The finalists for the prestigious industry award were unveiled last week at the sixth edition of Seafood Expo Asia in Hong Kong. Dawn Martin, President of SeaWeb, was joined by Suzanne Gendron, Director of the Ocean Park Foundation in Hong Kong and a 2016 Seafood Champion Awards Judge, to make the announcement to a crowd of seafood industry professionals and media. “The Parties to the Nauru Agreement organization was among 16 finalists in four categories (Leadership, Innovation, Vision, and Advocacy) who were identified and described briefly in a presentation to the audience,” said Marida Hines, SeaWeb’s Seafood Champion Awards Manager.
Dr. Transform Aqorau, PNA CEO, said it was gratifying to see PNA make it to the finals in this industry award. “It’s heartening to get recognition from others who are looking in to see what we are doing,” Dr. Aqorau said. “As a seafood industry award, it is an objective overview (of the fishery). It is recognition that our members and the PNA office can be proud of.”
The inclusion of PNA as a finalist in the Seafood Championship Awards competition acknowledges the significant conservation and management work PNA has brought to the tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific, Dr. Aqorau said.
Among important initiatives by PNA to improve management of the fishery:
• Free school skipjack: PNA’s achievement of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for free school caught skipjack, now in its second year, is increasing the volume of tuna caught in this sustainable manner. “We’ve seen increased skipjack product this year, which means less fishing on fish aggregation devices (FADs), which in turn is good for the ecosystem,” he said.
• Harvest control: PNA is moving toward adoption of “target reference points” for managing the annual harvest of tuna in the western and central Pacific.
• VDS for longliners: Following the successful implementation of the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) for purse seiners over the past six years, a majority of PNA members are now rolling out a VDS for the longline industry in the region.
• Management framework: PNA is working to tighten up its management framework by addressing gaps such as the lack of provision of data by longliners fishing on the high seas.
Dr. Aqorau said these and other initiatives of PNA are enforcing best practice standards in the fishery, increasing benefits to the eight member nations in the PNA, and improving the long-term sustainability of the tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna (a popular tuna for canned products). They are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
PNA has been a champion for marine conservation and management, taking unilateral action to conserve overfished bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including closures of high seas pockets, seasonal bans on use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), satellite tracking of boats, in port transshipment, 100 percent observer coverage of purse seiners, closed areas for conservation, mesh size regulations, tuna catch retention requirements, hard limits on fishing effort, prohibitions against targeting whale sharks, shark action plans, and other conservation measures to protect the marine ecosystem.