The Oceanic Fisheries Management Project funds better management of tuna fisheries

The main goal of Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP2) is that the fisheries of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) are managed well so that fishing will remain sustainable. To achieve this, there needs to be systematic, permanent changes in fishing and related activity.

OFMP2 is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and carried out by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) for the benefit of the 14 Pacific Island states that are members of FFA.

FFA supports sustainable fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific

FFA supports the 14 small island developing states (SIDS) of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Together, they work to align national, sub-regional and regional policies to make it easier to care for the tuna fisheries consistently. Their work includes implementing and enforcing rules to permit fishing within limits that allow them to conserve fish numbers for future generations. They also seek to maintain the oceanic environments that support tuna and other sources of food.

OFMP fisheries management adviser David Power talks about why it’s so important to manage fisheries in the Pacific region. Sustainable management is possible with:

  • effective data collection and monitoring, so you know what is being caught and how much
  • effective regional management
  • effective surveillance, to identify illegal fishing vessels and apprehend them.

He gives examples of some of the great achievements that come about when nations work together (13 mins).

You can read in detail about FFA’s varied responsibilities in section 8 of the OFMP2 baseline report, Baseline study and performance indicators for the Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project, published in 2017. The report describes the status of the fisheries and the environments they live in, and the measures in place to manage and conserve oceanic fish in the WCPO.

Conversations from OFMP2 forum give island leaders’ perspectives

Western and Central Pacific Ocean leaders in the tuna industry took part in an OFMP2 forum in 2017. In these short videos from the forum, they cover the many issues the SIDS face in managing their tuna fisheries and the ocean environment.

Vanuatu’s Kalo Pakoa says that tuna fishing helps the people of his country maintain secure local sources of food (food security). Tuna fishing also contributes to livelihoods in other ways (1.23 mins).

Solomon Islands’ Ferral Lasi talks about his country meeting European Union regulations and increasing food security, capacity, and access to trade and exports (1.37 mins).

Tuvalu’s Nikolasi Apinelu talks about the need to match the amount of fishing allowed to the rate at which tuna can replace themselves and overfishing is prevented. He covers both properly reported levels of fishing, and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing (1.39 mins).

FFA’s Hugh Walton talks about the importance of tuna to the SIDS. He says that not only is tuna the most important resource of the small-island states, it is also culturally important in many states. He talks about the need of the SIDS to be able to sustain a regional presence so they can manage tuna effectively (2.17 mins).

Eugene Pangelinan of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) talks about the economic importance of tuna fishing for his country. He says that for FSM to have a viable fishing industry, it needs to implement a chain of custody and other arrangements so that tuna can be traced from catch to table. He also mentions the importance of regional cooperation (1.42 mins).

Moses Amos, the Director of SPC’s Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division, talks about the importance of OFMP2 allowing SPC to study the effects of climate change on fish. What researchers learn helps the SIDS to assess the health of tuna stocks (populations), and to use that knowledge in conjunction with catch data to manage fisheries (1.47 mins).

Samoa’s Magele Etuati Ropeti asks whether Samoa is creating a sustainable environment for using tuna resources, and whether the country is being paid enough for its tuna. He says Samoans need to think about these questions in order to improve how they manage their tuna stocks (1.27 mins).

David Vousden is Professor of Ocean Governance at the Rhodes University, South Africa. He praises OFMP2. He describes the project as “as good a flagship as you can get” on managing and governing a large marine ecosystem where there are many different rules and regulations in place (1.11 mins).

WWF’s Bubba Cook talks about overexploitation of tuna species, particularly Pacific bluefin tuna and bigeye tuna, which, he says, “are, essentially, on life support” (1.59 mins).

John Maefiti of the Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association talks about the importance of also supporting the domestic tuna industry, and of protecting regional tuna resources from overcapacity — too many vessels in the region taking too much fish (1.09 mins).

John Hampton from the Pacific Community (SPC) talks about the organisation’s role in OFMP2. He says that SPC supports the SIDS to manage tuna fisheries in three ways:

  • by providing understanding of how climate change is affecting tuna and other important species, including bycatch species
  • by developing technology that helps SIDS collect, manage and analyse data
  • by providing countries with scientific advice and analysis (1.59 mins).