Successful outcomes at Tuna Summit

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Tonga and other Pacific nations have succeeded in their push to persuade the Tuna Commission to start the process of rebuilding stocks of South Pacific albacore tuna – the most important tuna for Tonga.

The Pacific tuna industry has been hit hard in recent years as more foreign fishing vessels started fishing for albacore.

“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.

Stocks of albacore are down to 52 per cent of their pre-fishing levels. The Tuna Commission agreed to aim to rebuild them to an interim target reference point of 56 per cent of original stocks.

This was not the full 60 per cent sought by Tonga and other Pacific countries but Forum Fisheries Agency Director General, Dr Manumatavai Tupou-Roosen described it a milestone achievement for all of the Commission.

“The challenge going forward is for FFA members to ensure they do their own work to adopt catch limits within their own waters,” she added.

With the target reference point as a guide Dr Tupou-Roosen said it would now be possible to seriously start to manage the fishery not just as the FFA membership but as a Commission.

Pacific countries were also pleased that the Commission extended measures to protect tropical tunas for another two years.

The adoption of another FFA proposal – a ‘Resolution on Labour Standards for crew on Fishing Vessels’ was welcomed as a world first.

The FFA Director General said it is a really important moment for the Commission but, she added, “countries have a lot of work ahead to put in place National legislation and minimum regional terms and conditions for the operation of fishing vessels and crew that they allow to access FFA waters”.

The Tuna Commission agreed to more money for Small Island Developing States to attend meetings and participate in decision making. They also agreed to adopt a new measure governing the Compliance Monitoring Scheme.

“It is now fundamental to ensure that FFA members continue to effectively monitor and assess compliance of all states in the Pacific,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.

There was also a decision on trans-shipment of fish at sea.  The decision made by this Commission to review this measure next year. The FFA Director General believes that it is a critical issue because there is a need to better regulate these interactions which take place out of sight in international waters.

She said there were short falls of information in that area particularly for the longline fleet and that is one thing they will seek to address next year.

Dr Tupou-Roosen said FFA members will continue to find ways to improve fisheries management, to combat IUU fishing and the look at ways to allocate catch and effort.

Next year’s Tuna Commission meeting will be held in Papua New Guinea.

 

…..ENDS

Diplomatic dance around Japanese delicacy

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IN the Japanese port of Ishigaki, the longline fleet has braced for the impact of the decision of a tiny Pacific state to ban fishing in its waters from January 1, 2020.

The fate of 20 small fishing vessels is hooked to this conservation move which Palau – once occupied by Japan – has deemed necessary to protect its coastal waters.

A ban will mean the Ishigaki fleet from Okinawa Island will no longer have access to the katsuo (bonito, also known as Skipjack) which is the ingredient for tataki – tuna seared very briefly over a hot flame or in a pan, and can be briefly marinated in vinegar, sliced thinly and seasoned with ginger.

And so, on the periphery of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries (Tuna) Commission in Hawaii this week, Japanese delegates approached the subject of research in Palau waters post 2019.

It’s a thinly veiled move to allow Ishigaki fishermen to cross into Palauan waters and fish for Skipjack under the guise of research while actually catering to the tataki tables of metropolitan Japan.

Japan’s Head of Delegation at the Tuna Commission, Shingo Ota, said Palau was concerned about the closure because of its impact on the Okinawa fleet of what he described at 20 small-scale longliners.

“If Palau is going to close the area those vessels have nowhere to go, “ Ota said.

“They have been dependent on the same fishing ground for many years and it’s very difficult for them to find alternative fishing grounds because they are accustomed to the Palau EEZ and maybe (it’s) easy for them to find fish.”

There has been no mention of the 2000 tonnes of Big Eye which the Okinawa fleet also catches each year off Palau.

Palau’s fishing grounds are closest to Okinawa and Ota acknowledged that the ease of access to the EEZ by the Japanese fleet was also related to proximity and, by extension, economic reasons including fuel and supplies.

While Ota acknowledged that Japan had approached Palau to make exceptions for the Okinawa-based fleet after the fishery closure, he would not be drawn into details of the request.

