Fisheries Ministers Urged To Capitalize On Success Of PNA To Add Value To Industry

RMI President opens meeting by recognizing revenue jump from $60 to $500 million in seven years

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, June 23, 2017) – Government ministers from Pacific islands that control a lucrative tuna fishery were urged to capitalize on the global focus on ocean conservation to expand their internationally recognized initiatives.

The annual meeting of ministers representing the Parties to the Nauru Agreement or PNA opened in Majuro Wednesday with Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine recognizing the organization for growing the fisheries revenue of members nations from about $60 million to nearly $500 million in seven years.

She urged fisheries leaders not to be complacent because of PNA’s success, but instead to “capitalize on it” by finding ways to add value to the fishery.

“The world’s oceans have garnered unprecedented high-level attention on the world stage and rightly so,” she said, referring to the recently concluded U.N. Oceans Conference in New York. “We should all seize the opportunity and utilize it as motivation toward strengthening our collective initiatives.”

Island leaders at this week’s three-day meeting in Majuro will hear reports on development of the organization’s fishery management system known as the “vessel day scheme” for purse seine and longline fishing vessels. At the UN Oceans Conference, “our own PNA purse seine vessel day scheme or VDS was touted as a model that the rest of the world can use toward achieving [U.N.] Sustainable Development Goal 14,” said Heine.

The nine islands that manage PNA’s VDS control waters where 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna, as well as large volumes of yellowfin and bigeye tuna, are caught.

The key to PNA’s success, Heine said, is the unity and mutual respect of the members. Heine announced the Marshall Islands as host of the PNA headquarters will build a new office facility for PNA in line with its growth. She urged strengthening of the PNA Office as the administrator for PNA nations.

PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru echoed this point, saying that for PNA to maximize benefits to the members, institutional strengthening of both the PNA Office and of member fisheries departments is essential. “We need to be creative to get more out of the resource,” Kumoru said. “We need strong institutions to do this.”

Earlier this week, visiting fisheries officials toured a newly established small-scale cannery in Majuro that was established following a tuna canning training run by PNA in Majuro last year. The new cannery is targeting the domestic market.

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