
Chair for the Pacific’s Forum Fisheries Committee, Mr Eugene Pangelinan, said, “I am a bit more optimistic than what I was on the very first day.”
“The initial discussions were somewhat concerning, but this is a negotiation and if we are to get an agreement we will need to exercise some flexibility. Given the Convention and the objectives of the WCPFC (Tuna Commission) and what we’re trying to achieve, this is turning out much better than I thought.”
Alignment with COP25 climate change outcomes
Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said of the big emitters and other member countries from outside the Pacific, that “they have been consulted here by our members and have been supportive of this resolution”.
“It has come down to drafting, making sure that what is included doesn’t undermine any national positions being put forward at the COP25 climate-change meeting in Madrid, Spain. So there is a real big effort to get this resolution through.”
Mr Pangelinan said that, if there agreement were reached on a final resolution today, “that would be a great outcome for FFA members in terms of getting special attention within the WCPFC effort about climate-change issues, and fisheries in particular”.
It will also support further development of the science in the area, allowing the Tuna Commission to make informed decisions on the impacts of climate change and how the it can respond to those impacts.
The members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) fully support the resolution and the need to address the impacts of sea-level rise on the maritime boundaries of Pacific countries.
The Chief Executive of PNA, Mr Ludwig Kumoru, said, “Climate change affects all of our members. Issues such as maritime boundaries come into play when you talk about climate change. For PNA, one of the issues that is not mentioned specifically is sea-level rise and how it affects the EEZ boundaries.”
The major potential impact of changes to maritime boundaries are economic.
“They would lose their economic means,” Mr Kumoru said. “That is why we are making sure that, through FFA, through the region, it goes through to the United Nations, that our boundaries are agreed. Then even if the Pacific islands disappear their boundaries are there and they still get money [earned] from within those boundaries.
“So, from that point of view and all other issues with climate change, PNA supports the climate change resolution.”
Other Pacific priorities on the table are:
skipjack target reference point (TRP), the revision of which is still to be agreed
high-seas limits and allocation
mobulid rays conservation and management measure (CMM)
Compliance Monitoring Scheme
The 16th annual meeting of WCPFC is expected to close today, Wednesday, 11 December.
Lealaiauloto Aigaletaule’ale’a F Tauafiafi’s participation and coverage at the WCPFC16 was made possible by the Forum Fisheries Agency, Pew Charitable Trusts, and GEF OFMP2 project.
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 decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management.
Members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
ABOUT WESTERN CENTRAL PACIFIC FISHERIES COMMISSION (WCPFC)
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention) which entered into force on 19 June 2004.
The WCPF Convention draws on many of the provisions of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement [UNFSA] while, at the same time, reflecting the special political, socio-economic, geographical and environmental characteristics of the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) region. The WCPFC Convention seeks to address problems in the management of high seas fisheries resulting from unregulated fishing, over-capitalization, excessive fleet capacity, vessel re-flagging to escape controls, insufficiently selective gear, unreliable databases and insufficient multilateral cooperation in respect to conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks.
The Commission supports three subsidiary bodies; the Scientific Committee, Technical and Compliance Committee, and the Northern Committee, that each meet once during each year. The meetings of the subsidiary bodies are followed by a full session of the Commission. The work of the Commission is assisted by a Finance and Administration Committee.
Members: Australia, China, Canada, Cook Islands, European Union, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, Vanuatu.
Participating territories: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna.
Cooperating non-members: Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Liberia, Thailand, Vietnam.
Short-tailed albatross with chicks … one of many species of albatross that face extinction, partly from getting hooked on fishing lines when following fishing vessels. Photo by Jlfutari at Wikipedia (English language version) [CC BY-SA 3.0].
PORT MORESBY, 10 December 2019 – The Western and Central Pacific Commission (WCPFC) on Monday adopted safe handling guidelines for seabirds, a measure that will help protect seabirds from dying when they are accidentally caught during fishing.
The Seabird Conservation and Management Measure that was adopted in 2018 (CMM 2018-03) was further supported with the Tuna Commission adopting supplementary non-binding guidelines for the safe handling and release of seabirds caught during fishing (known as bycatch).
According to WWF, bycatch in tuna longline fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) is one of the greatest threats to seabirds, particularly to albatrosses and petrels.
Although there is has been a conservation and management measure for seabirds since 2006, it is estimated that between 13,000 and 19,000 seabirds continue to be caught a year.
