A new five year strategic plan has been endorsed by fisheries ministers from across the Pacific region that will prove critical to protecting Australia’s interests and directly support profitable tuna fisheries in our waters.
Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Senator Jonathon Duniam, said the strategic plan will help guide the actions of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).
“The new plan sets out the priorities for action across the seventeen member countries of the FFA,” Minister Duniam said.
“As a region, we will be implementing harvest strategies, improving working conditions for crew of fishing vessels in the region and reforming management of longline fisheries.
“Australia can take a leadership role in many of these areas, which are vital to the success of Pacific fisheries and our regional prosperity.
“This agreement follows forty years of cooperative management of tuna fisheries—an outstanding achievement that continues to drive strong management of sustainable tuna fisheries across the region.”
Ministers also convened the first Special Regional Fisheries Ministers Meeting which gave delegates the opportunity to discuss broader regional fisheries issues.
“The challenges that regional fisheries face—particularly supporting sustainable coastal fisheries and addressing marine pollution—will benefit from having a strong ministerial body to guide action,” said Minister Duniam.
“I look forward to continuing to work with my Pacific colleagues to achieve positive outcomes for the region.”
POHNPEI, 21 June 2019 – For the first time in the Pacific region, a policy dialogue between the seventeen (17) Forum Fishery Agency (FFA) Members and the European Union (EU) to discuss issues and challenges relating to the sustainable management of marine resources commenced in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia today.
Marine resources not only form the backbone of the Pacific economy, and plays an important role towards their economic development, but it is alsoessential to the livelihood, well-being and prosperity of the Pacific people. Therefore, the sustainable management of marine resources is vital for present and future generations.
FFA Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen said: “This policy dialogue is important because it is an opportunity for FFA members and the EU to have an in depth discussion on key issues relating to the sustainable management of tuna in our region, its importance for Pacific Island countries, and our cooperation in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to tackle issues like Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. This will further contribute to ensuring the sustainability of this critical resource for our people beyond the lifetime of the programme and that is what we value.”
The two-day meeting, which is organised under the framework of the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme- a four-year initiative co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the Government of Sweden will also focus on the cooperation between the EU and FFA Member countries, implementation of regional and international measures aimed at reducing Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) fishing and trade-related negotiations to remove fisheries subsidies.
The Acting Head of Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Mr. Corrado Pampaloni said fishery play a key role for many Small Island States, both in terms of food security and economic and social development. The EU is proud to be supporting the rightful development aspiration of small developing island states, while ensuring the overarching goal of sustainable fisheries and improved governance.
“As the life force that sustains our planet and every person on it, the EU will continue to support every effort to manage our oceans more sustainably – for the benefit of local communities in the Pacific, and for of many the generations to come. The EU remains the largest fisheries consumer in the world and is a very important export market, particularly for the Pacific fisheries products. For these reasons, the EU has a key interest to maintain healthy fish stocks for future generations. The on-going discussions in an open and transparent manner will benefit both sides, and improve our understanding of main challenges and opportunities. I strongly believe that this first policy dialogue paves the way for increased cooperation between the EU and the Pacific region for the sustainable management of marine resources,” said Mr. Pampaloni.
Funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden, the EUR 45 million PEUMP programme promotes sustainable management and sound ocean governance for food security and economic growth, while addressing climate change resilience and conservation of marine biodiversity. It follows a comprehensive approach, integrating issues related oceanic fisheries, coastal fisheries, community development, marine conservation and capacity building under one single regional action. The programme is being implemented in close collaboration by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).
The Policy Dialogue is planned as an annual event under PEUMP.
The recent Pacific Community (SPC) 11th Heads of Fisheries meeting held in Noumea, New Caledonia from 11-13 March 2019 has been briefed on a large marine partnership initiative to improve economic, social and environmental benefits for Pacific states.
The PEUMP programme addresses some of the most serious challenges faced by the region such as the increasing depletion of coastal fisheries resources; threats to marine biodiversity, including negative impacts of climate change and disasters; the uneven contribution of oceanic fisheries to national economic development; the need for improved education and training in the sector; and the need to mainstream a rights-based approach and promote greater recognition of gender issues within the sector.
It focuses on six key areas targeting gaps in fisheries science; fisheries development; coastal resources and livelihoods; Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing; ecosystem-based management; biodiversity conservation; and capacity building at national and community levels.
Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner reaffirmed the role of the EU as a reliable and close partner of the Pacific and said: ”The Pacific–European Union Marine Partnership Programme supports the sustainable management of fisheries, food security and blue growth in the Pacific region, in line with the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries. The oceans are a life force that sustains our planet and every person on it. Therefore it is so important to join up in the Pacific and set an example on how to manage marine resources more sustainably.”
Speaking on behalf of Sweden, Åsa Hedén, Head of Development Cooperation, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific said: “Following the New York Ocean conference co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden in 2017, Sweden presented its largest national budget for supporting environment, ocean and climate initiatives. In this commitment, we recognise the PEUMP programme as a unique intervention with its multi-sectoral approach with different stakeholders at regional, national and local levels working towards sustainable management of the Ocean. As a co-financier, we are pleased to be part of this initiative. It is evident that the PEUMP programme has taken on a serious people-centred approach to promote direct opportunities and positive changes for the people of the Pacific Islands, targeting women, men, youth and vulnerable groups.”
The SPC is leading implementation of the multi-partner programme which is working in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Vanuatu.
