The economic value of tuna catches in the Western Pacific

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Republished from Franciso Blaha’s blog, 4 October 2017

by Francisco Blaha

 

As said many times before, I’m not only blown away by the number of readers of this humble blog, but as well by the calibre and expertise of many of them. This is evident when I get clarifications, on stuff I published, by totally disinterested contributors from some of the top experts in the tuna world. When I posted about the 2017 Pacific Tuna Forum, I quoted some figures for the economic value of the catches. Les Clark (a key advisor to PNA) very kindly provided me some further figures, that reflect more accurately the situation for the PICs. I quote them below:

The economic value of catches in 2016 was: USD 5.28 billion (PS: $2.84 billion and LL: $1.48 billion). Yet this is the value of the catch in the whole Western and Central Pacific Ocean.  So it includes the value of catches in the waters of Indonesia and Philippines and the high seas as well catches in the waters of Japan and other countries in the WCPO.

The value of catches in the waters of the Pacific Islands FFA members (i.e. FFA waters excluding Australia and New Zealand) is estimated at $2.59 billion. This data, including the estimate of $5.28 billion for the WCPO comes from the very useful value of WCPO tuna fisheries 2017 Excel files produced by Peter Terawasi from FFA and (available at https://www.ffa.int/node/425)

The $500 million that stays in the Pacific (that I quoted in the Tuna Forum post), is only for the government revenue from foreign vessels. On top of that, there are the broader economic benefits from domestic vessel operations including crew earnings, profits and various payments to government, provisionally estimated at around $350m for 2016.

So that means about $850m is retained of the $2.59b earned by vessels in Pacific Island waters – much of the rest is payments for fuel etc.  This also doesn’t include the economic benefits from onshore processing, local purchases by vessels, etc.

Hence, in reality, the full picture of the benefits for the Pacific Island Countries is better than the one I portrayed. If all included we could be at a 30% retention of the total value, now if that is sufficient and fair is the kind of discussions I love to hear.

Fisheries Economics is a specialised topic I don’t know much about, hence I have lots of respect for my colleagues in that area, and I follow their work with deep interest. At the end of the day, commercial fisheries are about money, and money decides fisheries politics.

Securing a sustainable future in the Pacific – a TED talk

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Republished from Franciso Blaha’s blog, 29 July 2017

by Francisco Blaha

 

My colleague and friend David Power, a management advisor in FFA, told me a few months ago he was Invited to do a TED talk in Sydney, and wanted to catch up on how is to do one?  Since I have done one, yet in a much smaller venue, we had  good chat about it. For me doing a the TED talk was a really good experience, albeit quite sobering.   

While I talked about what I do, it made me think about why I do it. It is quite nerve wracking, you talking about your work to a lot of people that may have preconceived ideas on fisheries issues, and you have 15′ to explain your universe!

So I feel for David when he says “it was the most nerve wracking experience he ever had with public speaking”! But he did a really good job as you can see, he owned the stage!

David is a good man and I’m sure it was an honour for him to have the opportunity to talk about the great work that everyone is doing in the region and showcase the Pacific.

I think is great that the people working in the Pacific fisheries have more public profiles, as I always say; is about people, not just fish.

Good on you David! (and thank you for using some of my pictures and crediting them!)

… Read the rest of the blog post here

E-Pacific: The array of apps for fisheries data acquisition we use in the WCPO

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Republished from Franciso Blaha’s blog, 20 July 2017

by Francisco Blaha

 

For a part of the world that has had a lot of difficulties regarding connectivity due to its remoteness, low critical mass concerning population, expensive services and not a lot of money in the population. The Pacific has been a remarkable early adopter of mobile technologies and the development of Apps exclusively dedicated to fisheries data collection for science, management and increasingly, compliance purposes.

In the Apps developments and fisheries related data fields management there are 3 players in the Pacific: FIMS, SPC and FFA. As an independent contractor to all of them, I see my self as a very lucky man working (and more important having friends) with each group. In fact, the one above is a screenshot of my tablet with all the Apps presently being used in the region.

The 1st guys off the block were the iFIMS crew. When I meet Mark (a boss there) for first time many 6-7 years ago at a meeting where I was presenting on the need of data (“catch once use always” was the title) and he was introducing FIMS. The connection was immediately we both were thinking in very similar ways, yet coming from very different backgrounds.

The FIMS project started as a PNG commissioned fisheries data management than the later was taken by PNA. The FIMS “constellation” is a product of Quick Access Computing and remains a privately own product and services provider.