By small-scale, Ota means vessels with the capacity to catch no more than 20 tonnes compared to the large scale which is usually 400 tonnes gross tonnage.

When Palau closes its Exclusive Economic Zone, the area will effectively become a sanctuary in which fishing and mining is prohibited.

A dedicated 20 per cent of the EEZ will be accessible to domestic fishing fleets which will off-load in Palau in an effort to boost local industry and create employment.

President Tommy Remenegsau pushed for this measure, citing the need to restore the health of Palau’s ocean for future generations.

Under this initiative Remengasau hopes to increase fish stocks in the EEZ and encourage more diving tourism which has proved to be attractive to Asian visitors and lucrative for local tour operators.

But even before the sanctuary has been established, the Distant Water Fishing Nations – in this case Japan – have started not-too subtle attempts to unpick a landmark decision by a Small Island Developing State.

And Japan can wield influence over its tiny eastern neighbour.

Japan is one of Palau’s largest foreign donors, providing aid which has enabled the building roads, water improvement and, possible future funding for the expansion of the airport.

The Roman Tmetuchl International Airport development will allow for 200,000 visitors a year to access Palau.

How much influence Japan is willing to exert will depend ultimately on whether Remengasau’s government pushes back on the attempt to secure the future of the Okinawa fleet.

But in an attempt to bring Pacific islands to the table, Japan has used the region’s often-touted appeal for consideration of traditional practice as a trump card.

“In addition to (the impact of) distant water fishing fleets, some of the species are migrating into Japanese waters, particularly skipjack,” Ota said.

“(But) we have seen very poor migration of skipjack in recent years and so our coastal fishermen are very much concerned about skipjack.”

So what impact has this had on Japan’s coastal fisheries?

“They cannot catch skipjack, they have been traditionally catching skipjack in their coastal waters and I am telling other members that skipjack is not only important for economic objectives but also cultural objectives,” Ota said.

“Many of the coastal villages have a traditional celebration of the migration of the skipjack but recently because there is no skipjack coming to the Japanese coastal waters they often have to cancel the traditional activities.”

At the Tuna Commission in Hawaii, a group of Okinawan fishing industry representatives wearing “No Katsuo (Skipjack), No Life” shirts mingled with delegates to draw attention to their plight.

In the past Japan has used the research excuse to continue whaling activities despite an international moratorium.

Depending on Palau’s decision, the world will soon know whether Japan has been able to flout another international convention under the guise of contributing to science.

 

Shark fins worse than their bite at tuna talks

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AS Pacific nations gathered at Waikiki to talk about fisheries conservation methods last week, Japanese fishermen were charged with trafficking shark fins in and out of Hawaii.

Sharks have in the past been targeted by long-line fishing fleets in the Western and Central Pacific due to their high value in the Asian market.

But a crackdown by regional governments through implementation of Commission Management Measures of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (CMMs)  in the last 10 years have seen a reduction in shark finning.

In Honolulu Harbour the Kyoshin Maru No 20 was seized with 96 shark fins on board and its Captain, Hiroyuki Kasagami, Fishing Master, Toshiyuki Komatsu and Chief Engineer, Hiroshi Chiba, were charged with 11 counts related to trafficking shark fin.

The fishing boat is owned by Hamada Sulsan and operated by JF Zengyoren, a Japanese cooperative.

Each of the officers faces personal fines of up to $USD2.7million and jail terms of five to 20 years.

As the men headed on pre-trial release, another push was being made at the Tuna Commission (WCPFC) for an agreement on a comprehensive shark management measure. There are already a number of CMMs relating to sharks and the intention is to consolidate these in to a single measure.

Sharks are usually an incidental catch in the tuna industry but there are specific rules against targeting the species which can happen by deliberately setting hooks from longliners at certain depths.

But finning sharks is controlled and restricted under the licence agreements of fishing boats operating the WCPFC waters.

Around 100 million sharks died in 2000 as a result of fishing, according to a 2013 study by Social Development Direct, a UK based research group.

A 2015 study showed that deep-sea longline fishing vessels and coastal trawlers had the largest total of shark and ray by-catch.

