Uncertain future for Pacific Tuna Fisheries
The management of the Pacific's Tuna fishery is facing an uncertain future with regional leaders calling for a review of the region's current regulatory systems.
The management of the Pacific's Tuna fishery is facing an uncertain future with regional leaders recently calling for a review of the regions current regulatory systems.
A Pacific Tuna Forum held this week in Fiji brought together industry partners , fisheries managers and regulators from the region and the world all seeking to find a balance between economic viability and sustainability.
Koroi Hawkins filed this report.
TRANSFORM AQORAU: We said that we are going ahead to review the system even before the Forum leaders made that decision.
Transform Aqorau is the chief executive of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement an eight country regional organisation managing the world's largest tuna purse seine fishery. Dr Aqorau says the PNA is already carrying out its own research into catch limits but says they are approaching the concept with caution.
TRANSFORM AQORAU: There is a study being initiated and the study will look at the catch-based system as a means of managing. And the study will tell us whether it is time because the thing that I said is this, that there is no catch based system in any regional Tuna management organisation in the world that I know off that exists in a multi-fisheries, multi-species tuna fisheries.
But leaders at the recent Pacific Forum summit in Papua New Guinea ordered a review of the region's tuna management systems with a report to be presented in 2016. The Forum Fisheries Agency is one of the main organisations which will embark on the review of the regions fishery. The project coordinator of its Oceanic Fisheries Resource Management project Hugh Walton says one of the biggest challenges is not the system but the huge divide between the Pacific Island countries aspirations and what distant water fishing nations want from the region.
HUGH WALTON: It is a challenging environment because that is where we sit down with all the DWFNs [the deep water fishing nations] and we don't necessarily have common views in terms of achieving those goals, And they relate to the sustainability of resources, to maximising economic benefits, improving returns. So that gives us a pretty wide range of challenges if you like that we are looking at trying to address.
But the Chief Executive of the Pacific Tuna Industry Association, says these differences can be set aside if all stakeholders are willing to come to the table and reach a compromise. Tima Tepou says the conference in Fiji has seen some frank discussions about what the different parties want.
TIMA TEPOU: What we are trying to focus on a little bit more is addressing some of the issues that are being faced and being a bit more efficient and being a bit more conscious of what science is saying and hopefully in that manner we can work towards balancing, providing for the demand, continuing to supply and maintaining the economic benefits to people who are fishing. But also addressing conservation at the same time.
As to what the Pacific Tuna Fisheries management system will look like in the future the options are a hybrid Vessel Day Scheme with catch limits imposed or a total change to a New Zealand led system limiting fish catches based on scientifically determined quotas. But FFA technical adviser Francisco Blaha says no system is perfect and whatever model is eventually employed a significant amount of additional technical, financial and human resources will be required to make it work.
FRANCISCO BLAHA: To be perfectible you need to have data you need to have forward thinking and you need to be able to preview all the potential scenarios that could happen. The issue for example with Tuna is that it is the most traded commodity that you can even think. I work on issues around catch certification that is my specialty and I have counted eight movements through different jurisdictions for one consignment of fish. From the vessel to the EU it went through eight different flags. How do you incorporate something like that into a quota management system?
The 5th Pacific Tuna Forum which wrapped up in Fiji yesterday is one of several bi-annual conferences organised world wide by InfoFish and will feed into the Global Tuna Forum next year in Bangkok.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: