Crucial turning point for world’s biggest fishery

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The Western Pacific tuna fishery is balanced on a knife edge, with over-fishing, rogue fishing activities and an insatiable demand for fish placing heavy pressure on this rich resource.

Bigeye tuna at just 16% of its natural population levels is now below the 20% level that automatically restricts fishing activity in countries like Australia.

Jemima GarrettJemima Garrett, an former ABC journalist covering Pacific affairs for the last 30 years, told a training group of leading journalists from Pacific countries they had a crucial role to keep the public informed.

“There’s lots of important information locked up in research reports, and your job is to put it into the public arena,” she says.  “Think of it as shining a light into dark corners.”

Ms Garrett described the ‘frightening efficiency” of modern fishing methods, where an operator in remote countries can read sonar and GPS systems to direct trawlers to large schools.


“We have to keep Pacific people informed.  They rely on radio, television, newspapers and the web to hear about threats to tuna, and issues such as the potentially damaging fishing technique of using fish aggregating devices,” she says.

“This is where a journalist skilled in digging out the information can be vital.”

The battle for the Pacific fisheries is being led by key groups such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Parties to the Nauru Arrangement, and international agreements such as the Nauru Agreement and, in recent years, the Tokelau arrangement.

National governments of Pacific nations and territories, industry associations such as PITIA, environmental groups and coastal communities all have an important role.

Ms Garrett says there is a huge demand for fish, with growing world population and an increasing awareness of the health benefits of eating fish.

“This is giving fishing fleets every incentive to maximise their catch.  There are tremendous vested interests here, and they will just keep fishing if there are no rules.”

Bigeye tuna stocks at all time low in Pacific

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Bigeye tuna stocks are down to just 16% of their original population causing concern for fishers and conservationists

Bigeye tuna stocks are down to just 16% of their original population causing concern for fishers and conservationists

New report to build on Pacific strengths in Tuna fisheries

Categories @WCPFC13, FFA Media Fellows past eventsPosted on


30th November,  2016. FFA HQ, Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS – A new report into the strengths and challenges facing fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance in the Pacific has highlighted how targeted action to ensure Tuna catch reporting, data, and information can add to Pacific strengths in watching over tuna fisheries.






The Regional MCS Report, by an independent consultant, was commissioned by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, FFA, after the 2015 Leaders Forum tasked Fisheries, Economic and Foreign Ministers to undertake a joint comprehensive evaluation of the regional monitoring, control and surveillance, and compliance regime.

To address the Leaders’ directive, a three-pronged approach was undertaken that included: a Ministerial review, an evaluation by an independent consultant, and a peer review of the evaluation. The report highlights the strength of the current MCS regime within FFA, complementing the summary statement from the Ministerial grouping (which included law enforcement and defence Ministers in addition to the three portfolios identified by Leaders) that “the combination of tools, programs, assets and activities at the national and regional level represents a world class MCS Framework that has achieved positive results for FFA members.”

However, the report also identifies specific areas that require targeted development and improvement. The three main recommendations from the report for strengthening regional MCS framework are as follows:
1.       Mandate operators of vessels registered and licensed to fish in FFA waters to electronically report catch log sheet data prior to exiting an FFA member EEZ, undertaking transhipment or landing. Effective 1 October 2017;
2.       Mandate operators of vessels registered to fish in FFA waters to keep catch of a fishing trip separate from other catch until certified by a person authorised by the relevant Coastal State that the catch and effort data is accurate and caught in accordance with Coastal State laws. Effective 1 October 2017;
3.       Apply a risk based performance monitoring program that has quantitative metrics to monitor and evaluate the impact of MCS activities on their objective to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

Welcoming the response from Pacific leaders to the report, FFA Director General James Movick says the evaluation will help to shape regional MCS work and assist national efforts.

“The Regional MCS Evaluation Report is useful for both FFA Members and the FFA Secretariat as it not only highlights many of the strengths of the regional MCS framework which must be maintained, but most importantly, identifies key areas for improvement,” he says.

“Further actions to address the concerns highlighted would be best approached from both national efforts and regional coordination to further strengthen the MCS framework for Pacific nations supporting sustainable fisheries management in our Oceanic Fishery, and of course, minimise Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing.”

A 2016 estimate of Pacific IUU identified that unreported or misreporting data either by the catching or post-harvest sector contributes 76% by volume of IUU fishing in the Pacific.

The public-domain version of the Regional MCS evaluation is attached ENDS

The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) strengthens national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future. Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA’s 17 Pacific Island members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.  Since 1979, FFA has facilitated regional cooperation so that all Pacific countries benefit from the sustainable use of tuna – a multi-billion dollar resource important for many people’s livelihoods in the Pacific.

CONTACT FFA MEDIA:  Email:    Tel: + 677 7574230 (Mob.