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PNA: Spanish MEP Misrepresenting Tuna Data European Union, September 5, 13

A Spanish member of the European Parliament has been accused by the PNA nations for deliberately misrepresenting data surrounding the status of the Pacific’s tuna stocks. They say that her assertion of Pacific Islands failing to reduce tuna fishing by 30 percent was a “total non-truth.”

Documents show that the PNA fishery and trade officials had a particular issue with the way in which Carmen Fraga Estévez had explained in her notes a plan for a ‘Pacific strategy’ for an EU influence on the Pacific Islands region.

The original 30 percent reduction target measure for the PNA countries was implemented by the WCPFC and was targeted to decreasing bigeye mortality. PNA officials explained that bigeye only accounted for around five percent of the Western and Central Pacific’s tuna catch.

PNA and WCPFC Commission documents outlined that the 30 percent ruling “was never a controlling measure on the region’s skipjack tuna fishery. In fact the measure does not cover skipjack tuna, contrary to what Ms Estévez had claimed.”

Despite this, Estévez based her assumption on that the PNA Vessel Day Scheme was supposed to help meet this reduction objective for all tuna fishing in the Pacific.

In her explanatory notes, Estevez wrote that the PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) “suffers from a lack of transparency and poor results in terms of meeting objectives. According to WCPFC statistics, 35,738 fishing days were to have been allocated in 2008… For 2011, 54,685 fishing days were allocated rather than the target of 35,136 days.”

Officials from PNA said that these assertions were totally incorrect, and limitations had only been placed on specific international waters. The Pacific raised its reaction to the misinterpretation at economic partnership agreement (EPA) discussions in Brussels, but it is thought to have fallen on death ears.

During the most recent EPA negotiations in Brussels, European Commission officials attacked the effectiveness of the PNA VDS as a conservational tool, and made references to adopting Estévez’s Pacific fishery strategy’s motion.

It is thought that the EU will now force the Pacific region to accept its position on VDS, adopt EU views on conservation and management arrangements and open up access to its fishing waters for the EU fleet.

Dr. Roman Grynberg, a regional trade expert, working in Botswana said: “Historically the EU has been a very minor fishing player in the region where Asian and US fleets have long been far more important. The real problem is if the EU decided to use margin of preference for tuna as a weapon to get the access it obviously now wants, some of the countries i.e. Solomon Islands and Fiji would be at serious risk.”