There are no exact figures for shark deaths in the Pacific, but outgoing WCPFC Chairperson, Rhea Moss-Christian, told reporters Saturday that a shark management measure would be a priority this year.

Any shark management measure will need WCPFC members, cooperating non-Members and participating territories to prohibit the removal of shark fins at sea.

Associated with the measure will be a ban on trans-shipment, on-board retention of sharks and the landing of shark fins.

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

Within the FFA, strict Port State Measures offer a raft of compliance checks local authorities can make on fishing vessels according to the perceived threat posed by the boat.

This is another tool available within the Pacific to ensure the reduction of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fisheries, including catching and finning of sharks.

There is a fear, however, that some fleets are fishing for sharks on the high seas and transshipping fins to huge carrier ships which are involved in other illegal activities.

The presence of these large ocean-going carriers has caused Pacific countries to call for on-board observers on the vessels to report illegal activities.

Federated States of Micronesia National Oceanic resource Management Authority Executive Director, Eugene Pangelinan, said electronic monitoring was critical to conservation and management on the high seas.

“Electronic monitoring is more about supplementing and improving the compliance of longliners that are operating in the Exclusive Economic Zone or High Seas where current commission coverage is five per cent observer coverage,” Pangelinan said.

“We think the electronic monitoring offers an alternative – not to human observers – but more to increase the validation and compliance mechanism.

“It also offers an opportunity to improve our data collection and improvement in statistics gathering for other species of special interest such as sea turtles, non-target species sharks and so forth.

“I think electronic monitoring offers much more better eyes whereas observers are not capable of being physically accommodated on long-liners.”

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 the WCPFC 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.

Conservation groups at the WCPFC have called for be a firm commitment, to conduct assessments on shark stocks.

Dave Gershman of PEW Charitable Trust said sharks were important to the ecosystem and as the top predators they kept the balance in the oceans.

“PEW is keen to see action for sharks before their numbers crash,” Gershman said.

“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.”

While the Pacific negotiates the complexities of shark conservation measures behind closed doors, the US authorities have signalled that they will take no nonsense from fleets which target shark fins.

And in Honolulu Harbour there is one crew which has found out to its cost that with supportive laws, a dead shark can have a terrible bite.

Labour standards push hopes for thumbs up from Tuna Commission

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Building on the success of their support for Observer safety at the 2016 Pacific Tuna Commission session in Nadi, Forum Fisheries countries are gunning for the 15th session in Honolulu this week to pass a resolution aimed at ending any cruel and unfair treatment of crew members on fishing vessels.

The non-binding resolution on Labour standards for crew comes as an increasing number of reported incidents are being heard, some of them involving Pacific nationals working on vessels in Pacific waters.

Vanuatu’s head of Fisheries Kalo Pakoa says its a national priority from where he sits, because government is keen to encourage more ni-Vanuatu to take up jobs in the sector– which has seen spikes and dips in recruitment.

“The crewing sector’s had a long history in Vanuatu since the 60’s and has employed more than a thousand workers at its heights….but seen declines as well,” he says. “We are working to rebuild the sector and develop our human resource capacity through training, and pushing for good registration and crew records of our crew on our fleets as well as other fleets in our waters”

The resolution builds on commitments in global workers rights conventions of the ILO, and the WCPFC’s founding convention. Another attraction for getting it passed is the credibility for those championing it, but Vanuatu’s government are already planning to walk the talk on the issue.

“It’s important — we have issues within our fleet with regards to human rights, welfare issues and capacity, so government has actually tasked us to come up with standards and legislation, and in future the Fisheries Department will be shouldering this responsibility, away from the current Labour Department jurisdiction,” says Pakoa.

“It’s necessary and important for us to not only focus on the other groups of people working on the value chain of the fishery, but to also look at the standard of workers, the people who are the first in line to see the fish that comes out of the ocean– so we think their welfare is also very important in this process. From the side of the FFA members, its an economic and employment opportunity aiming to improve capacity and standards of workers.”

Pakoa is chairing working-groups on the proposed resolution text which is already undergoing changes, and is likely to face more tweaking before it goes to a final plenary of the Commission late Friday in Honolulu. 

Is the resolution still ‘live’ in terms of getting all the WCPFC members on board with the Pacific call? Pakoa is positive. 

