1 Jun 2009

PNA fisheries grouping to set up own secretariat in the Marshall Islands

10:30 am on 1 June 2009

A group of small Pacific islands nations is banding together to force Asian countries to pay more for tuna caught in the region.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement, or PNA, countries are establishing their own secretariat in the Marshall Islands.

The PNA countries have also used their muscle to force a change from the past practice of licencing all vessels equally, to selling vessel days, based on 2004 catch levels.

This system is based on fishing effort and allows a differentiation between older and more modern vessels, which can catch a greater volume of fish.

The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director, Glen Joseph, says currently Pacific island countries receive less than five percent of the total catch value of around three billion US dollars.

He says the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu voted earlier this month to set up a secretariat in Majuro.

Mr Joseph says it is not a break from the Forum Fisheries Agency but an effort by the PNA to fully establish itself.