PNA delegates travel to Iceland, Alaska on fact-finding mission
Representatives of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement visited Iceland and Alaska to study their maritime economies and fisheries management practices, according to a PNA news release.
The Nauru Agreement is a fisheries management scheme jointly operated by the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
The trips took place in October 2017, and involved 16 Pacific island nation leaders from government and industry touring fishing vessels and processing facilities and meeting with Icelandic and Alaskan fisheries-related institutions and enterprises. The Iceland visit was funded and enabled by the Arctic Circle Assembly, the Emerson Collective, Conservation International, Nia Tero, the Government of Iceland, and the World Bank through the Common Oceans ABNJ Project on Ocean Partnerships.
“The lessons learned from this exchange have inspired new ways of implementing existing regional policies that have high-level political buy-in and acceptance, and will have catalytic effects on improving fisheries management through increased inter-regional cooperation between Pacific and Iceland partners,” Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director Glen Joseph said, according to an FAO press release.
Seeing an up-close view of Iceland’s catch-based quota system, and the transparency with which the system is run, made an impression on the visitors, according to Sue Taei, Pacific Islands executive director of the nonprofit Conservation International. The system reduces illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and encourages compliance and cooperation, she said.
"Iceland has clearly shown the importance of transparency in underpinning fisheries management and this has built well Icelandic stakeholders' confidence in all measures taken,” Taei said. “It also underpins the remarkable sharing and openness we saw amongst these stakeholders who have leveraged greater value together through collaboration from their fish than they could have on their own.”
Joseph said the PNA’s vessel-day scheme presents similar opportunities to maximize local sustainable development.
"It's not about cutting out the distant-water fishing nations,” Joseph said. “It's about developing the capacity of our islands to fish our own waters and process the catch.”
Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources Development Tetabo Nakara of Kiribati, agreed, saying the PNA sought capture greater value from fisheries by pursuing strong models of cooperation among governments and fishing companies and supporting vertical integration in the private sector. In an address to the Arctic Circle Assembly, he said the countries in the PNA were interested in following Iceland's example of asserting full control of their fisheries value chain, “from capture to processing to marketing.”
Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Director General James Movick said the visitors also were impressed by Iceland’s commitment to maintaining the quality and maximizing the yield of its catch. Movick noted that even while Iceland’s cod catches have gone from 460,000 metric tons (MT) in the 1980s to 250,000 (MT) in 2017, the value of its catch has tripled.
“The fundamental principles, values and processes of innovation, especially the commitment to use 100 percent of each fish, suitably contextualized, can certainly motivate and inform our own processing and fishing development,” Movick said.
At roughly the same time the Pacific representatives were in Iceland, another PNA-affiliated group was on a similar fisheries-focused trip in Alaska.
“Both trips were inspirational as the visitors saw how once impoverished communities turned their economics around through careful, deliberate, transparent changes in policy and practice,” the PNA said in a press release. “These changes allowed both Alaskan and Icelandic communities boost their economies by taking control and keeping fish that are in their exclusive economic zones and by creating transparent, science-based, sustainable harvest practices using innovative technology.”