“So far it’s not a no, it’s a yes in principle –but there is work to be done to improve the text of the resolution, so there’s progress here tonight, and there’s progress in getting input of all the Commission country members into a document we will get to the Chair between now and Friday.”

He says the tweaking of the text of the resolution will ensure it aligns with national level legislation or conventions of members in their own jurisdictions, and is all part of the process. //ENDS

Pacific nations warned of threat to sovereignty from Distant Water Fishing Nations

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HONOLULU, 13 DECEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)—- Papua New Guinea’s Fisheries Industry Association has warned delegates at the Tuna Commission to ensure their national interests are protected from the threat posed by Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) wanting to extend the jurisdiction of fishing rules.

Chairman Sylvester Pokajam said members of the Western and Central Fisheries Commission must fight for their rights.

“The biggest threat that I keep telling the members of the PNA and the FFA they (DWFNs) have now encroached into managing our exclusive economic zones and they try to also exercise the mandate of the commission into our internal archipelago waters.

“And we said no, that is non-negotiable and it’s going to remain non-negotiable because that’s our territory, so our members should not lose sight of that.

Pokajam said the WCPFC was formed to manage the high seas but external fisheries interests had encroached into management of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of some Pacific nations.

“That’s why they should remain alert to make sure that we remain dominant because the moment they have more numbers in the commission, they may exercise their right to vote we would lose our rights and I don’t think we’d allow that.

At the moment Pacific Island nations make up a slim majority of members of the WCPFC but with other countries interested in joining that advantage could be eroded. While decisions within the WCPFC are usually taken by consensus a vote can be called as a last resort

Pokajam said it is important Pacific nations audit co-operating non-members carefully, to ensure that they are in compliance with commission regulations.

“I don’t think we should allow many (to join),” he said

Pokajam explained that members must ensure the interests of coastal states are protected.

“So (the) main objective of the coastal states – mostly the FFA members – is that we make sure that our interest is protected at all times, at all costs and at the same time the way we are seeing now is that DWFN are trying to take the power away from us,” Pokajam said.

“They (have tried) as much as possible since day one to take that power away from the coastal states but for FFA member countries we will fight for it and I think we have been very successful to date. “

Pokajam said the Pacific always remains united and nations had made some sacrifices for the sake of solidarity.

“We have been able to force our message through the purse seine industry, through the FFA and come up with our own measures through the three implementing arrangements to 100 percent observer coverage, High Seas closure – these are measures we put in place,” he said.

The VDS scheme- in which licensees pay a daily fee to operate in fishing zones – is the single most successful resource management model using rights-based control over fisheries resources.

“We have implemented the VDS. Purse seine, effect control, used to be by number of boats, that’s not the case since 2004. Effort has now shifted to days. What we are saying is you can have so many number of boats but you are limited to days,” Pokajam told journalists in Honolulu.

“And to our surprise a decade ago the value of the fisheries was about US$60 million now its more than US$400million. That’s the case because we exercise our rights and our sovereignty over the EEZ.

“The biggest threat that I can see is that they take away our rights to manage and to do whatever we want to do in our own National laws and at the same time through sub-regional and regional arrangements like the FFA, PNA and the Pacific Forum leaders.”

On Bigeye tuna, Pokajam said the Pacific must oppose US efforts to increase catch limits, saying the proposal did nothing to improve sustainable fishing.

Distant-water nations in Europe, China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have traditionally been reluctant to curb their tuna catches.

“It’s just because they see the green in all our fishery at the moment, Big Eye, Yellowfin, Skipjack, Pacific Albacore are all now in green,”Pokajam said.

“Our stock assessment is telling us that all our stocks are in green, safe zone. Just because we attain that good management and they try to come in to ride on it and I don’t I think we should agree with that.

“I think FFA member countries should reject that. I’m not part of the group that discuss this – I think I’ll leave it to them but I think we should not support that,” he said… PACNEWS

Japan does not support US big-eye proposal at Tuna Commission

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Japan believes that the US proposal to increase its bigeye catch limit is not fair.

