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Shape Up or Ship Out, PNA Tells Industry

Shape Up or Ship Out, PNA Tells Industry

Koror, Palau, 7 September 2011: Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Director Dr Transform Aqorau, in a speech to the Pacific Tuna Forum 2011, told tuna industry participants to work with the PNA or risk losing access to its rich fishing grounds.

“My simple message to industry and distant water fishing nations is: ‘Shape up or Ship out!!’” said Dr Aqorau. “Either you work with the PNA, by changing your approach to provide local economic benefits in PNA countries and support our conservation and management of tuna, or ship out. Because only those who work with the PNA countries will remain in this fishery.”

The PNA are global leaders in conservation and management of skipjack tuna, the most common kind of canned tuna. “Science released last month on the status of tuna stocks revealed that the skipjack catch in the Western and Central Pacific declined by 6% last year,” said Dr Aqorau. “PNA sees these declines as an early sign of the effectiveness of PNA limits on fishing - including the PNA Vessel Day Scheme, where fishing days are limited in number and traded for profit, the high seas closures and the restrictions on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADS, which often result in high catches of young tuna).”

However, the foreign fishing nations (such as US, Japan, Korea, EU and others) had not taken action to restrict their fishing, particularly for bigeye tuna which is overfished in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, pointed out Dr Aqorau: “PNA will be asking the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission this year to formally request all its members to take voluntary measures to cut overfishing of bigeye tuna and report back on their progress. PNA will also be asking the Commission to call on processors and other major buyers to take business measures to mitigate bycatch and report back on the measures they have taken.”

Dr Aqorau also highlighted the need for industry to support economic development in the Pacific Islands. He said: “While a substantial proportion of tuna catch is being taken outside the region for processing, PNA domestic tuna industries continue to grow, and interest in ventures integrated with domestic processing plants in the region are being pursued. It is in the PNA’s interest to have fish caught in their waters, processed in plants in their region or at operations in which they have equity. Taking the fish outside the PNA region to their competitors only leads to depressed fish prices, and reduces the competitiveness and profitably of their investments, whether these be in plants, joint ventures, or charters.”

Restricted access and local processing would increase tuna prices, but Dr Aqorau explained this was in the PNA’s interest: “This year, skipjack prices have been high: between US$1,700-US$1,950 a metric tonne. Keeping prices high ensures PNA industries are competitive, and the returns to the PNA from access fees are also high relative to the fish prices. PNA can and should control where the fish caught in their waters ends up, by regulating their supply of tuna. That means landing and processing fish caught in PNA waters in the region or in plants in which the PNA has equity.”

ENDS

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