Pacific thinking about collective action over long line fishing
A New Zealand fisheries advisor, who works a lot with Pacific Island countries, says there is an emerging inteest in developing a collective approach to solve the raft of issues in the long line fishery.
A New Zealand fisheries advisor says there appears to be a willingness in the Pacific to develop a more collective approach to critical issues in the region's long-line fishery.
Tony Craig took part in a series of workshops in New Zealand last week, during which fisheries ministers and officials from the Pacific were given an idea of how the New Zealand system of fisheries management works.
He told Don Wiseman the meeting was beneficial.
TONY CRAIG: The positive thing is peoples realisation of the value structure of controlled access regimes. Particularly in this instance the example of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement group of countries that got together and developed a vessel day scheme for a purse seine fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Fishery and people starting to now think about how that particular scheme could be expanded into the long line fishery across the Pacific.
DON WISEMAN: They are not talking about doing it a vessel day scheme or are they?
TC: No there's two things Vessel Day schemes are basically just a license fee for a days access I think there is definitely a view that their is much greater potential in the long-line fishery to have what is known as a catch-based regime where people have a specific catch limit entitlement to fish particular species.
DW: So this would be for Big Eye and Yellow Fin?
TC: Primarily so yes because they are the top value species that you need to make your economics work for those types of operations. Obviously long line fishing you don't catch anywhere near what purse seine fishing does.
DW: There are significant concerns though aren't there about the sustainability levels for yellow fin and.
TC: Yes I think it is generally considered that they are edging towards what is known as soft limits of their bio-mass that supports sustainable harvesting. They are what is known as a by-catch of the purse seine fishery. So when you have got a large amount of fish being taken by a particular method you always have a chance of catching these fish as by catch so that has an impact on how much is taken. But also their is quite a big targeted long line fishery which targets these stocks specifically so part of this process is to get a better handle on actually how much is being taken within these EEZs. How you then control that and allocate access rights to those and then more importantly is understanding what's happening in the high seas in and around those areas how much efforts being put in to taking those fish before they even reach those EEZs.
DW: So if this is the beginning of a process where do they go from here?
TC: Oh it is a tough process first of all its an acceptance that A that you need to find some way of restricting overall catch, B what is the method that you want to use to do that, C how you administer that which is not an easy thing to set in place. Which will require catch reporting and all of those things that we do in New Zealand as a matter of fact because it has been the PMS has been so long in existence. And also just the understanding of what you might need to do to have information on those vessels fishing on the high seas and how that might be factored into your management decisions for what rights would be allocated within your own economic zone.
DW: And there is a process in place to go to that stage?
TC: I think there is a willingness amongst the nations and the attendees that its time to really start thinking about what might be a collective management strategy that could help implement it without individuals being exposed to the costs of trying to develop something on their own. So it is much better to do something in a collective sense it is cheaper more efficient and you can set the rules that are common across all boundaries that people can then understand and adhere to much easier.
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