PNA leaders meet in Majuro

PNA press statement

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) held their 2nd Leaders Summit last week, sharing both their accomplishments and future goals with the leaders of their eight countries and Tokelau.  The leaders, having heard from the PNA officials, each responded by sharing their respective country’s priorities for PNA.

In 2010 PNA set goals that included maximizing economic gains from the tuna fisheries through the adoption of effective conservation and management measures and assertion of greater control of the fisheries for the Pacific Islands to ensure the sustained conservation and social and economic wellbeing of their peoples are met. Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) revenue generated through the PNA is the major source of revenue for many PNA nations.

As PNA officials presented their accomplishments, they showed evidence that they have made great strides in meeting their original objectives. They have turned a USD60 million industry into a USD500 million sector in just eight years by implementing their Purse Seine Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) where tuna purse seiners purchase the rights to fish with competitive bidding, the price at USD11,000 or more per day.

In addition PNA applied for and received Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for their free-school skipjack and yellowfin purse seine fisheries. As global markets are increasingly demanding fish products that are labeled “sustainably caught,” MSC certification means that PNA MSC certified and Pacifical co-branded catch is worth considerably more than tuna caught with fish aggregating devices (FADs).  PNA’s five-year MSC certification had been up for review for re-certification for another term. Good news arrived during the summit that PNA’s re-certification was approved despite opposition by IPLNF opposing MSC standards. In addition, leaders applauded the success of the Pacifical co-branded trade of MSC tuna and the United Nation’s recognition of World Tuna Day.

The Western Central Pacific Ocean remains the most sustainable ocean on the globe, supplying more tuna than the Eastern Pacific, Indian  and Atlantic Oceans combined. The PNA waters supply up to 70% of the skipjack catch in the Western Pacific Ocean. It is the only region where all of the fish are in the “green,” something no other region can boast.

The ministers and presidents each expressed their desire for continued cooperation with renewed focus on the VDS and region’s sustainability. They look to PNA to address FAD management and to manage and control the high seas. PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru shared that his office is thinking well beyond PNA’s original goals. As he discussed PNA’s vision he said “It is time to make some things happen.” He said that the PNA was once eight small island nations and now are eight large ocean nations. Now it is time to become eight smart ocean countries.

Among PNA’s goals:

·      PNA looks for fair reward as it plans to work to increase their share of the value of the tuna fishery through vertical integration. This means they will work hard to keep control of more of their fish, to include a greater percentage of ships that are PNA flagged. They will contract the catch, process and trade of their own tuna. Increased on-island processing, fish grading, bunkering, utilization of by-catch, net yards and investing and re-investing are all opportunities to see increased financial gain, jobs and commerce. The question was asked, “Why do we import our own tuna to eat?”

  •   PNA has instituted a long-line VDS that they will fine-tune this week in their meetings in Nauru.
  • The PNA office has contracted with Pacific International Inc. for a new office to be built in Majuro and ready for use within twelve months.
  • PNG will purchase iFIMS, the industry portal for application of non-fishing days and submission of eReporting forms. iFIMS gives Parties considerable power and leverage over their data.

The meetings were officially concluded with the signing of the Delap Commitment, the document that outlines the leaders’ priorities for PNA. The leaders were in agreement with PNA’s goals, adding priority to pursue legal recognition of the defined baselines established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to remain in perpetuity irrespective of the impacts of sea level rise. They also tasked ministers to reduce marine pollution, address high seas, bring tankers into zone, manage FADs and the fishery sector’s carbon footprint. They noted the need and intent for the leaders to meet more frequently, at least every three to five years. They look forward to PNA’s strategic plan draft for their future vision at the Forum Leaders Meeting in September in Nauru.

As they concluded the meeting, RMI President Hilda Heine, who presided the meeting, thanked PNA for making them “smart leaders” with respect to their fish.