The proposal would reward countries for better than minimum observer coverage on their longline vessels and for banning transshipment of fish. Transshipment is well-known as a key risk area for misreporting on fish catches and for potentially other illicit activities such as trafficking people or drugs.

FFA Members including Tonga have expressed strong concerns regarding the US proposal.

Head of Japan’s delegation to the Tuna Commission in Honolulu Mr Shingo Ota told Pacific Editors Japan does not like the US proposal as there are many other factors to be taken into account.

In the case of Japan, he said, they have been providing catch support which is a fundamental basis of stock assessment, therefore this scientific contribution should be appreciated.

The view from Japan is US is picking up only limited factors which are in favour of their operations and it is unfair. The United States has acknowledged it will be the only country eligible to benefit.

Ota also denied suggestions made in the US proposal that observer coverage on the Japanese fleet has gone down in the past year. He said the US figures are misleading and wrong. Ota emphasised that Japan is actually implementing its requirement for a minimum of 5% coverage.

He said while some of the fleets had little bit less than 5%, others had more than 5%.

On observers, Japan said it had had some unfortunate incidents in the past. Sometimes observers get depressed and they really want to return to port. Therefore, the fishing vessel had to quit fishing operations. Ota said Japan is working on this issue and that’s why electronic monitoring would be one of the solutions.

Pacific countries have proposed that this year’s Tuna Commission pass a resolution in supporting better working conditions for crew and observers working in the tuna fleets of all member countries.

Ina letter to the Commission the FFA Chair, Tepaeru Herrmann said: “The issue of poor labour conditions and mistreatment of workers on fishing vessels is vitally important, both to the Pacific and across the globe. Not only is the reputation of the WCPO fishery threatened by this, but our own citizens are at risk of being subjected to deplorable working conditions,”.

Ota said while Japan was very much supportive of the idea it the questioned if the Tuna Commission is best placed to handle this issue.

“The International Labor Organisation has a convention which deals with exactly the same topic so I think it would be natural to ask the members to ratify the Convention rather than discussing this issue at WCPFC,” Ota said

Japan fears the resolution, which is non-binding, might lead on to a push for binding labour standards.

It is easier to accept if it is a non-binding resolution, but what comes next is the question,”  Ota said. ……ENDS

Japan seeks to continue fishing in Palau waters

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Japan stressed the importance of its relationship with the Pacific, with most of the big scale fishing by the Japanese being centered in Pacific nations’ water.

Head of Delegation for Japan Shingo Ota, speaking at the Tuna Commission meeting in Honolulu said they were concerned about 20 small-scale longliners from Okinawa prefecture operating in Palau’s exclusive economic zone.

Mr Ota said those boats fear losing their livelihood once the island nation transition’s 80 percent of its waters to a no-fishing zone.

He said Japan is currently in talks with Palau to allow Okinawa fishermen to continue to fish in Palau after 2020 or the implementation of the Palau Marine Sanctuary.

“We are very much concerned because this is the main fishing ground for those 20 small-scale longliners. If Palau is going to close the area those vessels have nowhere to go,” Ota said.

He said Japan is requesting Palau to find a way, maybe through research, to allow the fishermen from Okinawa to continue fishing.

Ota, however, declined to give further details on the request.

Japan is one of Palau’s top foreign donors and the aid provided by Tokyo has helped the island nation to build roads and infrastructure.

By 2020, Palau is set to designate 80 percent of the nation’s maritime territory as a fully protected marine reserve in which no fishing or mining, can take place. 

Twenty percent of Palau’s waters will become a domestic fishing zone reserved for local fishermen and small-scale commercial fisheries with limited exports.

The marine sanctuary is President Tommy Remenegsau’s signature policy saying, Palau wants to lead the way in restoring the health of the ocean for future generations.

Japan speaks out on ‘unfair’ US proposal

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Japan said that the United States proposal to that the Tuna Commission increase its catch-quota on for bigeye tuna is “unfair,”

“I think the US is picking up only limited factors which are in favour of their operations. So, I think it is unfair,” the Head of Delegation for Japan Shingo Ota told reporters at the Tuna Commission meeting.

