Tuna Commission ended with positive measures in place

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The Western Central and Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) ended on a positive note with several measures that will ensure that tuna stocks continue to be in a healthy state, earning praise from the Pacific nations and environmental groups.

On Friday night’s conclusion of the meeting, the 26-member WCPFC under the tutelage of outgoing chair Rhea Moss–Christian agreed to the adoption of the South Pacific albacore Interim Target Reference Point (TRP).

South Pacific albacore is the main commercial species for many small island countries in temperate waters. Currently stocks sit at 52 per cent of original spawning biomass. The target reference point has been set at 56 per cent of original spawning biomass. This is not the 60 per cent sought by the Forum Fisheries Agency countries to facilitate a return to profitability for their local fishing industry but is seen by them as a very welcome step forward.

The Commission also agreed to the extension of elements of the tropical tuna measure due to expire at the end of this year, for two years.

The tropical tuna measure regulates fishing on bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tuna, which make up the vast majority of the Western and Central Pacific catch.

The Commission rejected the proposal of United States to increase its bigeye catch limits for its Hawaii-based longline fleet and to increase its days for purse seine fishing on the high seas.

As part of extending the tropical tuna measure the commission agreed to proposals to increase 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 through until the end of 2020.

The commission also adopted:

  •   A resolution on ‘Labour Standards for Crew on Fishing Vessels’
  • A plan to review the WCPFC transshipment measure originally adopted in 2009 next year. “This review is critical to addressing the challenge of shortfalls in information from high seas transshipment activities, particularly on longline vessels,”
  • A measure to provide additional 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.
  • A new measure for the Compliance Monitoring Scheme. This will allow for continued monitoring and assessment of compliance by all Commission Members
  •  Measures to better protect seabirds from accidental catch by the longline fleet

No consensus or agreement has been made on shark management.

“It is really pleasing to me because we ended up agreeing on the Target Reference Point for albacore,” Tonga’s Minister of Fisheries Semisi Fakahau said of the outcome of the meeting.

The adoption of a TRP for south Pacific albacore was hailed as a success by Pacific nations.

“This is milestone for the management of the South Pacific albacore fishery,” Dr. Tupou-Roosen, Director General of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency said.

”The setting of a Target Reference Point is something we had been advocating for a number of years now so to have been able to have the Commission agree on that was particularly significant,” said Tepaeru Herrmann, chair of the FFA’s governing body the Forum Fisheries Committee on behalf of all FFA members.

ON the tropical tuna measure Tupou-Roosensaid: “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.

“FAD closures are an important conservation action that reduces catch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna,” said Ludwig Kumoru CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement.

“Maintaining the FAD closures is contributing to sustainably managing our tuna stock,” he added.

The adoption of the resolution on Labor standards delighted Pacific delegates and human rights groups.

“FFA Members continue to lead by setting the standards for responsible fishing in all respects,” Dr. Tupou-Roosen said, adding that the WCPFC is the first Regional Fisheries Management Organisation to take this critical step for to improve conditions for crew and observers on board fishing vessels.

Outgoing WCPFC  Chair, Rhea Moss-Christian said: “Members agreed …on the measures that were adopted in Manila last year. We adopted measures in Manila anticipating a positive result on the additional bigeye stock assessment. We got that positive stock assessment result. We continued the measures as they are so essential, we maintained status quo.”

PEW Officer on Global Tuna, Dave Gershman said:  “PEW is pleased that the Commission took a positive step toward ensuring the health of bigeye tuna by agreeing not to weaken its conservation measures.

PEW encouraged the Commission to use the breathing space until 2020 to develop its long-term harvest strategy for bigeye.

The United States delegation was asked for comment but was unavailable.

“Regrettably, the USA HOD is not able to comment on the WCPFC15 outcomes this evening,”  a spokesperson wrote in an email.

Next year’s WCPFC will be in PNG and the new Chair Korean, Jun-re Riley Kim will lead the Commission.

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.

Livelihoods on the line as Pacific nations unite to fight for albacore tuna industry

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WCPFC15, Honolulu, Hawaii, 12 December 2018— Albacore tuna is a vital resource for many Pacific nations but many domestic longline interests are being scuttled out of business by a growing foreign fleet and the failure of the rule-setting body –the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to act.