The guidelines received unanimous support from member and non-member states attending the 16th annual WCPFC meeting in Port Moresby.
The head of the New Zealand delegation to WCPFC16, Ms Heather Ward, told Pacific reporters here that the protection of seabirds is a priority for NZ, given the diversity of seabirds, particularly albatross and petrel species, around New Zealand in the area south of 25°S.
“New Zealand has the highest global diversity of albatross and petrel species in the world, with several species assessed as being at high or very high risk from commercial fisheries bycatch,” Ms Ward said.
“This is why the protection of seabirds is of great importance to New Zealand.”
She thanked the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) for its support in the adoption of the measure.
The measure is aimed at meeting the requirements of paragraph 11 of CMM 2018-03: to ensure that seabirds captured alive are released alive. When safe handling procedures are implemented, seabirds are more likely to survive.
Ms Ward said the advice has been tailored for the crews of fishing vessel and is available free in multiple languages. The guidelines are simple to follow, and the materials required to safely release seabirds (i.e. a towel or blanket, pliers, net, a box or bin, and gloves) are likely to be available on most longline vessels.
“We hope it will be possible for the WCPFC to adopt these guidelines under Agenda Item 8 as a further step towards the protection of vulnerable seabirds affected by longline fishing,” Ms Ward said.
WWF’s head of delegation to the WCPFC16, Mr Bubba Cook, noted in a media release that the adoption of the guidelines on how to remove hooks from seabirds, developed by the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), would lead to less harm to seabirds, especially at the southern end of the WCPO region across all WCPFC longline and other hook fisheries.
“While we are pleased that the WCPFC has taken the important step to implement these voluntary guidelines, we believe that they should be mandatory and subject to clear monitoring and compliance review,” he said.
This message was further enforced by the executive secretary of ACAP, Dr Christine Bogle, who noted that now that the measure is in place, the challenge will be to ensure compliance. ACAP has presented an observer statement to WCPFC16 (WCPFC16–2019–OP08).
“Arguably, the single most important action to reduce bycatch is to increase compliance in the proper use of existing seabird bycatch regulations, such as this CMM 2018-03,” Dr Bogle said.
As world leaders gather at COP25 in Spain for the latest round of climate change negotiations, fisheries leaders in the Pacific are voicing their concern that higher global temperatures will deprive the region of its lucrative tuna income.
Up to US$6 billion worth of tuna was caught in the Western and Central Pacific in 2018 but scientists warn that rising global temperatures will see tuna out move of the waters belong to many Pacific countries by 2050.
Dr Graham Pilling from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community said scientific modelling shows tuna moving eastwards, as a result of warmer temperatures.
“With most EEZ (exclusive economic zones) clustered in the west, as fish move east under climate change, they’ll move out onto high seas,” Dr Pilling said.
Fisheries leaders and experts are meeting in Papua New Guinea at the Western and Central Pacific Commission, where climate change has taken centre stage.
Dr Pilling said countries like Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands would see a reduction of tuna stocks in their waters while Tuvalu would initially benefit.
“In the long term however as surface tuna moves to the east, the main fishing areas are expected to move out of our EEZ,” Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Minute Alapati Taupo said.
Tuvalu’s Fisheries Minister said leaders should also consider the impact of rising seas levels on national boundaries, with some countries losing land.
“We suggest that the current arrangements are changed to prevent this injustice…this would of course mean that the boundaries of our EEZ are locked in and not changed as a result of climate change,” said Mr Taupo.
The Director General of Forum Fisheries Agency, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, said the concerns raised by Tuvalu are part of the work her organisation and regional agencies are working on.
This story was produced in collaboration with reporter Bernadette Carreon.
Fish migration due to climate change has impacted the supply of albacore tuna in Fiji, bringing the supply down and leading the Levuka factory of the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) to reduce its operations to a four-day work week to maintain economically viability.
Fiji’s government-owned PAFCO is looking for alternatives to maintain financial stability in light of the albacore tuna shortage. PAFCO chair Ikbal Jannif told local news organisation FBC that the shortage of albacore has been an ongoing issue, and for the tuna cannery to operate fully again there needs to be around 23,000 metric tons of albacore tuna to process.
The crisis has brought the supply down to 16,500 metric tons, impacting the economy of Levuka. PAFCO is the biggest employer of the cannery in Levuka, with 600 full-time workers and around 400 part-time workers.
