23 Apr 2010

Group of Pacific nations agree to close high seas access to purse seine fishers

7:26 pm on 23 April 2010

Officials from the eight member nations of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement have declared plans to close off four and a half million square kilometres of ocean area to fishing to save rapidly depleting tuna stocks.

The decision, made at a PNA ministerial meeting in the Marshall Islands' capital Majuro, extends a tuna fishing ban to high seas areas stretching from Palau and Papua New Guinea in the West to Kiribati in the East, Marshall Islands in the North to Tuvalu in the South.

The ban on purse seine fishing in these high seas areas will take effect on January the first of next year.

Officials agree it won't be easy to get acceptance of the closure but the impact on bigeye tuna being overfished will be significant.

They says the closure will help in the fight against illegal fishing, something many countries in the region are struggling to deal with.

The next step is for the new PNA secretariat in Majuro to coordinate national fisheries priorities with the organisation's overall agenda to generate greater economic returns from the three 3 billion US dollar annual tuna catch in the Pacific.

The PNA members are PNG, Palau, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Solomon Islands.