The capital of the Marshall Islands, Majuro, will host the first in-person annual meeting of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) since 2019 when the powerful fisheries organisation convenes on Monday.
To coincide with the gathering, PNA will officially open its four-storey headquarters building in Majuro on February 13.
The PNA controls waters where half of the world's skipjack tuna is caught. It held a "soft" opening for the headquarters building soon contractor Pacific International completed construction in mid-2021 so PNA staff could begin making use of the facility.
The official opening involving leaders from the nine islands involved in PNA had to wait for covid border quarantine controls to be lifted.
Since it was first established in Majuro in 2010, the PNA Office and the member countries have been responsible for a nearly 10-fold increase in revenue generated for the islands through a management scheme known as the "vessel day scheme" that regulates purse seine fishing in the region.
In 2010, about $US60 million went to these islands each year from the commercial tuna industry. Fast-forward to last year and the revenue is close to $US500 million.
The parties to the PNA agreement are Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. Tokelau is a participating member.
Marshall Islands fisheries chief Glen Joseph said recently that PNA members are not only benefiting financially from PNA management of the fishery. "PNA is sustainably managing the fishery, conserving tuna for future generations," said Joseph. "The four tuna (types) in the Pacific are all healthy and being fished sustainably."
PNA's vessel day scheme regulates the total number of fishing days that can be sold in a year, with each of the nine participating islands having a share of these to sell to the fishing industry or trade among each other. The limit on fishing days controls fishing by the purse seine industry at sustainable levels.
Nadi dialogue focuses on human rights, gender and social inclusion in Pacific
A regional dialogue began on Monday in Nadi led by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), under the European Union (EU) and the Government of Sweden funded Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme.
The dialogue brings together representatives from different areas of the tuna fisheries sector - national government, the private sector/industry and civil society - to discuss the linkages between human rights issues such as working conditions at sea and in processing plants of the estimated 27,000 Pacific Islanders employed in the tuna fisheries sector, gender equality, social inclusion and productivity.
Dr Erja Askola of the European Union delegation said: "The European Union and the Pacific have a common interest and responsibility to make sure that tuna fisheries are managed in a sustainable way.
"There is an important human dimension to this, notably in terms of labour rights, working conditions and gender equality. Not simply as a matter of ensuring full respect for basic human rights, but also as a prerequisite for economic development and social equity to the benefit of Pacific communities."
The Pacific's tuna sector is of significant importance to livelihoods and for global food security being the source of more than half of the world's tuna stock.
The tuna industry is highly gender-segregated with the harvest sector being dominated by men while women are predominantly employed as line workers in the processing sector.
Discussions will also address social inclusion of local communities engaged in the tuna fisheries sector - whether it be at-sea, or onshore - and that social issues such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse which could increase public costs, are minimised.