This week, a few words in a one-year old document will aim to claw back faith and test the credibility of the WCPFC, the world’s most successful tuna fisheries management organisation.

Last year at their closing plenary, the WCPFC, made progress on several years of discussion with an interim harvest strategy for South Pacific albacore putting the onus on an outcomes text saying the Hawaii meeting taking place this week “shall adopt a Target Reference Point for South Pacific albacore.”

The target reference point (TRP) – a notional ideal stock level – is the essential first step on which all other harvest rules rely.

The promise to set a TRP at WCPFC15 for one of the most negotiated tuna stocks in the Western Central Pacific Ocean, is set to roll out in earnest today, as the clock ticks towards the final plenary on Friday evening.

To ensure the momentum from last year’s meeting in Manila wouldn’t be lost, the WCPFC14 setup a working group with New Zealand at the helm to steer interested countries towards effective engagement on that agenda item.   

Outgoing Chair of the WCPFC Rhea Moss-Christian is keen to ensure the promise of Manila is met, but her challenge is to extract consensus from a diverse group of nations with widely differing interests – a group that includes powerful distant water fishing nations as well as coastal states.

The determination and commitment of Forum Fisheries Committee members around the table, including Ministers from Samoa, Tonga, and Niue, was clear in their opening round of country statements.

Samoa’s Minister for Fisheries Afioga Lopao’o Natanielu Mua reiterated a call he made 12 months before in Manila, to the same stakeholders.

“It’s the target species for our domestic Longline fishery, that has been one of the main foreign revenue earners for our economy as well as supporting food security and livelihoods for our people,” the Minister said. He also made pointed mention of  “the uneven playing field due to the subsidy support received by some fleets and therefore [the need for] an appropriate management strategy …to ensure that domestic, unsubsidised fleets remain economically viable.”

Alongside Mua are other high-level Pacific leaders in the countries most affected by the current approaches which are threatening incomes, food sources, and the long-term future of domestic longline fleets.  The voices from Pacific nations most connected to Albacore are pitching the message at every opportunity that the Target Reference Point for South Pacific Albacore is a major part of the reasons bringing them to the Tuna Commission meeting.

Niue’s Fisheries Minister Dalton Tagalagi echoed the sentiments of his neighbourhood—South Pacific Albacore needs that target reference point to get moving on its harvest strategy.

He reminded the plenary of the shared responsibility from members to ensure fisheries are managed sustainably. 

“We believe that we can all share and successfully manage this vital fishery if we honestly negotiate in good faith and transparently” he said.

Acknowledging the ongoing talks since 2015 to get traction on a strengthened conservation and management measure for South Pacific albacore, Tonga’s Minister for Fisheries Semisi Fakahau told the Commission that Tonga is committed to working with all members and fishing partners to support adoption of the target reference point for South Pacific Albacore. 

 “In order to maintain the long-term sustainability and economic viability of the tuna fisheries in the WCPO, and to secure livelihoods for local fishermen, it is important that stronger and more effective fisheries management arrangements for migratory tuna stocks and other species are agreed at this meeting.”

Kiribati Fisheries Minister Tetabo Nakara hinted that the conversations towards locking down the reference point won’t be easy.  He noted during his country statement that: “there are agenda items that may polarise our collective approach, and when those agenda items are considered I would mutually call on us all to put aside our differences and to humbly approach those issues as one group in one voice with one amicable solution agreeable to us all.”

Presenting the position of the 17-member FFA bloc to the commission, FFC Chair Tepaeru Herrmann of the Cook Islands opened with the reminder that the Target Reference Point talks holds no surprises; it’s the fourth year in a row the FFA have proposed this move.

“As we’ve stated previously, it is critical to adopt a Target Reference Point so that we can start to manage this fishery…. we have come prepared to work in the spirit of good faith upon which that decision was taken to ensure that we adopt a meaningful Target Reference Point here.” 

When it comes to the time needed to reach a meaningful number, the devil will be working through the detail. The WCPFC Secretariat and SPC’s Oceanic Fisheries Program have provided an Information paper on trends in the Southern Albacore Fishery, revealing a 2017 peak in annual catch estimates for albacore in the south Pacific (south of the equator) of 92,989 metric tonnes, 98% of that by long liners and the remainder by trolling. With both fishing gears, the 2017 catch is upon the previous year – 29% higher for long liners, and 12% higher for trollers.