I liked that Mark and its crew were not “fisheries people” hence their thinking was fresh and original, I been collaborating with them since that first meeting and we have most of the tools needed for a full CDS system. Besides that Mark became a friend (a rare commodity in the consulting world), we stayed at each other houses, and we know each other families… which in my worldview means way more than having just business together only.

And while FIMS is an integrated database / universe that does a lot things, from assets management to the administration of the VDS, here I just gonna focus on the present Apps that integrate with their online platform and web interface.

At present they have 2 “products” that are used very extensively:

eForms, is an electronic logsheet application for PS and LL vessels, which is used by fishers, and data sent to the server either by the vessels internet or via an Iridium enabled two-way communication device. The App provides industry with a platform to manage and eLodge data near real time, hence Catch Reporting and other functions available for any country, its operation in all Purse Seine Vessels currently registered in PNA water and quite a few longliners in some of the countries.

eObs, that is an Electronic observer data application for PS vessels and is used by observers, the data is uploaded to national and regional databases at SPC via an Iridium enabled two-way communication device (which provides additional observer safety measures).

The Iridium based communication these Apps use, is enabled via the use two-way, satellite communicator devices are about the size and weight of a smartphone, which have bandwidth limited yet effective data transmission, and using that guaranteed independence and reliability

The data sent has GPS marking included beyond the fact that overlaps with the VMS, so we know where the data was loaded and sent, and the systems have all sort of alarms and notifications included (EEZ and port entry/exit for example).

These two tools provide the regulators at port with the opportunity to assess a lot of info (volumes per species, effort per day, zones fished, observer notes, etc.) before the vessels arriving in port, allowing then the Port state to decide the level of inspection needed. Furthermore, both Apps become the basis of not only PSM but also the CDS.

There are other Apps on the pipeline such as Factory eForms, landing/transhipment monitoring forms as well as online modules (eCDS and port) just to name a few (but can say too much yet)

Their database connects to TUFMAN2 the SPC regional database (see below for more info) assuring data interoperability and future potential interaction with whatever the EU comes up with for the promised upgrade of their the catch certification scheme. As well the International Trade Data System (ITDS), the U.S. government’s single-window data portal for all import and export reporting.

Obviously being the 1rst of the block they set the pace, but most importantly, being private company instead of an institution allows them to be product and results focused, without haven to depend on bureaucracy and budgeting authorization to get the results. On the other hand being a private company has issues concerning the ownership and controls of the information. (Another example of my favourite fisheries mantra “everything has advantages and disadvantages.”)

In any case, what they have done so far is beyond admirable, and I have not seen anything even remotely similar anywhere else in the world.

… Read the rest of the blog post here

World tuna day announced by the United Nations

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Republished from Franciso Blaha’s blog, 14 December 2016

by Francisco Blaha

 

The United Nations General Assembly has voted today to make May 2nd World Tuna Day.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement have been pushing to establish an internationally recognised event for the past five years.  The United Nations General Assembly voted without objection to ratify a resolution on World Tuna Day that had been endorsed by nearly 100 nations prior to today’s vote at UN headquarters in New York City. Ambassadors from PNA nations attended the vote.

Tuna is a primary source of revenue for Pacific Island governments and is a key part of food security in the region and World Tuna Day helps strengthen the voice of Pacific nations striving to ensure their succeses and challenges are part of the global tuna conversation.

As the resource owners of the regions multi-billion-dollar fishery, it is clearly important that Pacific knowledge, progress and experiences must lead the global tuna conversations. And tuna is keeping the Pacific working, with jobs in the fisheries sector rising from 10,500 in 2010 to an estimated 19,000 in the present.  Added to that, while just under 20% of the tuna catch in the Pacific EEZs is caught by domestic fleets, that is still a rising trend, on top of another area of increase– the amount of the catch being processed on shore, where the majority of the jobs are filled by women.

A range of factors lead to these upward trends, amongst them an ability to implement at national level the results of regional agreements and actions for fisheries licensing, compliance, and monitoring policies, and management measures

Our challenge in the region is to continue this growth, including extending it to a broader range of the membership and to all fisheries.  The success of the PNA members in leveraging huge returns from the purse seine fishery is our collective inspiration for also reforming and benefiting more from long lining for example.

And of course, fisheries are not all rosy.  The Pacific faces numerous and substantial challenges including the overfished status of bigeye tuna, marginal economic status of albacore and concerted attacks on pacific islands sovereign rights from distant water fishing nations.