Regional organisations work together to manage the tuna fisheries

The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) strengthens national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future.

FFA advises members about developments in international trade policy and economic cooperation, and how to advance their individual and collective fisheries interests in negotiations on trade policy and economic partnerships.

Since 1979, FFA has facilitated regional cooperation. When the Pacific countries cooperate, they all gain from the sustainable use of tuna, which is worth over $3 billion a year and is important for many people’s livelihoods.

The agency’s vision statement encapsulates sustaining and building domestic economies of the Pacific countries:

Our people will enjoy the highest levels of social and economic benefits through the sustainable use of our offshore fisheries resources.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission was established in mid-2004 under the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. It operates in exclusive economic zones (EEZs) as well as the high seas.

WCPFC is the body that makes decisions about how to manage tuna fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. It considers the socio-economic opportunities and impacts of its decisions. 

The FFA has outlined three tasks for countries and territories to consider so that they can maximise the economic and social benefits of their fisheries. It also helps its members to carry out these tasks at the national and regional levels:

  • Manage the fishery to ensure use is sustainable and will provide tuna now and in the future.
  • Develop the fishery to harvest, process and market tuna to create local jobs and incomes, and maintain a thriving industry.
  • Monitor the fishery and use controls to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and to make sure that the benefits of fishing go to fishers who follow the rules.

Extra arrangements for PNA countries

The Bikenibeu Declaration aims to secure for PNA members greater economic benefits and control of their tuna resources. It also aims to strengthen cooperation between the member states. It was signed in Tarawa, Kiribati, in 2009. It set up the PNA Office to serve its members through initiatives to maximise profitability and benefits for Pacific Islanders.

Understanding fish stocks is needed to manage equitable access to fish as food and to provide local livelihoods. Photo: Francisco Blaha.