By comparison, the 2017 total albacore catch in the South Pacific was 72,272 mt and the longline catch within the southern part of the Western and Central Pacific Commission area — excluding archipelago waters — 69,688 mt, one of the highest in the last 10 years. High seas longline catch estimates represent 51% of the total and have ranged from 27-51% of the total over the last 10 years. By flag (or attributed nationality based on charter agreements), China and Chinese Taipei had the highest catch estimates of South Pacific albacore in 2017 (29,125 mt and 12,086 mt respectively), and together represent 59% of the total catch. 70% of their catch was taken on the high seas.

Science updates on effort warn there is ‘considerable uncertainty in 2017 effort estimates, mostly due to gaps in information and data.’ The number of deployed hooks in 2017 within the commission area south of 10 degrees south was 30% higher than in 2016, and 13% lower than the high seen in 2012. The estimated longline effort in this region was estimated at 277 million hooks in 2017.

Representatives of the Pacific tuna industry are pushing hard for action on albacore at this year’s WCPFC15 in the margins of the meeting and from the floor.

“Nobody can deny the perilous state of this fishery,”John Maefiti, Executive Officer of the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association said in an intervention in the WCPFC plenary yesterday.

“Catch rates simply cannot support current costs (for Pacific operators), leaving many companies on the brink of financial failure.

“We are fortunate that the Southern Pacific Albacore is biologically healthy, but the key to economic viability of a fishery is the catch per unit effort, or CPUE.  We have observed a continually declining CPUE over several years, diminishing what was once a robust and attractive fishery to a shadow of itself. The inability of the WCPFC to control a massive increase in High Seas fishing effort is a sad indictment about this commission’s ability to manage the fisheries under its charge,” Maefiti said.

The Pacific fishing industry has joined the Forum Fisheries Agency and its member governments in calling on WCPFC to take heed of advice from its Science Committee and to ensure the long-term commercial viability and sustainability of the Pacific’s southern longline fishery.

Given the scale of detail and information on the Target Reference Point for South Pacific Albacore and other inter-related issues such as the domination of the southern albacore fishery by China and Taiwan, there are real concerns that discussions will get bogged down once again. This would mean seeing the time window for a decision close for another year.

FFA’s new Director General and her team will be as keen as the high-level heads of Pacific delegations and the outgoing WCPFC Chair to ensure that doesn’t happen and South Pacific Albacore gets the Target Reference Point the commission has promised. But with only a few days to go and other high priority issues including the Tropical Tuna Measure for Skipjack, Yellowfin and Bigeye; Compliance Surveillance, and Monitoring; and Transhipment, another late night/early morning finish may well be on the cards for WCPFC15.    —Lisa W-Lahari / TUNApacific

FFA push for Tropical Tuna measure to be maintained: WCPFC negotiations reach a critical stage

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HONOLULU, 13 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—– Members of the 17-nation Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) will push for the Tropical Tuna measure adopted at last year’s meeting to be maintained and will not take the fight lying down if any moves are made to weaken the measures.

That’s the blunt message from FFA Director General, Dr Manu Tupou Roosen, saying the region solidarity on the issue remains.

The Tropical Tuna Measure, which regulates a catch worth US$4.5 billion, is a three-year agreement.

It is designed to ensure skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks are maintained at recent average levels and capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.

It has come under challenge from a United States proposal to allow its Hawaii-based longline fleet to increase its catch limits in recognition of their better than average monitoring of their fleet’s activities.

The FFA and Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) have a joint position for the Tropical Tuna Measure that they will not allow for an increase in the catch.

In the opening session of the WCPFC Pacific ministers and Delegation Heads demonstrated that solidarity with one after another calling for support for FFA positions going into WCPFC and for no weakening of the tropical tuna measure.

Cook Islands Head of Delegation, Tepaeru Herrmann, speaking as Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee on behalf of all FFA nations, reminded members that at the very first meeting of the Commission in the same conference centre in Honolulu they had agreed to some important principles.

