Kiribati signs key fishing agreement

TARAWA, FRIDAY 27 JUNE 2008: The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was pleased to witness Kiribati’s signing of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement 3rd Implementing Arrangement in Tarawa today. This historic subregional arrangement 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 Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development, the Honorable Taberannang Timeon, announced the signing to a function held during a subregional workshop of FFA and its Northern members held this week in Tarawa. FFA is coordinating subregional workshops so that all its 17 members have information and informal discussions to prepare for their participation in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and at its next meeting in December in Korea.

The workshops are an important part of FFA’s ongoing efforts to increase national capacity and strengthen regional solidarity so that member countries can manage their fisheries for the benefit of people today and for future generations. 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 Parties to the Nauru Agreement 3rd Implementing Arrangement came into effect on 15 June 2008 and will develop and agree on a schedule to put these measures into force.

Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development, the Honorable Taberannang Timeon, speaking about Kiribati’s signing of this fishing agreement, commented: “In the Pacific, we cannot shy away from the responsibilities we have for the tuna resources important to our nations, our region and indeed the world. We must work together to control price and supply of tuna to the advantage of our people.” “We cannot do that if we act separately. We must act together as one voice to enable us to share ideas and information to better protect the joint resource that is the Pacific’s strength – our fish.”

FFA Director of Fisheries Management Moses Amos said: “We commend the Minister and Government of Kiribati for signing this key regional agreement and I am pleased to be here with FFA representatives and member representatives to celebrate this important moment in Kiribati’s regional and national efforts to manage and develop tuna resources.”