Landmark PNA fishing arrangement signed by Marshall Islands at Forum Leaders meeting

NIUE, 22 AUGUST 2008: The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s Director General was pleased to witness the signing of the Parties to the Nauru (PNA) Agreement 3rd Implementing Arrangement by Marshall Islands in Niue today. This historic subregional arrangement, administered by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), provides for new measures to manage fishing in their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and in high seas pockets (areas of high seas bounded by the waters of member countries).

The Hon Christopher Loeak, Minister in Assistance to the President of Marshall Islands Litokwa Tomeing, signed the Parties to the Nauru (PNA) Agreement 3rd Implementing Arrangement after the Forum Leaders meeting in Niue.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau,  Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu) in May 2008 agreed, in an act of regional cooperation, to take measures to conserve their valuable tuna stocks including:
•    fishing vessels will no longer be allowed to fish in high seas pockets adjacent to the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) as a condition of their licenses
•    the use of Fishing Aggregating Devices (FADs) on purse seine fishing vessels, a device used to attract tuna which often results in the capture of juvenile fish, will be banned in the PNA Members’ EEZs for 3 months of each year (July-September)
•    retention of all bigeye, skipjack & yellowfin tuna catch on board purse seine fishing vessels (a measure to stop the catch and dumping of fish and other non-target species, such as sharks, at sea).
•    100% coverage of purse seine fishing vessels with observers. (Observers monitor fishing vessel practices to report back to the national governments and FFA in order to monitor and report on implementation of fishing measures).

The 3rd Implementing Arrangement follows a tradition of innovation by PNA leaders in developing new initiatives to manage tuna resources in the region – the 1st Implementing Arrangement established a regional fishing vessel register for the signatories to the agreement which was later taken on board by all FFA members and is now the FFA Vessel Monitoring System. The 2nd Implementing Arrangement established minimum terms and conditions for fishing in signatory waters which is now the Minimum Terms and Conditions applicable to all FFA members.

FFA administers several fishing treaties and arrangements and provides support for members in negotiations and meetings regarding binding agreements such as the PNA Agreement as part of its work to strengthens national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future.

FFA Director General Su’a N.F. Tanielu said:
“We commend the Government of Marshall Islands for signing this key regional agreement and I am pleased to be here with Forum Leaders and FFA member representatives to celebrate this important moment in Marshall Islands’ regional and national efforts to manage, control and develop tuna resources.”

“The PNA 3rd Implementing Arrangement establishes a landmark for regional fisheries management that should ensure tuna can be fished in these waters now and in the future. We encourage other Pacific leaders to adopt similar measures so they can strengthen their control over this important economic resource.”