Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has highly commended the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) group of nations for its tremendous leadership in ensuring the region’s tuna stocks are managed and sustainably harvested and for providing economic and social benefits to its people since the Organisation’s inception.

Speaking at the opening of the group’s 18th Annual Ministerial Meeting in Honiara, Sogavare welcomed Fisheries Ministers and delegates from the nine-member group of nations and congratulated them for the vision and leadership they performed in the tuna industry.

The Prime Minister encouraged the PNA members, which host one of the world’s largest tuna fisheries to remain vigilant and innovative in view of threats transpiring from Climate Change and other external events.

He noted that climate change affects fish habitats and patterns of movement, which will have social and economic consequences for the PNA region in the years ahead.

“Your roles as Fisheries Ministers and officials is crucial in ensuring we come up with adaptation strategies that take into account the economic consequences of climate change”.

“We need strategies and initiatives that are adaptable to the uncertainty of climate change on our fisheries. I would like to urge you all not to be complacent of our fine collective efforts towards our tuna fisheries,” Sogavare said.

Sogavare further urged the PNA to ensure its endeavors and initiatives in the sound management of the region’s tuna resources to always consider the interest and needs of the peoples of the PNA family.

As international discussions are increasingly focusing on Tuna Fisheries, Sogavare commended the success of the PNA for the outstanding achievement of the purse seine Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) for bringing in revenue to the Parties over the years.

Photo: Solomon Govt

Besides revenue from the scheme, it also sets limits to purse seine fishing efforts in fishing days and those limits have been very effectively applied by the PNA Members, which makes tuna stocks in the region one of the healthiest in the world.

Sogavare further commended the PNA for pioneering other management measures beside the VDS and hailed the fact that these measures have now been applied in other oceans. These include the requirement for 100 percent observer coverage for science and compliance purposes on purse seine vessels and the Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD) closure period, which reduces juvenile bigeye tuna catches from fishing on FADs.

“These achievements are indeed, testaments of the ability of the PNA to do more, given that today, the world has taken notice of how we manage our tuna fisheries to generate revenue and to conserve stocks. Equally, it is also time that the PNA show the world that we can catch, process and market our own fish and to become self-reliant in these areas as well,” he said.

The 18th Annual Ministerial Meeting commenced on Monday 12 June with a series of Senior Officials meetings prior to the Fisheries Ministers Meeting which will run for two days on the Theme “Sustainable Tuna Fisheries for our Economic Growth and Development”.

PNA countries are the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Tokelau with its Headquarter in Majuro, Marshall Islands.