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Pacific Islands

Pacific Islands look at new initiatives for sustainable fishing

Majuro, Marshall Islands

Pacific Island countries are aiming to improve and expand the management of tuna fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean under the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

The Parties aim to implement a range of initiatives by 2020 that will generate more income all while ensuring marine conservation.

PNA CEO, Ludwig Kumoru said that this is a big year for PNA with many initiatives in the development stage.

One initiative is to secure long-term allocation of fishing days under the Purse Seine Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) which successfully generates an income nearing $500 million annually.

“Establishing a long-term allocation of fishing days for each Party would provide more certainty to industry and parties in managing the VDS,” said Mr Kumoru.

In addition, individual members are also looking at expanding fishing industry links to increase share of fishery value spent in PNA economies on top of VDS revenues.

Other initiatives include managing Longline VDS; fish aggregating device (FAD) tracking and monitoring; high seas bunkering ban; eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and for 100 percent electronic monitoring (EM) of fishing vessels; reviewing progress of the recent Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting; as well as business plans and office development.

PNA has many developments in the pipeline to improve and expand management of the fishery,” said Mr Kumoru.

“We are also seeing more activity from individual parties to look at how they can increase revenue-generating opportunities and participation in the sector. The VDS system offers spin-off business development opportunities for the individual Parties and the PNA Office is helping to facilitate some of these initiatives.”

Eight Pacific Island countries are Parties to the Nauru Agreement and control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery which supplies 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna. The eight members include Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. Tokelau is a participating partner in implementing the Vessel Day Scheme together with the eight member nations.

PNA also champions marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including closures of high seas pockets, seasonal bans on use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), satellite tracking of boats, in port transshipment, 100 percent observer coverage of purse seiners, closed areas for conservation, mesh size regulations, tuna catch retention requirements, hard limits on fishing effort, prohibitions against targeting whale sharks, shark action plans, and other conservation measures to protect the marine ecosystem.