The Western and Central Pacific Ocean holds the world’s largest tuna fishery with a total catch of more than 2.5 million tons a year, but the Pacific Islands are aware of the need to protect this rich resource.
According to the Forum Fisheries Agency the target species (albacore, skipjack, bigeye and yellowfin) are being managed at sustainable levels and there is no overfishing occurring for these stocks. This is in stark contrast to all other oceans.
“On World Tuna Day we are reminded of the need to maximise the economic and social benefits from tuna for our people, our communities and our Pacific region. We are also reminded of the critical importance of protecting this rich resource,” said FFA Director General, Dr. Manu Tupou-Roosen.
“But we can’t achieve this unless we continue to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and use our world leading frameworks for cooperation such as the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA).”
The Niue Treaty is an agreement on cooperation between FFA members about monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing - it includes provisions on exchange of information (about where the position and speed of vessels at sea, which vessels are without licences) plus procedures for cooperation in monitoring, prosecuting and penalising illegal fishing vessels.
While chairing the NTSA session at the 110th Forum Fisheries Committee officials meeting, National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) Executive Director, Eugene Pangelinan reminded delegates that “The NTSA provides members with a legally binding framework to work together to enhance monitoring, control and surveillance activities and ensure sustainability of our tuna resources in order to combat IUU fishing.”
He added that “One way to ensure we have maximum economic returns whilst achieving sustainability of the resource is by sharing information and resources as and when required, to help keep IUU fishing out of the Pacific neighbourhood and that is done through agreements like the NTSA.”
World Tuna Day
Two years ago the United Nations mandated World Tuna Day in recognition of the need to raise awareness about the importance of tuna and to promote more sustainable fishing practices.
The FFA is the cornerstone for cooperation between Pacific Island countries in the management of their shared tuna resources. The FFA Secretariat also provides support to its members with monitoring, control and surveillance activities through national capacity building and regional initiatives. FFA members are leading the way in eliminating IUU fishing through the Regional Aerial Surveillance Program, Regional Observer Program, Vessel Monitoring Scheme, Information and technology services, and working with member countries on innovative new tools such as the Persons of Interest Strategy.
FFA staff currently attending the 110th Forum Fisheries Committee officials meeting in Pohnpei are joining World Tuna Day celebrations in a fishing tournament organised by NORMA. A celebration to also acknowledge 40 years of existence for two Pacific fisheries organisations - FFA and NORMA.