11 Apr 2016

PNA commits to stay with Vessel Day Scheme

1:58 pm on 11 April 2016
US Raffaello alongside mother ship Tai Fu No1.

US Raffaello alongside mother ship Tai Fu No1. Photo: Supplied

A Pacific fisheries bloc has unanimously decided to maintain a management system that it says has increased revenue to the islands by more than 500 percent in the past six years.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement's Vessel Day Scheme allocates its member countries a number of days per vessel that they can allocate to distant water nations which want to purse seine fish for tuna in their waters.

It is seen as a means of increasing returns and ensuring greater sustainabiliity.

Non-island nations are advocating different approaches, including New Zealand, which this week is promoting its catch based management system to Pacific fisheries ministers.

But the PNA members agreed last week to stay with their VDS system after a review by a New Zealand based company called Toroa Strategy Ltd.

It concluded the VDS is a fully functioning fisheries management regime without peer for its class of fishery.

It said there was no clear benefit from changing to a catch scheme now or in the near future.

The New Zealand meetings are part of the Pacific Island's Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries but the strategy company says Pacific leaders have acted precipitately.

It said they were putting the cart before the horse by opting immediately for a catch-based system.

A purse seiner tranships its catch in Majuro's lagoon.

A purse seiner tranships its catch in Majuro's lagoon. Photo: Giff Johnson

PNA controls waters where 50 percent of the global supply of skipjack tuna is caught.

Its members are Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

Tokelau is not a full member, but has joined PNA in enforcing the VDS in its fishery.

After detailing the pros and cons of both effort and quota limit systems, the independent review said there was no evidence the present sustainability performance of the VDS was inferior to the quota management system, given the nature and current state of the tuna fishery.

It said the current total catch level in PNA waters was sustainable and the management system in place works.

The company said the purse seine VDS was a very successful fisheries management regime by any real world standard.