Micronesia commits to full transparency in tuna fishing

Published on
November 2, 2018

The Federated States of Micronesia announced a shift to 100 percent transparency in its tuna fishery at the 2018 Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in late October.

Transparency in the country’s fishing industry will be achieved by 2023 through the use of electronic monitoring and human observer coverage in all industrial fishing vessels operating in Micronesia’s territorial waters, Micronesia President Peter Christian said in a press release.

“Our bold commitment to transparency and sustainability in our fisheries can help recover tuna stocks and reduce bycatch of other species like sharks and sea turtles, so that marine ecosystems, and the Pacific Island communities dependent on them, can thrive,” Christian said.

Micronesia’s electronic monitoring systems will include video cameras, remote sensors, GPS trackers, and hard drives installed on fishing boats to automatically record a range of data, including retained catch and discards. Christian said he hopes the collection of hard scientific data will make it easier to establish fishery rules to ensure the sustainability of the region’s tuna fish stocks.

In his speech at the conference, Christian challenged its fellow members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement to follow suit, launching the Technology for Tuna Transparency (T-3) Challenge. Collectively, the eight countries in the Nauru Agreement control more than 50 percent of the world’s supply of skipjack tuna.

“If the government of FSM and our PNA partners are successful in implementing EM through the T-3 Challenge, we’ll help to secure the sustainability of half of the global tuna supply,” Christian said. “This should also help countries like FSM leverage our licensing arrangements for onshore investments that will bring benefits to the Pacific Island people.”

Micronesia’s move to full transparency was backed by The Nature Conservancy, which donated USD 250,000 (EUR 218,000) to initiate the country’s efforts to raise USD 2.5 million (EUR 2.2 million) to support fishing transparency in the Pacific Island region. 

“By pushing markets to contribute to sustainable resource harvesting in FSM, we are sending a clear signal to both global businesses and consumers about the importance of EM and the dangers of overfishing,” Mark Zimring, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Indo-Pacific Tuna Program, said in the release. “The goal of this challenge is to help achieve sustainable management in the world’s largest tuna fishery. EM provides policymakers, fishery managers, and the private sector with the data they need to manage ocean resources sustainably and bring transparency to seafood supply chains so that everyone from suppliers to buyers can make smart, informed decisions and have confidence that their sustainability commitments are being fulfilled on the water.”

Photo courtesy of Our Ocean Conference

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