11 Sep 2015

NZ has a lot to learn about Pacific Tuna: PNA

3:05 pm on 11 September 2015
Fishing vessels, both modern and traditional, in the Madang lagoon, Papua New Guinea; part of the planned Pacific Marine Industrial Zone.

Fishing vessels, both modern and traditional, in the Madang lagoon, Papua New Guinea; part of the planned Pacific Marine Industrial Zone. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The chief executive of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Transform Aqorau, says a quota-based fisheries system won't work in the Pacific.

Dr Aqorau was responding to a New Zealand-led push at the Pacific Islands Forum to help shift the region away from daily catches via the Vessel Day Scheme.

The scheme has brought rising incomes to PNA countries but New Zealand says advances in technology and bigger fishing boats are resulting in larger catches which could render the scheme unsustainable.

Dr Aqorau says the only areas in which unsustainable catches are occurring are those outside the control of its Vessel Day Scheme.

"A lot of those statements are, they are not made with a good understanding of what is happening on the ground in the fisheries. And I think their hearts are in the right place but they need to learn a little bit more about our fisheries and not just simply apply what they think can work in New Zealand to the Pacific Islands."

Meanwhile, New Zealand is to provide US$30 million over the next three years to help the region change the way it manages declining fish stocks. Australia also announced it would invest US$13 million into maritime surveillance within the region to help police the fisheries.

Furthermore, fisheries ministers from all Forum nations have been invited to New Zealand to examine the management system in place.

However Transform Aqorau says New Zealand should be learning from the Pacific about tuna fisheries management and not the other way round.

He has invited New Zealand fisheries officials to visit the PNA in Majuro to learn more about tuna fisheries management.

The head of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Transform Aqorau, 2014.

The head of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Transform Aqorau, 2014. Photo: RNZI / Monica Miller

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