HONIARA, 4 June, 2021 – The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is stepping up efforts to stop the dumping of plastic waste at sea in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).

The agency has completed a consultancy study into ways of improving compliance with the rules. It focuses on plastic waste dumped by tuna fishing vessels.

Since 1 January 2019, the central fisheries management organisation for the area, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), has prohibited the dumping of plastic waste through conservation and management measure (CMM) 2017-04.

FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said the study was one step towards cleaning up plastic pollution in the ocean environment.

“CMM 2017-04 is an excellent step in the right direction, and getting the CMM agreed to was a huge win for Pacific Island states. But the reality is we need to do more to discourage fishing vessels dumping plastic overboard while at sea,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

“With our study, we want to focus more on incentives that will help fishers comply with the rules. To do that, we have to know what is dumped and how much, by different types of fishing vessels. It’s a very complex operation to collect data and then calculate quantities.

“It’s not as simple as keeping waste on board and offloading it at Pacific Island ports, because the waste facilities of many of our small island nations are already full.”

She said the consultants who conducted the study had experience in commercial oceanic fishing, monitoring tuna fishing, and managing waste in the region.

“So, we now have well informed expert advice on how to more effectively promote and monitor compliance with CMM 2017-04 and improve mitigation of fishing vessel plastic waste dumping through requiring fishing vessels to comply with the rules,” Dr Tupou-Roosen said.

“On this World Environment Day, it is important to acknowledge all the efforts that all people are making, step by step, on fishing vessels and in our regional fisheries organisations, to clean up our world and our oceans.”

The study was undertaken in the period January to March and tabled at the annual FFA MCS Working Group meeting and the 118th meeting of the Forum Fisheries Committee.

The work provides a detailed analysis of the volumes of plastic waste generated by fishing vessels, current disposal practices and challenges, and a series of key actions that can be taken both at regional and national levels.

“The challenge now is to support national and regional efforts to better mitigate plastic waste dumping and this is a challenge for all of us to take up” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.

 

For more information, contact Samantha Mattila, FFA Strategic Communications Manager, samantha.mattila@ffa.int, +61 434 567 673.

 

About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)

FFA assists its 17 member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members, who make decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management. Find out more at www.ffa.int.

 

Header image: Once emptied of their salt, plastic salt bags used in purse-seine fishing are often re-used in the construction of fish-aggregating devices. Photo: Francisco Blaha.