29 Nov 2010

PNA nations see urgency in reducing tuna fishing in Pacific

8:40 am on 29 November 2010

An important fishing group in the Pacific has agreed to take action to restrict access to fishing grounds and so increase economic returns to its members.

Fisheries Ministers from countries belonging to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement have called for a 30 percent reduction in tuna fishing in 2011 as concern for over-fishing increases.

The eight PNA members, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, agreed to cut fishing days from an estimated 40,000 this year to 28,469 in 2011.

The PNA controls Pacific waters where about 25 percent of the world¹s tuna is caught.

Under a system known as the vessel day scheme, the PNA nations sell fishing days instead of licensing a set number of vessels to fish in the region.

But while the vessel day scheme has been in place for three years, the number of days have not been strictly enforced, reducing its effectiveness.

In the final communique, PNA officials expressed general dissatisfaction with a treaty that gives United States flagged vessels access to the entire region.

They also criticized Taiwan saying it undermined small island countries' efforts to develop their domestic fishing industries, by delaying or denying these nations access to newly built fishing vessels.