Majuro, Marshall Islands 16 August 2016: Improving systems that underpin rights-based tuna management in the western and central Pacific, while identifying ways to add value to benefit both industry and the islands are twin goals of the new Chief Executive of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).
Ludwig Kumoru, formerly Deputy Managing Director of the National Fisheries Authority of Papua New Guinea, officially took the reins as PNA CEO early this month and is now based in Majuro.
Mr. Kumoru said he intends initially to focus on PNA Office governance, further implementing decisions of PNA leaders, and addressing value-added initiatives in the fishery.
When the PNA Office started in 2010, it was directed by PNA leaders to take multiple initiatives to establish rights-based control of tuna fishing by purse seiners in PNA exclusive economic zones. “They’ve done a good job while starting so many things at once,” said Mr. Kumoru. “There are a few gaps we’re addressing to improve governance of the office.”
He said he is not looking initially at new initiatives. “My focus will be on implementing decisions already taken, and then we will look at next steps,” he said.
The primary mission of the PNA Office is to support PNA’s mission of enforcing rights-based management of the tuna fishery, he said. “The Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) is just one mechanism for rights-based management,” he said. PNA’s fisheries information management system is another essential mechanism for successful management of the fishery, he said.
Key to sustaining the success so far achieved by PNA is to use economic incentives for managing the fishery, he said. “We’re already making money from the VDS,” he said. “Now the question is how to add value to the VDS.”
Mr. Kumoru believes that measures with economic incentives will help PNA members and industry, and in particular can address the issue of over-supply of tuna that has led to suppressed prices for skipjack tuna on the world market over the past 18 months. “If we don’t over supply the market, industry enjoys a higher market price,” he said.
Initiatives such as tracking and charging for use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) and controlling fishing on the high seas will help control catch volumes and improve world market returns for fishing companies.
In addition to PNA’s tuna label Pacifical, now in joint venture with marketing and retail firms worldwide for sustainably caught tuna, Mr. Kumoru sees implementing social accountability as another avenue to add value to the fishery. “People want to eat tuna from a fishery that is well-managed,” he said. Just as PNA’s Marine Stewardship Council-certified skipjack fishery confirms to buyers that tuna is being caught sustainably, establishing and tracking minimum standards of employment for fishermen and employees working in tuna processing plants will add value to PNA’s products, he said.
Getting all purse seiners to register through the PNA Office and comply with new rules for FAD tracking and provision of timely fisheries data are works in progress. “Eventually, they will comply,” he said. “We will identify the fishing companies that want to comply and work with them. If they want to fish, they have to follow the rules.”
As management of the purse seine fishery has improved over the past few years, it is now allowing PNA to shift attention to longline fishing vessels. “The biggest challenge for PNA is longliners,” said Mr. Kumoru. “There is no real management for longliners at the moment. We need to stop high seas transshipment and bring this into port where it can be monitored.”
For the eight PNA nations plus Tokelau, rights-based management means exercising management control of fishing in their 200-mile exclusive economic zones. This will benefit the fishing industry as well as the islands, said Mr. Kumoru. “We have to continue to build trust between PNA and industry so we get a win-win situation,” he said. “What we build has to help industry. If they make a higher profit, they will be willing to pay to fish.”
Mr. Kumoru said his job through the PNA Office is to facilitate improvements to and expansion of the tuna fishery management system.