admin's picture

Eight nations in quest to control tuna

By Giff Johnson MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, April 30, 2010) – The opening of the new fisheries headquarters in Majuro, Marshalls for the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) nations is a sign of strength, not discord, for improving tuna management in the region, Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Director General Dan Sua said last week.

The FFA, based in the Solomon Islands, represents 17 island member states, while the PNA represents eight FFA members, but the ones that control the ocean area where a majority of the US$3 billion in tuna is caught annually.

"We will complement each other and avoid duplication," Sua said in an interview following a fisheries ministers meeting that approved a resolution giving legal status to the new PNA secretariat in Majuro, which was officially opened Thursday last week.

The mandate for both FFA and the PNA is to recognize opportunities to put in place measures for the sustainability of tuna fisheries in the region, Sua said. "If there is no fish, we can’t develop."

"Legal agreements establishing island states sovereign rights are in already place," he added. "The key for the two regional fisheries organizations is to coordinate among ourselves properly," he said.

The PNA represents Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Palau, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands.

At the first PNA Presidential Summit in February in Palau, leaders approved closure of high seas areas to purse seine fishing affecting an area of 4,555,000 sq. km. in the Western and Central Pacific and supported controls on fishing through a vessel day scheme.

The PNA officials that met here did not agree on a strategy for improving the recently implemented vessel day scheme, a management tool used for selling and trading fishing days, and a number of other tuna conservation measures were still on the table for discussion by officials on Friday last week.

Sua said he was not disappointed in the progress made in Majuro.

Five to 10 years ago, there was nothing in place, he said. "Tuna are highly migratory species and a trans-boundary resource that is highly challenging to manage. We don¹t expect to put in management mechanisms overnight."

Although all eight PNA nations are in agreement on the way forward for managing tuna in the region, there are still competing national interests to be worked resolved, Sua said.

"Each member country that depends on tuna will have to make huge sacrifices in their bilateral relationships (with distant water fishing nations)," Sua said. "Our members are working through these issues. The basic framework is laid. Now it’s translating that into action."

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment