Feb 26, 2017 Last Updated 12:56 AM, Feb 15, 2017

GROWING global market demand for MSC-certified tuna and fishing industry interest is expected to see “wild catch” tuna tonnage double from the waters of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement in 2017. The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) operates a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified free school caught skipjack and yellowfin tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific fishing zones of its member nations.

In 2016, tuna fishing fleets complying with strict chain of custody rules that met MSC certification requirements delivered over 55,000 metric tons of sustainably caught free school tuna to market, said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. “We expect the volume to double to about 100,000 metric tons in 2017 based upon existing orders,” he said. “With strong fishing industry buy-in for PNA’s MSC-certified fishery, we see the market for sustainably caught tuna continuing to grow.

This benefits everyone — the fisheries industry, retailers, and PNA members. Most importantly, catching tuna without using fish aggregating devices (FADs) means tuna are being fished sustainably.”

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Cooks leads the way

Quota system for albacore, bigeye

The Cook Islands has become the first Pacific Island nation to adopt a quota management system (QMS) for its longline fishery to control catches of albacore and bigeye tuna. The Marine Resources (Large Pelagic Longline Fishery and Quota Management System) Regulations 2016 approved by Cabinet and the Executive Council last week, mark a significant step forward in allowing the Cook Islands to commit to a catch limit agreed to among Pacific Island countries through the Tokelau Arrangement for the Management of the South Pacific Longline Fishery and harvest strategy regulations being developed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).  

A fishery based on catch limits under a QMS is a management system that is globally regarded as best practice for commercial fisheries, and is supported by international environmental groups, including WWF. “We have received strong support regionally for taking the lead on transitioning from an effort-based system to a QMS. The focus is to restructure and control the longline fishery to meet our commitment to work with other States to ensure effective conservation and management of albacore and bigeye stocks,” says MMR Secretary Ben Ponia. “We are hoping this system will be adopted throughout the Pacific region. The Cook Islands can now set a precedent as one of the significant longline albacore fisheries in the region, and one of the few with a bigeye fishery,” says Ponia.

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OVER 60 per cent of the enterprises gained investment, new partners or new customers from connections made during the event participating in an event that aims to connect seafood industries with investors. Founded by Monica Jain, the Fish 2.0 is a global business competition that connects seafood businesses with investors, giving entrepreneurs an opportunity to win cash prizes, gain international visibility, find strategic partners and attract new investments.

“I’ve been working in the seafood sector and also in finance for 30 years and I kept meeting investors who said they didn’t know much about ventures in the seafood industry , which is why they weren’t making investments,” said Jain. “Seafood ventures on the other hand said investors aren’t interested in us. So what I learned was that it wasn’t that investors weren’t interested, but that presenters didn’t know how to present themselves properly,” she said.

It was then that Jain realized this business development gap in the market and gave birth to ish 2.0 that connect successful seafood businesses to investors, does education around how to present business pitch to the investors effectively, and how to create business Connecting seafood businesses with investors By Priya Chand strategies that would help businesses attract investors.

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Korea, Kiribati pay for services

PURSE seining revenue has accounted for the majority of fisheries revenue collected by the Cook Islands since 2014. According to Cooks Islands Fisheries Ministry submission to the country’s Purse Seining Special Select Committee, the increase in revenue has been in part directly associated with the vessel day price paid by the US Fisheries Treaty for the Cook Islands pool.

In addition, the Cook Islands has entered into bilateral fishing days with the US industry since 2014, and in 2015 there were large revenues associated with bilateral fishing days sold to the KoreanKiribati fleet. While the Cook Islands does not have the capacity for large-scale economic opportunities, a small tuna processing facility for 1500 tonnes in Rarotonga may be feasible. Penrhyn Harbour may also be utilised as a base for offloading, storing and transhipment of catch.

Local stevedores and labourers may be employed for maintenance of the purse seine net and other work. The ministry believes significant licensing revenues can be derived from the fishery provided government has the institutional capacity for scientific reporting of catches, monitoring and compliance of the fishing vessels, and sound fisheries policies. According to a study of fisheries revenues the access value of foreign fleet licenses in the region increased from $US92 million in 2007 to $US349 million in 2014.

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Support for purse seiners

Agency monitors bigeye stocks

THE Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) is highly supportive of the Cook Islands endeavours to increase its participation in the tropical purse seine fishery, according to Deputy Director-General Wez Norris. “We generally set a fairly high standard when we consider development proposals in terms of assessing those proposals against international legal obligations, sustainability qualifications, the capacity and institutional set up of the management agency and the nature of benefits that are likely to flow to the country,” he said.

“Forgoing a purse seine fishery would not contribute significantly to the conservation of bigeye tuna, and in fact Cook Islands best prospects to influence the development of measures to create a sustainable bigeye stock is probably to do so as a participant to the fishery.” Norris highlighted the FFA’s position when consulted by the Purse Seine Special Select Committee via Skype. The committee’s report of 30 August was tabled in the Cook Islands Parliament last month.

The FFA submission said the Cooks stood to benefit greatly from its purse seine fishery, primarily though enhanced government revenues.

The FFA is an intergovernmental agency with around 100 staff whose role is to strengthen national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries.

“FFA was formed in 1979 and that’s quite significant because it’s when the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was being finalised and that UN Convention is what establishes the concept of the economic zone and so the Pacific Island Forum leaders at the time recognised that with the concept of the EEZ came huge opportunities but also huge responsibilities and so they wanted to form a specialized fisheries agency.”

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