One of the questions we need to ask re the PMIZ in Madang is whether it actually fulfils the objectives of the PNA (Partners to the Nauru Agreement) for Pacific tuna and marine life in general. The PNA has been a singularly important conservation and mediation instrument for the countries who really jointly own the last free range tune in the South Pacific (indeed the world). But the NFA has often borrowed PNA credibility to justify actions and investments that seem contrary to PNA objectives. This is like campaigning for a Free West Papua and then inviting the President of Indonesia to 'buy' the country's vote about Papua's MSG inclusion.
As hard as the PNA will fight against illegal and unregistered fishing, against FADs attracting juvenile fish to commercial vessels, PNG has worked to undermine these objectives by allowing FADs for so-called PNG fisheries like RD Tuna. The Vessel Day Scheme, another great step forward by the PNA, has been completely voided by fishing vessels who simply turn off their GPS's and continue fishing without being recorded. Elsewhere the purse seiners get away with shrinking the size of their netting so they end up vacuuming up all kinds of bycatch. PNG talks about fighting this, but it has done very little. And the PMIZ will certainly exacerbate all this collateral damage to tuna by pretending PNG can monitor the boats for 10 foreign canneries!
PNA to implement FAD initiative
Pohnpei Palikir, 12 June 2015: Another global first yesterday for the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) when they passed an initiative to trial a charge of US$1,000 on each Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) set in PNA waters.
In what was dubbed the "free school initiative," Ministers at the annual PNA ministerial meeting in Federated States of Micronesia's capital Palikir, decided that a US$1,000 fee paid on top of the Vessel Day Scheme fee would be good incentive "not to set FADs" on free schools of fish.
PNA Chief Executive Officer Doctor Transform Aqorau said once again the Ministers and officials of the PNA member nations have shown great wisdom and resolve to come up with not only a global first but a first in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in fisheries management and sustainability.
"From January 2016 next year PNA member nations across the board will try out the new initiative to levy a fee of $1000 on each ship that sets FADs in a fishing day," Dr Aqorau said.
The decision in Pohnpei follows a PNA Ministerial endorsement to look into the possibility of such an initiative on FADs when they met in Tuvalu last year; something the host nation and Tokelau were particularly keen on.
"This is because they are two of the smallest and most vulnerable members of the PNA and fishing in their waters is very dependant on the use of FADs," he said.
Currently FADs are managed in the region at a WCPFC level with a four month closure of FAD fishing which is aimed at primarily reducing juvenile Bigeye, juvenile Yellowfin and other bycatches that are taken during FAD use.
Dr Aqorau said for Tokelau and Tuvalu and some other PNA members this is a crippling burden on them in terms of reduced revenue because it makes fishing in their waters much less attractive to the boats on which they depend for their revenue.
"At the same time these countries like other PNA members earn relatively little from Bigeye fishing so it leaves them bearing a large burden for Bigeye from which they will get relatively little benefit," he said.
"These two countries like other PNA members remain committed to Bigeye conservation but looking for a way to reduce FAD use that is less a burden on them."
Dr Aqorau said the "free school incentive" would provide a positive incentive for vessels to fish on free schools while leaving them free to manage their operations in a way that would be most profitable for them.
"At the same time it will still be aimed at reducing FAD use at a lower cost to the industry and therefore with less impact on PNA member countries especially those where fishing is more dependant on FADs," he said.
"Thus the incentive payment will generate a moderate amount of revenue for the governments which will partially compensate for the continuing burden for applying these measures."
He said the ministerial decision means fishing vessels will pay US$1,000 per day for any fishing day in which sets are made on FADs.
"Small vessels pay less and larger ones will pay more based on the Vessel day Scheme."
The PNA member nations will first start the trial in 2016 to see the best way to implement it and then return to report their findings to the PNA ministerial meeting.
This week’s annual policy meeting “will provide the venue for PNA ministers to continue to strengthen control and management of the PNA fishery, which accounts for 70-80 percent of the western and central Pacific tuna catch, and 30-40 percent of the global raw material for canning,” said Dr. Aqorau.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying a major portion of the world’s skipjack tuna (a popular tuna for canned products). They are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New
Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
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.