Pacific nations and other members of the WCPFC are locked in tense discussions over the future of the tropical tuna fishery which includes bigeye tuna as well as skipjack and yellowfin.

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

Ota was quick to criticise the US proposal, joining other Pacific nations in resisting any increase in the quota: “We don’t like it. 

“Their proposal is if a country has better observer coverage and does not conduct transshipment they can receive more allocation,” Ota said.

The US is seeking a higher catch limit for bigeye tuna by its Hawaii-based longline fishing fleet.

In its proposal, Washington highlights the significant levels of monitoring and control it maintains in the fishery, outperforming other members of the Commission.

The US points out that while large longline fleets are maintained by Japan, Korea and Taiwan have failed to meet the Commission’s minimum requirement of placing independent fisheries observers on 5 per cent of their vessels the Hawaii-based US fleet does better.

 Figures included in the proposal show the US fleet has achieved observer coverage of about 20 per cent in its deep-set fishery and 100% in its shallow-set fishery.

But Japan said the figures cited in the U.S proposal that suggest observer coverage on the Japanese fleet has gone down in the past year are “misleading.”

“Actually, the U.S figures are not correct and we are actually implementing 5% coverage. In some of the fleets a little bit less than 5% but some of the fleets are more than 5%,” Ota stated. 

FSM taps into technology for full tuna transparency

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The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is tapping into the latest high-tech surveillance technology to be its eyes on the vessels to monitor fishing activities in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) embarking on a commitment to Technology in Tuna Transparency Challenge.

Eugene Pangelinan Executive Director of the FSM National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA), said FSM is making use of emerging technologies to further improve national fisheries administrations, “to ensure that fish can be verified for traceability and transparency.”

Pangelinan, on the sidelines of the ongoing Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), said the goal is to use a variety of technology so that that they can collect detailed data on fishing effort, target catch composition, and bycatch of non-target species that come in on the vessels in FSM. 

Electronic Monitoring systems in fisheries use video cameras, remote sensors, satellites, and hard drives installed on fishing boats to provide a range of information, including information on retained and discarded catch. The data is provided to shore-based teams of analysts.

In tuna fisheries, gathering information in this way is particularly important in the longline fisheries where the very large number of smaller vessels makes it challenging to achieve the 5% percent target coverage by on board fisheries observers.

Pangelinan said the data it will ensure that “tuna caught in FSM was harvested legally, sustainably and without slave labor.”

FSM President Peter Christian at the Our Oceans Conference in Bali, Indonesia in October vowed to have all fleets active in its waters comply with full transparency by 2023.

Christian challenged other nations to do the same, commit to full tuna transparency by 2023 in what is known at the T-3 Challenge or Technology for Tuna Transparency Challenge.

 “By taking this lead, the FSM are committed to full tuna transparency that we hope will promote a worldwide shift in fishing practices and set the stage for global seafood market transformation for the betterment of us, and our oceans,” Pangelinan said.

 To kick start the initiative, Pangelinan said the Nature Conservancy have announced a $2.5M funding goal to support the T-3 Challenge.

Pangelinan stressed the technology is not aimed at replacing human observers but rather enhancing the compliance monitoring system. Observers provide a different kind of information and are important in ground-truthing information gained through electronic monitoring.

Pangelinan said the shore-based analysis centers will provide jobs for Pacific Islanders with observer experience.

He said FSM is falling behind WCPFC requirements of five percent coverage because of the logistical issues about placing these independent observers on long liners when they traverse the Pacific for long months and often do not return to the port from where they started their trip.  

FSM is hoping that Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and WCPFC will partner with them to achieve the Tuna Transparency challenge by 2023.  

“I think we will achieve it, but it’s just that it would be very helpful and strengthen and support us for others to have the same commitment,” Pangelinan said.

PNA officials recently considered the development of a PNA E-Monitoring Program at a workshop in Honiara. 

According to an earlier statement, PNA said the workshop was a response to both the decision of PNA Ministers to put a priority on developing a PNA E-Monitoring Program, and President Christian’s call for 100 percent coverage of longline fishing vessels by electronic monitoring by 2023.  

In FSM, revenues from fisheries account for 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which translates to about $50 to $60 million a year.

