Tuna can create "true independence" PNA tells Pacific Islands Development Forum Leaders Summit
HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, TUESDAY 12 JULY: At the Pacific Island Development Forum Leaders Summit today, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) told the delegates sustainable management of fish was key to self-determination for Pacific peoples.
PNA CEO Dr Transform Aqorau challenged leaders to obtain what he called “true independence” by self determination, Indigenous management of ocean resources, South-South cooperation and ending donor dependency.
“We must manage our ocean resources to promote self determination and not perpetuate dependency on others. Let us manage our oceans and harness our natural resources to create a sense of self reliance. The PNA has transformed fisheries rights – from a market controlled by the others to a market where rights are firmly held in favour of our members,” said Dr Aqorau.
He gave an example of the benefits from the tiniest player in the PNA member countries – Tokelau, which was only getting $900,000 USD a year from foreign fishing vessels accessing their waters. Now, as part of the PNA, Tokelau has around $10 million a year in revenue from fisheries. Kiribati for a long time received around $26 million a year and now earns around $200 million USD per year in revenue.
“Rights create scarcity and value for our oceanic resources,” said Dr Aqorau. “The PNA Vessel Day Scheme has put power in the hands of island states, but now the Pacific must move away from donor dependency and subserviency to others who end up reaping the benefits from our resources.”
Dr Aqorau pointed to the US Treaty as an example of what happens when these issues interfere in the Pacific: “The region quibbled over a US grant of just $21 million, a very small amount when you consider the billion dollars worth of tuna resources. This is an arrangement we have with the largest superpower in the world, but we need to move away from these kind of arrangements that restrict our benefits and options.”
He said there were two risks for the leaders to consider – in the region, Pacific countries need to manage natural resources and oceans sustainably, and then there was threats from outside the region of powerful states who wanted to undermine the progress PNA had made so far.
“These threats also come from some of the Pacific countries’ major donors, and in the fisheries context there is often a lack of coherence on what they give as aid and then the restrictions they make on how we use our resources, “ Dr Aqorau commented.
South-South cooperation (or cooperation between island states) could help counter these factors, said Dr Aqorau: “True independence means all island countries help each other, rather than looking for help from outside, let us use the economic benefits we have and support each other.”
ABOUT THE PNA: The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are eight Pacific Island countries that control the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery supplying 50 percent of the world’s skipjack tuna (a popular tuna for canned products). They are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
The PNA established the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS). PNA members agree on a limited number of fishing days for the year, based on scientific advice about the status of the tuna stocks. Fishing days are then allocated by country and sold to the highest bidder. In this way, Pacific Islanders reap more economic benefits from their sustainable management of tuna and control its supply.
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IMPACT OF PNA MEASURES ON THE GLOBAL TUNA INDUSTRY
SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT!
Dr. Transform Aqorau
Director PNA Office
Review Of The New Pacific Diplomacy