By Yvette D’Unienville
Papua New Guinea has called on the Pacific Tuna Commission to take urgent action to control fishing on the high seas.
Fishing rules for the high seas are set by the commission and are much more lenient than the rules Pacific countries impose in their own waters.
At a meeting of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) in Bali, the PNA CEO Transform Aqorau supported Papua New Guinea’s call saying PNA nations are united on the need to control high seas fishing and stop the overfishing of bigeye tuna.
“These are two issues we are anxious to resolve,” he said.
The high seas are where much illegal fishing, transhipment and human trafficking happens.
In the eastern high seas fishing using fish aggregating devices (FADs) net the highest bycatch of bigeye tuna while further west the bigeye bycatch is smaller.
Despite that PNA countries have agreed to implement 4-month FAD closures to help conserve bigeye.
The PNG Ambassador said measures such as the FAD closures impose a disproportionate burden on Small Island Developing States because the benefits of the conservation of bigeye tuna are enjoyed by fishing States.
Ambassador Ilau urged the Commission to take urgent action to address issues on the high seas and recognise the sovereignty of coastal states to develop their fisheries.
Transform Aqorau reminded delegates that tuna catches in the PNA 200-mile exclusive economic zones have remained stable over the past five years, while catches on the high seas have increased dramatically, due to lack of control.
The Nauru Agreement is an Oceania subregional agreement between the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Island, Nauru, Palau,Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. The eight signatories collectively control 25–30% of the world's tuna supply and approximately 60% of the western and central Pacific tuna supply.