PNA Ministers Meeting on tuna
Ministers and officials from eight Pacific islands met in Kiribati in July at the annual PNA Ministers Meeting to address conservation and business management issues for the multi-billion dollar western and central Pacific tuna fishery.
Decisions covered everything from the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) for purse seiners and longliners, to recognition of outgoing CEO Dr. Transform Aqorau and confirmation of the appointment of Ludwig Kumoru as the new CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).
The fisheries leaders expressed “great satisfaction at the increase in economic returns from their tuna resources” that has resulted largely from the VDS management system for purse seine fishing. They endorsed that “there is no need to change the management of the purse seine VDS in the foreseeable future.”
On conservation, the ministers welcomed progress by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in adopting a Target Reference Point for the skipjack tuna stock and agreed that it is essential that the skipjack stock be maintained at this level for the sustainable development of the PNA Parties and other Pacific Island countries. But the meeting stressed the need to rebuild the depleted stock of bigeye tuna.
Ministers agreed that management of fishing within PNA waters “will be further improved by the programs for fish aggregating device (FAD) charging and tracking” and decided that FAD tracking, monitoring and charging trials, launched earlier this year, will continue through 2018 to improve management and control of FADs and fishing on FADs.
On the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS), the ministers expressed appreciation that the purse seine VDS is running increasingly smoothly and the longline VDS is now in force with eight VDS participants committed to implementing the scheme. Ministers agreed to the fishing day allocation known as the “Parties Allowed Effort” (PAE) for 2017 and 2018, which for the eight PNA nations and Tokelau is capped at 45,590 fishing days.
Ministers also agreed on the need to build on the power of the VDS to leverage domestic development to secure more benefits from wider participation in the value chain for tuna products.
A proposal by the Marshall Islands for the PNA Office to provide support to proposals for improving fisheries observer safety was endorsed. This includes working with the Forum Fisheries Commission at the ministerial level on the issue and providing comments to a draft proposal from the United States on observer safety that is to be presented to the WCPFC Annual Meeting in December.
The Ministerial Meeting in Kiritimati Island included ministers from the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, and officials from Papua New Guinea, Palau and Tokelau.
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