PNA sees positive outcomes from WCPFC13

As the dust settles from the flurry of final-day actions of the 13th Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission annual meeting in Fiji, it is clear the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA)

made solid gains by achieving the majority of goals they set out to accomplish during the five-day session.

“All PNA members and PNA Office staff worked day and night over the past two weeks to secure numerous positive outcomes for our fishery,” said Ludwig Kumoru reflecting on the outcomes the day after the WCPFC meeting finished Friday.

“PNAO members and staff worked closely with other members of the Forum Fisheries Agency and their staff to produce good results. As FFA Deputy Director Wez Norris said Friday night, the meeting produced ‘unspectacular but positive progress.’ Our hard work paid off.”

For all PNA members, adoption of the observer safety measure was the highlight of the long and sometimes tedious grind of the 5-9 December annual meeting.

The observer safety measure was a victory for all fisheries observers who place their lives on the line every time they go to sea, and an important development in the evolution of WCPFC. “The result demonstrates the power we have as a united force to get policy measures at the WCPFC,” said Mr. Kumoru. “We were not going to walk away from WCPFC 13 without a measure to protect our observers.” Passage of this measure will immediately improve the situation for fisheries observers.

Mr. Kumoru said PNA didn’t get everything it hoped for. “But we accomplished the majority of our pre-WCPFC goals,” he said.

Among the important accomplishments for PNA members from the WCPFC annual meeting: • PNA positions are well reflected in the WCPFC Chair’s text on the Bridging Tropical Tuna Conservation and Management Measure (CMM), which will help drive the process in 2017; • Good progress was made on developing the skipjack tuna Harvest Strategy; • Action was taken to fix the Japanese CMM on Charters, data provisions in CMM for Rays, and the Emergency Rule standards to include NAF (North Atlantic Fisheries Format for data reporting); • A positive outcome was achieved for PNA members with the exemption from the high seas FAD closure;

• The Japanese capacity management proposal and the United States proposal for more high seas fishing days were both blocked; • Clarification was gained that vessel day scheme (VDS) obligations are collective with the PNA region, blocking European Union and United States attempts to have them assessed as individual Parties Allowed Effort-level obligations; • A request was registered for next year’s bigeye tuna assessment to take under-reporting into account; • All of the FAD Intercessional Working Group recommendations were included and WCPFC participation in the FAO FAD meeting was blocked.

On the downside, no penalty for the United States longline fleet’s non-compliance with catch limits was assessed. “Holding WCPFC members to account for violations of fishing limits will continue to be high on PNA’s agenda,” said Mr. Kumoru.

“Many of the developments in PNA’s favor coming out of the WCPFC annual meeting are building blocks for improving conservation and management in-zone and on the high seas,” he said. “These are good outcomes and our members should take pride in a job well done at WCPFC 13.”

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna (a popular tuna for canned products). The eight members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. Tokelau is a participating partner in implementing the Vessel Day Scheme together with the eight member nations.

PNA has been a champion for marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including closures of high seas pockets, seasonal bans on use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), satellite tracking of boats, in port transshipment, 100 percent observer coverage of purse seiners, closed areas for conservation, mesh size regulations, tuna catch retention requirements, hard limits on fishing effort, prohibitions against targeting whale sharks, shark action plans, and other conservation measures to protect the marine ecosystem.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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