MARSHALL ISLANDS: Leaders of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) point out that zone-based management of tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific works effectively, adding that there is no interest in replacing it with a different management arrangement.
“Zone-based management works for conservation and business development,” said Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph, who chairs the PNA.
In addition, PNA Chief Executive Officer Ludwig Kumoru said: “PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) is contributing to sustaining tuna stocks and is providing improved quality of data on fish stocks and harvests.”
The VDS, which is the management mechanism adopted by PNA members to manage fishing in their exclusive economic zones, sets a “hard limit” on the number of fishing days allowed by purse seine fishing vessels in the region, and related measures enforced by PNA require all purse seine fishing vessels to have an independent fisheries observer on board to record catch data, an annual three-month moratorium on the use of fish aggregating devices, in-port transshipment for further monitoring, and other conservation measures.
Although some distant water fishing nations are promoting “flag state” rights for the western and central Pacific, Joseph and Kumoru said this will not gain support from coastal island states.
Kumoru explained that revenue accruing to PNA islands has risen from USD 60 million annually in 2010 to close to USD 500 million this year as a result of the implementation of the VDS.
“From the increasing revenue, hospitals are being built, roads are being paved, government operations are being funded. It’s not about cutting out the distant water fishing nations. It’s about developing the capacity of our islands to fish our own waters and process the catch,” Joseph stressed.
He also explained that as part of zone-based management, PNA has successfully developed the VDS for purse seiners and that now they are going to do the same for the longline industry.
“We recognize it is a different fishery, but it has been left unmanaged for too long,” the director stated, acknowledging that PNA needs the support of the region’s fisheries management organization, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, on compatible management measures for the longline industry as it moves forward with implementing the VDS for longliners.
PNA chief noted that island nations outside of the eight-member PNA are expressing interest in joining PNA to manage longline vessels through the VDS, which he considers to be a major contributor to fisheries data flow and stock assessments through the use of 100 percent observer coverage of purse seine vessels and port monitoring of transshipment.
For his part, Kumoru stressed the vision is to greatly expand participation of the islands in a fishery in which most islands have been bystanders for decades.
PNA Chief Executive Officer said developments in islands such as the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the Marshall Islands — all of which are increasing their domestic “footprint” in the fishery — show the future of the fishery for the islands.