SPC’s Director General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said: “As the largest region on Earth and with climate change being more widely recognised as an immediate and pressing priority, the Pacific region will quickly become a hub for international climate change research and a focus for debates around conservation and resource management. The Blue Pacific narrative will ensure that our region has a leading, independent and united voice on these issues. The PEUMP partnership will provide further support to help ensure that, as stewards of the Pacific, we are working collaboratively to manage and preserve our ocean resources to ensure a sustainable future.”
A Chinese owned longline yellowfin and bigeye tuna fishery in the Federated States of Micronesia has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for its bigeye tuna catch. This is the first time that bigeye has been certified to the MSC’s globally recognised standard for sustainable fishing.
The fishery, owned by three Chinese fishing companies, Liancheng Overseas Fishery (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd (SZLC), China Southern Fishery Shenzhen Co. Ltd (CSFC) and Liancheng Overseas Fishery (FSM) Co. Ltd. (FZLC), achieved MSC certification for yellowfin in October 2018. Following an independent assessment by conformity assessment body, Control Union, bigeye can now be added to the list of certified species caught by the fishery.
The latest stock assessment for bigeye in the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) shows that stocks are healthy and being fished at a sustainable rate. In order to ensure that the fishery can respond to any changes in the health of the bigeye stock, certification is conditional upon the adoption of harvest strategies including harvest control rules, by all member states of the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) by 2021.
Bill Holden, Senior Fisheries Outreach Manager for the MSC in Oceania & South East Asia said: “We congratulate Liancheng and their partners for becoming the first fishery to be eligible to sell MSC certified bigeye tuna. They are demonstrating true leadership in sustainable fishing. To maintain their certification, Liancheng will need to work with other fishing organisations and the WCPFC to agree to important management measures to safeguard bigeye tuna stocks. As a result, this certification could influence the sustainability of bigeye fishing across the entire WCPO.”
Sam Chou, President of Liancheng Overseas Fishery (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., the parent company of the three fleets certified said: “We are extremely proud to have the first bigeye tuna fishery to be certified to the MSC Standard. It is a distinct honor. Liancheng is the largest Chinese fleet to achieve MSC certification. We are dedicated to achieving certification for all our fisheries.”
Joe Murphy, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Liancheng said:“Our customers and consumers recognize the value of MSC certification, and our ability to provide fish for sale with the blue MSC label. We hope to market MSC certified bigeye catch in China, Japan, Asia, the United States and Europe.”
THE Solomon Islands government has earned a record $399 million Solomon Island Dollar (SBD) from its tuna resources in 2017, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) in Honiara has revealed. This is around $51 million US dollars.
The fishing industry now offers hope for the country, behind the logging industry, which earns more but is slowly decreasing in its revenue.
Ministry’s Under-Secretary (Technical) Ferral Lasi said offshore fisheries remain the largest income-generating sector and this is from tuna alone, which accounts for almost 90 per cent of the revenues.
He said it’s a trend he believes could take the lead in a country that has heavily relied on logging for the last two decades.
“Tuna is soon to take up the lead, as it continues to show a massive increase in revenue compared to the past.
“This positive trend shows the improvement in management of the country’s ocean resources and, most importantly, the collective efforts from neighbouring countries in the region to pursue a common objective to manage tuna,” Mr Lasi said.
He added that the species of tuna caught in the Solomon waters worth millions of dollars are albacore, yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack – the four main species of interest in the world market.
“The wealth of any island nation in the Pacific lies in the massive area of waters surrounding their archipelagos, and that is measured 200 nautical miles from the shoreline, known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”
Like other island countries, the ocean bounded under the sovereignty of Solomon Islands is many times larger than the land mass of the country itself, hence the responsibility to care and protect the EEZ is a challenge.
Mr Lasi’s revelation that $339 million collected from revenues in fisheries by the government is a well-deserved acknowledgement for the hardworking staff in the MFMR.
He dubbed logging in the country as a ‘sunset industry’.
“The fishing industry remains the most promising industry that keeps the government optimistic for the future.”
He said once other marine species are managed well to benefit the local people and enable them to participate in commercial activities, more revenue will pour into the country without heavy reliance on tuna.
He said an example of this is bech-de-mer (sea cucumber), which is a valuable marine species but not abundant like tuna.
Mr Lasi stressed that once the right policies are put in place by the government to help local people, the management and commercialization of sea cucumber will definitely boost the economy and enrich the indigenous people.
“There are many marine resources inside our coastal waters and the ocean that should be enough to sustain our livelihood and support our government to commit in its service delivery.”
Mr Lasi further stated that more work is being carried out by MFMR to gauge the maximum benefit Solomon Islands can acquire from its ocean resources, though sustainable management.
There may be several more millions generated from other marine products.
But the question is, how much of that money actually ends up in the hands of Solomon Islanders?
This is a hard question to answer.
But it’s a question worth answering if Solomon Islanders are to quantify the benefits they are deriving from their own marine resources.
Former chief executive officer of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and the country’s very own fisheries law expert, Dr Transform Aqorau, once said that the Solomon Islands should be earning more from its tuna than what it is earning now.
But for the nation to earn maximum benefits from its marine resources, resource owners must be considered and included in all facets of policy and decision-making.
Right now, most of the big players in the industry are outsiders. Solomon Islanders are still missing out.
Whilst the fisheries industry holds much hope for the country, authorities need to ensure resource owners get maximum benefit from their resources.