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PNA Calls For Cuts In Bigeye Catches

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) says new rules to tuna fishing in the Western and Central Pacific must cut catches of bigeye tuna by longline fishing vessels especially in the high seas.
PNA, of which Solomon Islands is a member, manages the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery. Tuna purse seiners target skipjack tuna, which is commonly used in canned tuna products.
Longline fishing vessels are currently still overfishing bigeye tuna, a large tuna used for sashimi.
Even though WCPFC members have been required to cut bigeye fishing since 2008, only PNA has taken decisive action with a raft of conservation measures to protect juvenile bigeye tuna.

Scientists say that catches of bigeye tuna must now be cut by around 40-45% to return fishing to sustainable levels.
Next month, at the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Cairns, Australia, 32 countries and territories will decide a new conservation and management measure on tuna to apply to the world’s largest wild tuna stocks.
However, the US is arguing for no cuts to longline fishing, and instead disputing  purse seine fishing should apply even greater restrictions on the use of FADs. This is a move that PNA says is unfair.
“We understand that the US wants to protect the interests of its Hawaii-based longline fleet, but to say no to absolutely any cuts to longline fishing is irresponsible, and very unfair to PNA countries who have taken many measures to reduce the impact of purse seine fishing on bigeye tuna stocks,” said PNA CEO Dr. Transform Aqorau.
Currently the WCPFC has two draft conservation and management measures to discuss – one written by the PNA and Japan, which are cooperating to draft a measure that puts the onus on both longline and purse seine fleets to cut bigeye catches, and one by the US, which is advocating  longer FAD closures, a move which would disadvantage PNA countries by  putting all the pressure for cuts on purse seine fishing.
“The fact is when the PNA manages its tuna purse seine fishing, the whole region benefits from the healthy tuna stocks.
“But while foreign fishing nations enjoy the benefits of tuna conservation and management, some do not seem to be willing to do the work involved – they do not want to make cuts to their own fleets or to recognize the cost of conservation and compensate PNA accordingly,” said Dr. Aqorau.
“We’ve got to make sure that those nations that fish our tuna stocks also put in the hard work that goes into managing them.
“Foreign fishing nations must also cut their fishing and compensate the PNA for the cost involved in managing the fishery.”

This year’s WCPFC meeting is unique in that PNA, a global leader in tuna conservation and management, and Japan, typically influential amongst the Asian countries about fisheries issues, have cooperated well in advance to prepare a measure that compromises and meets the needs of both sides.

A final decision will be taken at the WCPFC meeting from 2-6 December 2013.