To supplement the shortage, PAFCO last week bought in around 220 metric tons of skipjack tuna in lieu of albacore.
Fiji Fisheries Minister Mr Semi Koroilavesau, who has been in Port Moresby attending the 16th Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), highlighted climate change as impacting the supply and affecting the migratory pattern of the albacore tuna, which is more plentiful in other Pacific island countries.
Mr Koroilavesau said that discussions are being held with the neighbouring countries in the north to allow their fishers to access tuna resources in the high seas and in neighbouring exclusive economic zones (EEZs) at a lower fishing-day fee. This way, Fiji and PAFCO will have enough resources to keep the cannery in operation and avoid further cuts in working days, the minister added.
Fiji fisheries officials have taken opportunity to urge a concession and reduced price for fishing days to enable PAFCO to fish in the waters of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), specifically in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Kiribati. The PNA group controls waters in which more than 50% of the world’s biggest tuna canning species – skipjack – is caught.
“Possibly give us some preferential fee, because we have come back on Fiji. That is the angle we are taking, we are looking into friendly relations that we have with our northern neighbours, we ask them to give us leeway,” Mr Koroilavesau told SeafoodSource.
Under the PNA’s vessel day scheme (VDS), a benchmark of US$8,000 (AU$11,726, €7,233) up to US$25,000 (AU$36,182, €22,295) is charged per fishing day.
Mr Koroilavesau said Fiji wouldn’t want to be charged the high fee that PNA imposes on international fleets, given a shortage of fish in the EEZ.
He added that, due to warming ocean waters, the fish have migrated to the east, benefiting Tuvalu and Kiribati, while Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji “have very little”.
Mr Koroilavesau said the primary aim was to increase the tuna supply for processing, and an alternative was to negotiate arrangements with other nations in the Pacific.
Pacific fisheries officials are calling on the members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to band together and commit to a climate action plan during the commission’s 16th annual meeting.
Any plan needs to take into account the impact of climate change on fish stocks.
In a statement ahead of the week-long Tuna Commission meeting here in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, the 17-member Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is “therefore calling on the WCPFC to collectively take stronger action on climate change”.
FFA introduced a resolution at the WCPFC urging the commission to:
Fully recognise the impacts of climate change, in particular on the fisheries, food security and livelihoods of small island developing states (SIDS) and territories.
Take into account in its deliberations, including in the development of conservation and management measures, the impacts of climate change on target stocks, non-target species, and species belonging to the same ecosystem or dependent on or associated with the target stocks.
Estimate the carbon footprint of fishing and related activities in the Convention Area for fish stocks managed by the Commission, and develop appropriate measures to reduce such footprint.
Develop options such as carbon offsets to decrease the collective carbon footprint of CCMs and the WCPFC Secretariat associated with meetings of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies.
Tuvalu Minister of Fisheries and Trade Mr Minute Alapati Taupo told Pacific journalists that although climate change was not a problem that his nation had caused, the impacts of climate change would fall on the Pacific, and would threaten the benefits of the region’s tuna fisheries.
“Climate change is not a problem that Tuvalu has caused – but we are going to suffer the effects,” Mr Taupo said.
Pacific Community (SPC) fisheries scientist Dr Graham Pilling said climate modelling shows that, as the climate warms, tuna will move to the east and while some Pacific island nations may benefit from the movement, the others will see a reduction in the fish.
He said it further indicates that fish “will move to the high seas and the overall amount of fish will reduce”.
Dr Pilling said that the major impacts of climate change “are predicted to occur after 2050, with some signs before that time”.
FFA Director-General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said climate change is an important issue that the Pacific islands face at the moment and into the future.
“Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation and the impact on Pacific Island countries is particularly threatening, given that tuna fisheries provide significant economic, social and cultural benefits,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said in a statement flagging FFA’s concerns before WCPFC16.
Tuna fishing brings in multiple billions of dollars in revenue for the Pacific island nations. According to the SPC policy brief, tuna caught in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) averaged 2.7 million tonnes a year between 2014 and 2018, with harvests from the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the Pacific nations representing 58% of this catch.
According to FFA, in 2018 the value of the provisional total tuna catch was US$6.01 billion (AU$8.92 billion, €5.41 billion), which was marginally higher than for 2017 and the highest since 2013.