The Tuna Industry: Embracing technologies and sustainable strategies

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Photo: SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc.

Republished from Panay News, 23 August 2019

by Belinda Sales-Canlas

THE 21st National Tuna Congress is happening on September 4-6, 2019 in General Santos City. The Theme for this year’s Congress: “The Tuna Industry: Embracing Technologies and Sustainable Strategies”. Why this Theme?

The choice of the Theme is anchored on sustainability supported by technologies. We all know that Sustainability of Tuna Resources is paramount to the fishing industry. It cannot be overemphasized that the sustainability of the ocean’s resources does not only rest on the shoulders of government. The same responsibility is likewise demanded of the private sector, especially the global players of the Tuna Industry, and the global fisheries advocates.

The Theme calls that sustainability can only be achieved if Conservation and Management Measures are dutifully observed, and international and regional agreements calling for preservation of species and recovery plans, are honoured.

Sustainability also means no overfishing.  It means that we enable an environment for Tuna and Tuna-like species to spawn and propagate for another season of catch. The intention is not to deplete our resources.

On technology, the world is currently driven by technology. The fishing industry needs to keep up by continuously upgrading systems and processes to achieve full efficiency while being ocean-friendly.

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For 2019, the SOCSKSARGEN Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII) welcomes its new President, Andrew Philip Yu. Outgoing President Joaquin T. Lu has served SFFAII for 8 years, starting in 2011. He also held the chairmanship of the National Tuna Congress for eight years. 

President Lu’s accomplishments include: Active and dynamic Advocacy, Lobby Work, and Involvement in International and Regional Collaborations; Focused Partnership with National Government and Steadfast Observance and Compliance with Philippine Laws; and Implementation of the electronic Catch Documentation and Traceability System (eCDTS).

On the first, the country is a driven Member of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Under his watch, the Philippines has been granted access to fish in the High Seas Pocket 1 (HSP1). This means that the country’s 36 fishing fleets can fish in the HSP1 of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. This is a major breakthrough for the country. It may be recalled that for a time, the Philippines was no longer allowed to fish in Indonesia. The prohibition affected the Tuna Industry. The severity of the situation was felt in General Santos City, the home base of the Tuna Industry.

Under his leadership, the fishing industry was able to surmount the acute challenge. Of course, even as the Philippines is granted access to fish in the high seas, the country is duty bound to comply with international regulations, like the observance of conservation and management measures.

SFFAII also pushed for the Philippines’ inclusion in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. The high seas of the Indian Ocean and the Exclusive Economic Zones of member-coastal states are potential fishing grounds for Philippine purse-seine fishing vessels. Fishing in other fishing grounds will enable our own fishing grounds to recover.

SFFAII also pushes the promotion of ASEAN Tuna globally and branding it as a suitable and traceable-produced product. SFFAII supports the move to properly label the fishing industry and its allied industries’ products. However, it likewise urges that international certification be made affordable, yielding benefits not only to stakeholders, but also on marine ecosystems.

On Focused Partnership with National Government and Steadfast Observance and Compliance with Philippine Laws. For 20 years, SFFAII has hosted 20 Tuna Congresses. The Tuna Congress is now on its 21st year. The yearly Congress has become a venue for intense lobby efforts from among the active players and loyal stakeholders of the industry. The issues and concerns afflicting the industry are highlighted in the yearly Tuna Congress.

The yields of the past Tuna Congresses include the Formulation of a Policy governing Illegal, Unlawful, and Unregulated fishing practices; Finalization, Production, and Issuance of the Philippine Fishing Vessels Safety Rules and Regulations; 2018 National Tuna Management Plan which is aimed at establishing a sustainably-managed and equitably-allocated Tuna fisheries by 2026 and promoting responsible fishing practices and trade of Tuna products; Creation of National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council that serves as an advisory/recommendatory body to the Department of Agriculture in policy formulation; Reconstitution of the National Tuna Industry Council; Approval of the Handline Fishing Law and the amendment of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the said law; among others.

On Implementation of the eCDTS. In 2017, a major milestone for the Tuna Industry unfolded when SFFAII partnered with USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership and BFAR to develop and implement the eCDTS. The system, when operational, will trace the movement of seafood from “bait to plate”, all the way through to export markets like US, EU, and neighbouring ASEAN markets. General Santos City has been chosen as the pilot city. Now on its final year, we will see how this system will actually impact the fishing industry.

Cook Islands and the Forum Fisheries Agency look to strengthen co-operation

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Republished from Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

AVARUA, 10 April 2019 — Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Director-General (DG) Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen visited Rarotonga this week to discuss current and future co-operation between the Cook Islands and the Honiara-based FFA Secretariat. Dr Tupou-Roosen was appointed DG by FFA Ministers during the annual FFA Council of Ministers (FFCMIN 15) hosted by the Cook Islands in Rarotonga last year. 

The Cook Islands is the current Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC), through Prime Minister and Minister of Fisheries Henry Puna and will relinquish the year-long Chair role to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in June when Ministers meet in Pohnpei. 

“We welcome the visit of Dr Tupou-Roosen so early in her tenure as affirmation of her commitment to strengthening co-operation between the Secretariat and the Cook Islands,” said Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI). 

“The FFA is one of our most valuable regional organisations and the regional solidarity approach that has been a hallmark of FFA collaboration for almost 40 years is what’s enabled our region, and our members individually, to sustainably manage our shared tuna resources to provide strong economic returns, which in turn support our development priorities.”

Left to right: Tepaeru Herrmann (Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration), Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen (FFA DG), and Pamela Maru (Secretary, Ministry of Marine Resources). Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Cook Islands.

