TUNA STAKEHOLDERS MEET TO DISCUSS SUSTAINABILITY OF INDUSTRY
The Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) successfully hosted a Tuna Talanoa at the PIDF Secretariat at 56 Domain Road, Nasese, Suva yesterday Wednesday 20th August 2014.
The global tuna supply chain is heavily dependent on tuna supplies from the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), with almost 60% of global catch taken from the region. Pacific Island countries (PICs) are the primary custodians of WCPO tuna resources, as the majority of WCPO catch is taken from within their EEZs.
For many PICs, tuna represents the only available resource for potential economic development. In the past several years, concerns over the health of tuna populations and resource sustainability have steadily become a part of mainstream debates in the tuna sector.
The Talanoa therefore was convened to provide a platform to exchange ideas and investigate optimal approaches to mitigate impacts of unsustainable fishing practices and ensure sustainability of tuna fisheries.
Stakeholders from the tuna industry from the public sector, private sector and civil society were briefed by Dr. Transform Aqorau, Chief Executive Officer, Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Office on regional measures to reform fisheries management that focuses on sustainable practices that conserve ecosystems, but also sustain livelihoods and ensure food security. These include the new electronic Fisheries Information and Management System (FIMS) that is used by national fisheries agencies to manage the Vessel Day Scheme including monitoring fishing in PNA waters.
“The focus of PNA efforts to sustainably manage tuna is the Vessel Day Scheme. PNA members agree on a limited number of fishing days for the year, based on scientific advice 2 | P a g e
about the status of the tuna stocks. Fishing days are then allocated by country and sold to the highest bidder. In this way, Pacific Islanders reap economic benefits from their sustainable management of tuna. The current minimum price of a fishing day for foreign fishing vessels is $6000 USD and the Vessel Day Scheme is worth $240 million. PNA management of the purse seine skipjack fishery has resulted in a four-fold increase in revenues flowing to the eight PNA member nations1,” explained Dr Agorau.
Dr Aqorau went on to state, “The most important card in the hand of PICs is their collective sovereignty over the tuna resource. Improved economic benefits are only likely to be achieved if PICs cooperate to ensure that they are not picked-off and/or played off against each other by Distant Water Fishing Nations, and that they strategically limit access to the resource to create scarcity and in turn increase the value of the tuna and at the same ensure resource sustainability.”
Speaking after the discussions the PIDF Secretary General Mr Feleti Teo said,
“Tuna is a vital renewable resource for the economies of the Pacific Island countries, in particular for those that have limited land based resources, if it is managed properly. Although most of the tuna fisheries are still in reasonably good health, there are tuna species like the Bigeye that the data are indicating to being overfished and thus imperative that effective management and conservation measures are put in place as soon as possible.
PNA has been a leader in implementing conservation measures that have the two-fold impact of maintaining tuna stocks within sustainable levels and increasing the value of the fishery for the islands by limiting fishing efforts.
Today’s talanoa session has been worthwhile, highly educational and insightful and interactive and provided participants an opportunity to exchange information with the purpose of promoting awareness on the critical need for effective tuna conservation and management in the world’s largest tuna fishery – the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.”