Purse seining to be banned in South Pacific


Neil Ray, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Bangkok

Published on
April 25, 2010

The member countries of the Parties to the Narau Agreement (PNA) marked the opening of new offices in Majuro, Marshall Islands, by announcing a number of bold initiatives aimed at sustaining fish stocks in their territorial waters. The most significant is a fishing ban, starting in January 2011.

The PNA member countries are made up of the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu. Collectively, they represent 25 percent of the world's tuna, with an estimated annual value of USD 2 billion (EUR 1.3 billion).

"The waters of the countries of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement are ground zero for the last remaining viable fishery grounds in the world," said H.E. Iroij Jurelang Zedkaia, president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, as he helped officially open the new facility. "Over the centuries, tuna fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean have been so over-exploited that self-sustaining fisheries are not even contemplated let alone attempted. This is a lesson for the Pacific region in general and the PNA countries in particular."

The announcement of the closure to purse seine fishing beginning 1 January, 2011, was made at the end of the week's meeting. The ban covers the high seas of all PNA member countries and amounts to 4.5 million square kilometers of ocean. The area will be monitored using the PNA compliance observer system. 

"We are pleased to implement the decisions of the leaders by announcing 1 January 2011 as the start date of world's largest high seas closure to strengthen conservation and management of tuna in the Pacific Islands," said PNA Director Dr. Transform Aqorau.


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