The powerful Pacific island fisheries bloc PNA opened a multi-million dollar, four-story headquarters in Majuro May 6. The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), which controls waters where half of the world’s skipjack tuna is caught, held a “soft” opening for the recently completed headquarters building. It was built by local contractor Pacific International Inc.
Since it was first established in Majuro in 2010, the organization has been responsible for a nearly 10-fold increase in revenue generated for nine island governments through a management scheme known as the “vessel day scheme” that regulates purse seine fishing in the region.
But, said Marshall Islands fisheries chief Glen Joseph at Thursday’s opening of the new PNA offices, PNA members are not only benefiting financially from PNA management of the fishery. “PNA is sustainably managing the fishery, conserving tuna for future generations,” said Joseph. “The four tuna (types) in the Pacific are all healthy and being fished sustainably.” This is a result of PNA’s management and oversight of fishing operations in the region, he said.
Joseph contrasted this positive fisheries stock situation in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean with other oceans around the globe where various tuna specifies are being overfished.
PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru explained that Thursday’s blessing of the building and small gathering was a “soft” opening, with the official opening to be held at a later date when border entry restrictions due to Covid-19 are eased, allowing government leaders from the PNA nations to meet in the Marshall Islands. The borders of the Marshall Islands have been closed since March 2020 due to Covid.
PNA members are Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau, with Tokelau a participating island.
PNA’s vessel day scheme regulates the total number of fishing days that can be sold in a year, with each of the nine participating islands having a share of these to sell to the fishing industry or trade among each other. The share to the islands of the multi-billion dollar skipjack tuna fishery has increased in value from $60 million in 2010 to nearly $500 million in 2019 because of the vessel day scheme.
The four-story PNA complex will house staff who manage the vessel day scheme, fisheries compliance, financial accounting, and PNA’s fisheries information management system that generates data informing management decisions about the fishery.