The Parties to the Nauru Agreement’s (PNA’s) 37th Officials Meeting, held this year in Nauru, included welcoming a new chair, a summary of 2017 accomplishments, a look to the future and a plethora of facts and figures to assist informed decision making. More than 60 attendees included officials from the eight member countries and Tokelau, PNA office (PNAO) staff, science organization experts from Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), consultants from Finology and interested parties from fisheries industries.
Opening ceremonies included handing over the PNA chairmanship.
As 2017 Chair, MIMRA Director Glen Joseph handed the reins to Nauru Marine Resources CEO Charleston Deiye. In so doing, he recapped PNA’s accomplishments for the past year. These included the groundbreaking for the new PNA headquarters building to be constructed in Majuro, planned with expansion in mind. In addition, Papua New Guinea is purchasing the e-monitoring and e-reporting system used by PNA, capitalizing on emerging technologies to help the organization move forward. Joseph also cited the recent MSC recertification of PNA’s free-school skipjack and yellowfin purse seine fisheries and lauded the success of the second PNA Leaders Summit held recently in Majuro.
Joseph also spoke of the future, seeing further growth, review of both the purse seine and longline Vessel Day Schemes, and addressing measures made by the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission as important agenda items.
He concluded his remarks saying: “We want to manage our fishery to the best of our ability in the best interest of our people. Our interest is our people and their struggles.”
PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru delineated the direction the member countries’ leaders have tasked for PNA, including the creation of a strategic plan and strengthening good governance and management of PNA, items to be addressed during the officials meeting.
In addition, Kumoru said there will need to be more coordination and training of the use of iFIMS, the e-monitoring system, and implementation of the longline VDS. There was also a call for the parties to provide better data to improve the economic analysis of the PNA fishery.
In PNA Commercial Manager Maurice Brownjohn’s annual report from the commercial side of PNA, he noted tuna prices were at a record high in 2017. He also noted that Pacifical, the marketing company co-owned by PNA marketed 150 million co-branded units (cans, packages, etc.) sold globally in over 30 countries. He proudly pointed out that the fish in those products were caught in PNA waters, are MSC certified and co-branded as Pacifical.
Brownjohn also discussed fish aggregating devices (FADs). As 35,000 FADs were registered in PNA waters over the past two years, Brownjohn says “we need enforcement, but it won’t be easy as FADs are traded, loaned and grouped by fleets.” FAD closures, he concluded, “create an economic burden on all of the Parties. We know little of the dynamics of FADs on stocks other than the ongoing concerns of bycatch and clear evidence of the demise of stocks in other ocean regions where FAD dependence is higher than here. Clearly we can and must better manage FADs and maintain sustainability to keep our stocks in the green.”
Richard Banks, economic consultant to PNA, presented the economics of both the PNA purse seine and longline industries. He envisages stable and increasing tuna prices over the next year, both for skipjack and yellowfin, citing several reasons for his predictions. His presentation sparked healthy exchange among the officials regarding benchmark prices for both the purse seine and the longline vessel days.
PNAO Consultant Les Clark wrapped up the first day’s meeting with charts that compared PNA’s waters to the other oceans. When the fish caught in the other three oceans, the Eastern Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian, are added together the sum is less than amount of the fish caught in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). Moreover, the four tuna species caught commercially for food are all “green,” meaning not overfished, in the WCPO — this is a boast none of the other three oceans can make at this time. Just this fact alone makes PNA’s tuna more valuable. Why are they “green?” Clark replies, “measures, measures, measures.” How will we keep it “green?” “More measures, measures, measures.”
Read more about this in the April 6, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.