High seas transshipments of tuna targeted for action

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Honolulu 13 December 2018 — Pacific Island fisheries leaders want the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to effectively address a serious management gap in the tuna fishery: high seas tuna transshipments.

  The existing Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) measure governing transshipment was adopted in 2009 and is intended for review next year. 

  Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members, including the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) bloc, want to see a WCPFC review process that is comprehensive and results in significant strengthening of the current measure.

   Ina letter last month to WCPFC Executive Director Feleti Teo, Forum Fisheries Committee Chairperson Tepaeru Herrmann expressed the concern of FFA members that insufficient regulation, monitoring and reporting of tuna transshipment, particularly on the high seas, was contributing to distort the reporting of catches.

  Ms. Herrmann said the current system of unmonitored transshipments on the high seas also exposed WCPFC members, cooperating non-members and participating territories (known as CCMs), and the wider Pacific region, to increased risks of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and transnational criminal activity.    

   Subject to not infringing on the right of CCMs to regulate transshipment occurring in areas under national jurisdiction, the WCPFC has a responsibility to effectively regulate transshipment activities to address these risks, she said.

  The aim of FFA members is to see all transshipments in the WCPFC area occurring in port. The FFA’s position is consistent with Article 29 of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention which provides that “the members of the Commission shall encourage their vessels, to the extent practicable, to conduct transshipment in port.”

  The PNA already requires all purse seine vessels operating in their waters to transship tuna in ports, which allows for monitoring of catch and other compliance measures to be enforced. PNA is also gearing to implement a ban on high seas bunkering for fishing vessels by fuel tankers beginning in2020. Currently, however, only a fraction of longline vessels transship their tuna catches in the ports of FFA members.  

   The current level and regulation of high seas transshipment activity is inconsistent with the objective of the WCPF Convention, said FFA Director General Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen and PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru in comments Thursday during the ongoing annual meeting of the WCPFC in Honolulu.

   Under the current WCPFC measure, there is to be no transshipment on the high seas except where a CCM has determined it is impracticable for its vessels to operate without being able to transship on the high seas. The measure requires CCMs to inform the WCPFC of any of their vessels transshipping on the high seas.

   The WCPFC measure requires a declaration prior to transshipping on the high seas, and a report after the operation is completed. A Final Compliance Monitoring Review report,which will address compliance with these and other provisions of the measure,is to be issued as part of the review of the 2009 measure scheduled for next year.

    The basis for approving high seas transshipments is that prohibition would cause significant economic hardship to vessels. This would be assessed in terms of the costs incurred and if in-port transshipment would require the vessel to make significant and substantial changes to its historical mode of operation as a result of the prohibition of transshipment on the high seas.

   “There is no proper mechanism for review of the transshipment justification and there is a shortfall in compliance with WCPFC reporting provisions,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen.“This situation is untenable and results in high risks that catch data is not accurately and effectively reported.”

  She said FFA members are anxious to see the review of this 2009 transshipment conservation and management measure undertaken with diligence and a focus on compliance.

   She also noted the initiatives of many members to roll out electronic monitoring systems on longline vessels as a means of improving coverage for a sector of the Pacific tuna fishery that is currently not well monitored.

   “In2013, FFA facilitated the first electronic monitoring trials for longline vessels in the region in collaboration with SPC and industry. This trial coupled electronic systems with human observers to compare data in the context of WCPFC observer requirements,” she said.

More recently, four members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement — Palau, FSM, Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands — have engaged in a trial of electronic monitoring of longline vessels,using video cameras and training fisheries officers to use software programs to evaluate the film collected on longline vessels.

   “We need an outcome from this review (of the high seas transshipment measure) that properly addresses the reporting risks and results in the receipt of timely,complete and well-documented data from transshipment activity,” said Mr. Kumoru.

“Our position is to move as quickly as possible to a complete ban of all high seas transshipment. PNA already requires all purse seiners to transship their catch in port. We think all transshipments should take place in ports in our region. In-port transshipment generates economic benefits for our members as well as eliminating IUU and other risks inherent in unmonitored high seas transshipments.”

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 FFA media coordinator Donna Hoarder on email:donna,hoarder@ffa.int.