MAJURO, MARSHALL ISLANDS, 23 APRIL 2010: As this week’s meeting of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) drew to a close today, the PNA agreed for the world’s largest closure of the high seas to purse seine fishing.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) includes Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu – collectively these countries are the owners of 25% of the world’s tuna supply.

Today the PNA announced that from 1 January 2011 high seas surrounding these countries will be closed to purse seine fishing vessels licenced to fish in their waters.

This closed high seas area:

* Stretches from Palau and Papua New Guinea in the West to Kiribati in the East, Marshall Islands in the North to Tuvalu in the South

* Covers all high seas areas from 10 degrees North latitude to 20 degrees South latitude and 170 degrees East to 150 degrees West in longitude

* Covers an area of 4,555,000 sq km

The PNA also has 100% observer coverage of purse seine vessels to monitor compliance of the high seas area closure.

The PNA have a tradition of innovative conservation and management measures such as the Vessel Day Scheme (a system whereby a set number of fishing days will be sold and traded to the highest bidding fishing companies), closure of high seas areas to fishing and control of Fish Aggregating Devices (or ‘FADs’, which are human-made devices to attract schools of fish that often result in high juvenile fish catches).

This week officials also began planning for extension of the ban on Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) – currently banned for 3 months a year – to specifically target countries overfishing bigeye tuna in the high seas.

Director of the PNA, Dr Transform Aqorau said today:

“We are pleased to implement the decisions of the leaders at the 1st Presidential Summit in February in Palau by announcing 1 January 2011 as the start date of world’s largest high seas closure to strengthen conservation and management of tuna in the Pacific Islands.”