PNA members to begin negotiations at annual meeting
PNA member countries are meeting this week to divide funds and address differences.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement have begun their annual negotiations today in Solomon Islands, and splitting $93 million US dollars is first on the agenda.
The money comes from negotiations with the United States tuna industry, on the successful vessel day scheme - a way to limit catches and set a benchmark price so that small countries are not left behind.
The eight countries agreed last year to split 15 per cent of the funds evenly, and then the rest according to catch.
They have also agreed to take another 8000 days from the Total Allowable Effort from all PNA countries, as a conservation measure.
The Permanent Secretary of the Tuvalu Ministry of Natural Resources, Kakee Kaitu, who is chairing the meetings, told Alex Perrottet they will also clear up their differences on the definition of a "fishing day".
KAKEE KAITU: I think different members with different interpretations in their laws so it looks like the other countries that had interpreted the non-fishing days differently from the PNA they have agreed to adopt the same definition.
ALEX PERROTTET: But can you give us an idea of why and how the countries differ in their interpretation of it? Is it an unclear definition?
KK: Because the countries, they have their own respective laws, you know like Tuvalu, they have a different interpretation, but more lean than the interpretation that the PNA has agreed upon, so it depends on the nation on the definition of the non-fishing day.
AP: And you are also talking about how you can get the best money out of the fishing day but there's also these bilateral agreements with Asian fishing nations, negotiating deals. How do you balance those two interests?
KK: It depends because normally what the PNA has done is they normally set a benchmark on the price of the day and then it's up to the parties to negotiate with the companies and the fishing nations, so there is always a minimum benchmark being set. It depends - it's up to the individual member countries to negotiate higher than the benchmark. So the intention of the benchmark is for no countries to be worse off. No country is to set a price of the day under the benchmark.
AP: And then there's also this ongoing controversy with the use of the fish aggregation devices. Organisations like Greenpeace have been very vocal in criticising and condemning the by-catch from an FAD. IS the PNA going to address this at these meeting and move to bring in more restrictions for the use of these devices?
KK: The issue of FADs is always in the agenda because we have an obligation under the WCPFC (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission), for conservation. There was a closure of FADs within a year, in parties' EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones). Yes that is one of the agenda items that we are discussing. We had an agreement before - three month's closure, our additional month, but there are also new ideas on how to deal with the FADs that are coming up, which is still under discussion, and need to be improved as we go along.
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