“At that first meeting, we reached a common understanding on the need for sustainable development of the tuna resources of ou rregion, the importance of fishing responsibly, the importance of effective enforcement, and the need for effective cooperation between us. 

“Those were our founding motivations as a collective and from which we must draw inspiration from this week in our deliberations,” she said.

On the tropical tuna measure Herrmann said: ”This is currently a well-balanced measure which we all worked very hard to develop and adopt.  Therefore, our position is to maintain the strength of this measure and not weaken the delicate balance in its existing provisions.” 

Over the past two years more sophisticated ways of assessing fish stocks has led to an easing of concerns that bigeye tuna, in particular, had reached critically low levels.

Despite the improved assessment advice from WCPFC’s Scientific Committee remains that as a precautionary approach fishing mortality on bigeye should not be increased from the recent average (2011-2014).

It is advice the FFA is determined the Commission will heed.

“That is why we say there is a delicate balance in the tropical tuna measure,” Dr Tupou-Roosen explained.

Tuvalu is one of the Pacific nations for which fisheries income makes up more than half of its annual gross domestic product.

Natural Resources Minister Puakena Boreham told the opening of WCPFC that Tuvalu believes science-based management is essential and it is looking to Commission to respect the science and ensure that there be no bigger catch of bigeye tuna.

……PACNEWS

New push to protect sharks at Tuna Commission

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Another push is being made at Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meetings this week for an agreement on a comprehensive shark management measure.

The incidental catch of sharks while targeting other fish such as tuna has become a serious threat to the species.

A 2013 study by Social Development Direct, a UK based research group estimated that around 100 million sharks died in 2000 as a result of fishing, and 97 million in 2010.

Outgoing Commission chairperson, Rhea Moss-Christian, told reporters Saturday that the shark management measure would be a priority this year.

At last year’s Tuna Commission meeting, WCPFC  vowed to take up the issue of sharks at this year’s commission, however delays caused by fishing nations may have slowed things down.

A shark management measure would require all members, cooperating non-Members and participating territories to prohibit the removal of shark fins at sea.

It would also ban transshipment, retention on board and landing of shark fins.

Deep-sea longline fishing vessels and deep-sea and coastal trawlers had the largest total annual shark and ray by-catch according to Social Development Direct in 2015.

Longline boats deploy miles of baited hooks that accidentally snare sharks, among other unintended targets.

Blue sharks dominated the by-catch in longline fisheries. For other types of fishing gear,the species of by-catch varied across oceanic regions.

Many of the fisheries with the largest by-catch of cartilaginous species like sharks and rays operate over vast areas of ocean and often in international waters, where fishing rules are weaker.   

The measure before WCPFC15 would encourage research to identify ways to make fishing gear more selective and provide relevant information to WCPFC’s Scientific Committee.

The WCPFC has the mandate to conserve and manage nearly 60 per cent of the global tuna catch, equivalent to 2.9 million tons of tuna, valued at over $5 billion.It is also responsible for managing and conserving other migratory fish such as sharks and manta rays.

The environmental group, PEW Charitable Trust, said all species caught as by-catch fell  under the mandate of WCPFC.

Dave Gershman, PEW Global Tuna Conservation Officer said there should be a firm commitment, to conduct assessments on shark stocks in the WCPFC Convention Area.

“ PEW is keen to see action for sharks before their numbers crash. Negotiations for new rules on sharks have to take into account the widely differing interests of fishing nations and more conservation-minded resource-owning nations,” Gershman said.

Sharks are important to the ecosystem and as the top predators they keep the balance in the oceans. For small Pacific island nations, sharks can generate more money alive than dead.   Shark-based tourism in most of these nations is a lucrative business.

Nations to decide on critical Pacific tuna stocks this week

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 Honolulu, Hawaii- The 27 nation members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) will meet this week to make decisions on critical issues on tropical tunas, illegal fishing, observer safety and the management of Fishing aggregating devices (FADS).

 Pacific nations and distant water fishing nations are due to decide, at the annual WCPFC meeting, which begins December 10 today Honolulu time (Tuesday, Palau time), how to ensure the sustainability of tuna stocks.

It was quite a busy year for the Commission in 2018.