Dr Tupou-Roosen highly commended Secretary Herrmann’s leadership as the officials FFC Chair and looked forward to working closely with Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) Secretary Pamela Maru as she takes forward the chairing role through to its handover to FSM in May.

“The Cook Islands is an important player and leader in our regional fisheries, and we’re particularly grateful for their collaboration with the Secretariat in their role as the FFC Chair this past year through Secretary Herrmann. We sincerely thank our Ministerial Chair, the Honourable Prime Minister Puna, and his Government for the continued support to the FFA, and for being a staunch supporter of regional cooperation. We very much look forward to working closely with Secretary Maru through to FFC next month. The cornerstone of our success in regional fisheries is cooperation and this will continue to drive the way we operate in serving the Cook Islands and all our Members” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

The visit provided an early opportunity to discuss the Cook Islands’ priorities as well as the FFA’s including its strategic focus for service delivery to countries, the 40th anniversary of the FFA and the establishment of a Regional Fisheries Ministers meeting to convene this year.

As part of the visit, the MMR Secretary Maru, discussed with Dr Tupou-Roosen the Cook Islands strategic interests in securing long term rights to regional fisheries resources, and strengthening relationships with our Pacific neighbours.

“Developing strategic partnerships enables the Cook Islands to investigate our fisheries development opportunities to meet national socio-economic and food security needs, whilst ensuring fisheries resources are managed sustainably within the wider regional fisheries management framework” Ms Maru said. 

Ms Maru, who was employed by the FFA for 6 years as a Fisheries Management Adviser prior to her assumption of the MMR Head of Ministry position in January this year, will head the Cook Islands delegation to the FFC Officials meeting which will convene in Pohnpei next month. 

MMR and MFAI will continue to strengthen collaboration with each other, and domestic and international partners in both the fisheries and oceans governance spaces in the coming months as both agencies look to elevate efforts to sustainably manage Cook Islands fisheries, whilst ensuring stable and secure access to regional fisheries resources.

For more information and other pictures, please contact:

Davina Toleafoa, +682 29347, davina.toleafoa@cookislands.gov.ck

Donna Hoerder,+679 9265518, donna.hoerder@ffa.int

NGOs slam fishing nation delay tactics: stalemate on albacore tuna

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MANILA, Philippines, December 7 – Environment NGOs have delivered a damning indictment of a group of Pacific Tuna Commission members, saying they have deliberately blocked conservation measures for the South Pacific Albacore tuna fishery.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) is in the final hours of its week-long deliberation focused on new tropical tuna measures – the rules governing the fishery.

In the past 3 years moves to improve WCPFC rules for albacore have gone at a glacial pace.

“For years we have listened to impassioned pleas from every Pacific Island state with respect to their declining catch rates of South Pacific Albacore,” said Alfred (Bubba) Cook, Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager on behalf of WWF, Greenpeace and the EDF (Environmental Defense Fund).

But few Distant Water Fishing Nation members have been willing to join Pacific nations to take action.

“It seems, despite these impassioned pleas, despite the voluminous scientific and economic evidence put before you, you…don’t…care.

“You don’t care about the domestic industry in the Pacific. You don’t care about the communities in the Pacific Islands that are almost wholly dependent on this resource.

Moreover, you don’t appear to care about the health of the resource.”

The NGOs said most parties around the table had “bent over backwards” to try and accommodate a few demands and these members still refused to budge.

“There does not seem to be even a spirit of compromise. What would you agree to, honestly? Because despite the enormous efforts of most of the parties around the table, you continue to postpone adoption of target reference points and now claim that we should just wait for the next stock assessment or the next meeting or the next something.

“This, to us, seems like a crass delay tactic designed to buy one more year until you can develop another strategy to delay further. And meanwhile the Pacific industry and the countries that depend on the resource wither and die,” said Bubba Cook for the NGOs.

“What additional proof is required to convince you to be a good global citizen and inspire you to recognize your responsibility to the other countries and cultures in this room?

“Lastly, this is a disaster of your own making for a few of you.”

The NGOs said despite repeated calls and measures to limit capacity, these members had put more vessels into the fishery.

“And now, stunningly, you are upset at even the suggestion that you might have to withdraw that capacity and effort in the future. If you are worried about the potential impact on your industry, well, it is by your own hand and the rest of the members in this room shouldn’t have to suffer for your poor judgment.”

The NGOs said agreeing to a non-binding workplan left little satisfaction as it only served as another delay. They called on them to start living up to their collective responsibility to conserve and manage the critically important resource.

Fisheries sector ‘key economic driver’ in Pacific Islands states

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Republished from The National, 15 September 2017

 

The fisheries sector will be a key economic driver in the region if tuna is processed in the Pacific Islands states, according to the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association.

Association chief executive John Maefiti spoke of the challenges and opportunities in growing Pacific Islands-based tuna fishing and processing industries during the regional tuna industry and trade conference in Port Moresby on Wednesday.

He said there were foreign resource-user boats in the region which went in every year to get access licence from the Pacific Island states.

“They will go fishing and when they get a full catch, they then offload the fish to bigger ships which transported them to Bangkok in Thailand and other countries to be processed and then re-exported by Europe and United States markets,” Maefiti said.

“We should ask why most of the fish are processed outside the countries that they were caught in. Because if they are processed in the Pacific Islands States, the fisheries sector could be the key economic driver in the region.”

Maefiti said the regional body represented the national associations in the region.

“We were established in 2005 and our key objective is to provide the united voice for our members on issues that affect our business interests in the region.”