Wed. Dec 11th, 2019

Palau takes over PNA chairmanship

Officials of the Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA) pose for a photo as they begin discussions of major Pacific fisheries initiative here for a two-week meeting. (Photo by Bernadette H. Carreon)

Palau took the chairmanship of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) grouping following the start of the fisheries’ officials meeting here yesterday to decide on new conservation and management measures on tuna.

Outgoing PNA Chair Charleston Deiye from Nauru handed over the chairmanship to Palau’s Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET) Minister Umiich Sengebau.

Sengebau said in this year’s meeting, PNA is preparing the implementation of the 2020 ban on high seas bunkering, initiatives for increasing local entrepreneurship in domestic development and fishing aggregating device (FAD)

He said PNA would also continue to be a global leader for many innovative and world-first class measures and management regimes.

“Our continued efforts, born from unity among our member states and realized in a combined Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) exceeding over 15 million square kilometers have established the PNA as global leaders in fisheries sustainability. We can be proud to be the only Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) with all of its tuna stocks on the green,” he said in his opening remarks yesterday.

The PNA grouping- Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Republic of Marshal Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Solomon Islands,  Tuvalu  and Tokelau- control the majority of tuna in the western and central Pacific.

But despite strong fisheries management initiatives, PNA still faces challenges with most fishing operations dominated by distant water fishing nations such as Japan, Taiwan, China, Korea and the United States.

“I know your work is challenging. You are tasked with managing a resource worth billions. Outside pressures are enormous, and one would be remiss to mention the intricate balancing act required to reconcile our respective nations’ priorities with the common interests of the PNA,” Sengebau said.

He said it is important that solidarity among PNA members remain to ensure increasing financial benefits to the island members.

Sengebau said the meeting this week expected to endorse recommendations for action by member ministers who will meet again here in May.

He said he is also looking forward to see PNA prioritize the implementation of  vessel day scheme to apply to longline fishing vessels,

The PNA currently has a vessel day scheme for purse seine fishing vessels. The VDS is a permission to fish for a certain number of days, which are sold and traded to fishing vessel operators.

For Palau the VDS has yielded annual revenue of over $8 million. Revenues are even expected to grow once the long line VDS is implemented.

Other issues to be discussed are fishery observer safety, developments of information management systems and fish aggregating devices (FADs) management. (Bernadette H. Carreon)