The Pacific is losing one of its most prolific tuna negotiators who has been instrumental in negotiating greater returns for tropical purse seine fishery. Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) Chief Executive Officer Dr Transform Aqorau told a PNA meeting in Honiara last month that those series of meeting would be his last and he would not be seeking a renewal of his contract when it expires in January 2015. He will soon join former Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Managing Director Sylvester Pokajam in a growing number of tuna advocates who have helped shape the region’s fisheries but are either being replaced or leaving the industry.
Together in the PNA, and taking on the ten distant water fishing nations, as a group or individually, Pokajam and Aqorau were like good cop/bad cop duo. Pokajam, the strong-arm strategist whilst Dr Aqorau would be the calm and collected negotiator. Yet both would actually be fighting for the same thing – ensuring the sustainable management of tuna so PNA nations could rake in the maximum benefits. Dr Aqorau’s deputy Maurice Brownjohn has also confirmed from the PNA Secretariat in the Marshall Islands that Dr Aqorau would not be renewing his contract in the new year.
The lawyer turned fisheries negotiator has reportedly told his staff that he wanted to focus on projects back in his homeland in Solomon Islands. “There will be a formal advertising and recruit ment process during the year and this is yet to be finalised,” Brownjohn added. A major achievement of the PNA under Dr Aqorau’s stewardship has been the increased earnings PNA member nations had earned from their fisheries. In 2010, skipjack tuna caught in this region of the Pacific was valued at US$1.9 billion, with only $60 million of that going to the eight member PNA nations.
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