PNA rejects quota system, sticks with vessel day scheme

Published on
April 12, 2016

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement, which control areas containing 50 percent of the global supply of skipjack tuna, have voted against moving to a catch quota system and instead will stick with a vessel day scheme, despite objections from the U.S. tuna fleet fishing in its waters.

PNA members Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia voted unanimously to maintain its vessel day management scheme, reported Radio NZ on 11 April.

The decision sets up a potential confrontation with the United States, which has pushed for a move to a quota system, which it argues is fairer to its companies fishing in PNA waters. Earlier this year, the United States withdrew from the South Pacific Tuna Treaty – an accord that essentially ratified the vessel day scheme – after complaints from U.S. tuna fishing companies including Tri Marine, Dongwan Industries and The South Pacific Tuna Corporation about high prices.

In a statement following the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty, Tri Marine called the vessel day scheme “broken.”

“We have always maintained that, in its current form, (the treaty) fails to retain the most value for the resource owners because the vessel day scheme places value on fishing days alone, rather than the tuna itself,” the company said.

However, in March, the U.S. restored the treaty for the remainder of 2016 following a renegotiation.

Earlier this month Toroa Strategy Ltd., commissioned by the PNA, concluded there was no clear benefit to switching management plans.

“After detailing the pros and cons of both effort and quota limit systems, the independent review said there was no evidence the present sustainability performance of the VDS was inferior to the quota management system, given the nature and current state of the tuna fishery,” Radio NZ reported.

Outgoing PNA CEO Transform Aquorau told Radio NZ on 29 March the organization would be correct to stick with the vessel day scheme, which he deemed more suitable for the multi-species, multinational nature of the PNA fishery.

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