“We are expecting heavy discussions on the tropical tuna this year,” Rhea Moss-Christian, chairperson of the WCPFC, told reporters on Saturday.

The Tropical Tuna Measure sets fishing rules and influences for tuna worth more than US$4.4 billion a year.

Parts of the current measure, which covers skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin tuna, are due to expire at the end of the year.

In an earlier statement, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) said it wants to see WCPFC act on the existing tropical tuna measure but not increase the tuna catch.

Ms Moss-Christian said member-countries are expected to continue discussions on harvest strategies which will provide comprehensive plans for keeping tuna stocks in a healthy state.

The main proposal is that the Commission establish a new Science-Management Dialogue that would allow delegates to the annual Commission meeting to discuss harvest strategies and arrive better briefed on the science behind fisheries.

Work has also been progressing in other areas. Moss-Christian said that prior to this year’s annual negotiations work has been done through working groups on the Compliance Monitoring Scheme,electronic monitoring and reporting, Pacific albacore stocks, shark and ray protection and management of FADs.

“There are important issues that will be addressed next week,” she said.

The WCPFC will also prioritise discussion on the South Pacific albacore target reference point, which will start the process of putting the albacore fishery on an economically sustainable footing.

Moss-Christian, who will be concluding her leadership at the WCPFC this year, said she is more confident about the nations reaching consensus on several measures next week.

She made history by serving a four-year term as chairperson of  WCPFC and she said she feels good about her last term at the helm of the tuna body.

I feel very good about my last term this year, its time for me to step aside and let someone else step in,” she told reporters.

FFA Director General Dr Manu TupouRoosen said it is vital that WCPFC does not weaken the current tropical tuna measure.

“Our position is to not weaken the tropical tuna measure, we would like to maintain the strength of that measure,”Dr Tupou-Roosen stressed.

She said the measure ensures conservation and management of the tuna species – skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye.

She also said that it’s important to ensure sustainable management of the wider fishery in the Pacific.

 PNACEO Ludwig Kumoru said as resource owners of the crucial tuna species in the Pacific, his organisation will work in collaboration with FFA.

We will “work together to promote effective measures at the WCPFC for sustainable management of our fisheries resources” he said.

The WCPFC is responsible for setting the rules for conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the world’s biggest fishery.

The members of the WCPFC are: Australia,Canada, China, Cook Islands, European Community, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Marshall Islands,Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, and Vanuatu.

FFA supports proposals by WCPFC to establish scientific dialogue Forum

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HONOLULU, 11 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—- The region’s Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) has expressed support to the proposals put forward by Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to establish new Science-Management dialogue.

The idea behind the Comission’s Science-Management dialogue would allow delegates at the meeting to be better briefed on the science behind fisheries.

“We are fully supportive of the proposal to establish a scientific dialogue. We see that is the appropriate mechanism where the discussions on the development of harvest strategies can take place. Right now, we don’t have a clear space for those discussions.

“We also see it as an opportunity where our scientists can explain in layman’s terms to our managers what the science means so they can make informed management decisions. All of that to take place before we come to Commission meeting and we don’t get bogged down with the details of that at an already full commission meeting but come with some clear recommendations based on the science based on the fisheries managers having their lens on this work and bring it to Commission so that our work in that one week can be more efficient and beneficial,” said newly appointed FFA director General Dr Tupou-Roosen.

She said they have one strategy and that is to cooperate with Parties to the Nauru Agreement. (PNA).

“It is the only way we can be successful as a region and we are so pleased with the close working relationship with the PNA office in particular with the CEO Ludwig Kumoru who has been very open to working more collaboratively with FFA so we are excited about that. He mentioned earlier in the week about best practice governance and we are heartened that we share the same goal with Ludwig.

Dr Tupou-Roosen said as the new DG this will be one of her priorities to ensure that the FFA utilises best practice governance.

“One of the key aspects in this work is the participation of Small Island Developing States members and by that we mean additional funds so that they can be in the room, so that they can participate and be part of the decision-making processes for this commission.

One of the proposals from our membership is to have additional participant come not just to the commission meeting but also to the key subsidiary body meetings ahead if this commission – the scientific committee and the technical and compliance meetings. Associated with that is a proposal on hosting in SIDS territories, in SIDS countries.

The new Forum Fisheries Agency Director General believes hosting WCPFC is another fundamental aspect of effective participation.

“As we all know, when these meetings come to our homes it reaches a wider breadth of our people, they gain a better understanding of this Commission and its work and its importance to the region and it’s situated in this region in this region, in our region, and so we have the ability there to put into context the decisions we take as a Commission and why it is so important that we maximise economic returns from this fishery and why it is so important that when we maximise those economic returns we will naturally produce social yields social returns for us. Food security employment, alleviating poverty, prioritising health and education, adaptation to climate change all of those. That is why it is so critical for us to take this role responsibly this coming week,” a confident looking Dr Tupou-Roosen said. ……PACNEWS

‘Tuna diplomacy’ is one of the game-changers for the Pacific.

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Tuna has shaped regional politics and influenced the relationship between Pacific Islands States and major trading partners including China, Japan, United States and Taiwan and South Korea.

Each year the Pacific comes together with these powerful fishing nations to set the fishing rules for more than half the world’s tuna, as well as other ocean-going species at risk of being caught by accident by the fishing industry.

Diplomacy and solidarity among Pacific countries is key to Pacific success.

Ahead of this year’s meeting of the rule-setting body – the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), organisations representing Pacific nations are stressing their commitment to work together in solidarity.

With 60 per cent of the world’s main canning tuna – skipjack – caught in their waters as well as large quantities of fish for the fresh and frozen fish market, the Pacific is an important grouping.

However, decisions at WCPFC are made by consensus, so achieving results is often difficult.

The CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement which represents the 8 tropical tuna countries plus Tokelau, emphasised collaboration with the 17-nation Forum Fisheries Agency as they hold a series of meetings in Honolulu to prepare their negotiating strategies.

“The FFA Director General reminded us that we are doing this work for the benefit of our people,” PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru said in a statement ahead of this year’s WCPFC which commences on Monday.

“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,” he said.

Over the past decade, Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) comprising of eight countries (FSM, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, PNG, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu) developed a new model of cooperation, establishing a Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) to limit purse seine fishing access to their waters.

The VDS scheme is the single most successful resource management model in the Pacific using rights- based control over fisheries resources.

Under the scheme, fishing fleets are required to purchase fishing days at a minimum of US$8,000 per day, provide 100 percent coverage of all purse seiners, provide in port transhipment of tuna and an annual three-month moratorium on the use of fish aggregating devices. This has improved conservation and management of tuna caught in PNA countries while increasing the revenue share for island member countries from US$60m in 2010 to an estimated US$400m last year.

Ocean management or what is now being promoted the Blue Pacific narrative–where Pacific countries are called to exercise stronger strategic autonomy over the Pacific Ocean and its resources.

In recent years, the Pacific has witnessed increased geostrategic competition in the region and the Pacific Ocean is at the centre of this stepped-up engagements from new and emerging global players.

At the Pacific Leaders’ Summit in Nauru this year, leaders reaffirmed the Blue Pacific as the basis of ‘asserting’ the region’s solidarity on the global stage and secure potential development assistance to drive collective ambition and aspiration for the Pacific region.

In the words of the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi; “The Blue Pacific platform offers all Pacific countries the capabilities to address a changing geostrategic landscape. The opportunity to realise the full benefits of the Blue Pacific rests in our ability to work and stand together as a political bloc. And the challenge for us is maintaining solidarity in the face of intense engagement of an ever-growing number of partners in our region. We should not let that divide us! ”.

Under the flagship of the Blue Pacific identity –Pacific nations are again building a collective voice and asserting their common values and concerns. The Blue Pacific is about shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean –and the recognition that Pacific Island Countries manages 20 percent of the world’s oceans in their Exclusive Economic zone (EEZs).

To make this happen –Pacific countries realise the need to secure their maritime borders. The settlement of maritime boundaries provides certainty of ownership of the Pacific Ocean space –as Pacific people taking control of their domain, which is critical to managing their ocean resources, biodiversity, ecosystems as well as fighting the impacts of climate change. Of the 47 shared boundaries in the Pacific, 35 Treaties have been concluded so far and few more countries are now finalising their border agreements.

The WCPF meets from 10– 15 December ….PACNEWS