The Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation In The Management Of Fisheries Of Common Interest
, or The Nauru Agreement
is an Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...
subregional agreement between the Federated States of Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia or FSM is an independent, sovereign island nation, made up of four states from west to east: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. It comprises approximately 607 islands with c...
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...
, the Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...
, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...
, Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...
The eight signatories collectively control 25-30% of the world's tuna supply and approximately 60% of the western and central Pacific tuna supply.
Historically, the Nauru Agreement and other joint fishery management Arrangements made by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (usually referred to as PNA
) have been concerned mainly with the management of tuna purse-seine fishing in the tropical western Pacific.
From its initial enactment in 1982, the implementation of the Nauru Agreement was coordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). However a separate PNA Office was created in 2010, in Majuro, Marshall Islands.
In October 2010, the eight member states Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) extended their prohibition on tuna purse-seine fishing in approximately 4.5 million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...
high seas by purse-seine vessels licenced to fish in their combined Exclusive Economic Zones. The extension was unveiled at a meeting of the Technical and Compliance Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is a treaty-based organisation. It was established to conserve and manage tuna and other highly migratory fish stocks across the western and central areas of the Pacific Ocean and commenced operations in late 2005...
Other recent actions by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement include a prohibition on setting purse-seine nets around whale sharks, a ban on fishing near fish aggregation devices during the months of July, August and September, and a requirement for retention of all catch on board (no discards).
The range of fishery management measures implemented by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement includes:
- The Federated States of Micronesia Arrangement: which defines a multilateral licencing arrangement providing annual access to all PNA EEZs by purse-seine vessels which contribute significantly to the enhancement of a PNA country's (the Home Party) economic involvement in the fishery.
- The Palau Arrangement: which formerly set an agreed, binding, limit on the number of purse-seine vessels allowed to operate in PNA waters. The Palau Arrangement, through the Palau Arrangement Purse-seine Vessel Days Management Scheme, now limits the amount of effort (in terms of number of fishing days) that can be exercised by purse-seine vessels in PNA waters during any one calendar year.
- The Implementing Arrangements of the Nauru Agreement: There have been three of these, defining the measures that have been agreed by all Parties that will be implemented in the management of the activities of purse-seine vessels in their own EEZs, either through Regulations or licencing conditions. These include the measures highlighted above, such as the requirement not to licence any purse-seine vessel which also fishes in certain defined High Seas areas.
These PNA-specific measures are also supplemented by the Harmonized Minimum Terms and Conditions for Access to FFA member EEZs by Foreign Fishing Vessels
, agreed by all FFA member countries including the Parties to the Nauru Agreement. These terms and conditions apply to all foreign fishing vessels, not just purse-seiners, and include a requirement for an Automatic Location Communicator to be switched on at all times and reporting to the regional Vessel Monitoring System, and a requirement for annual regional registration.
In 2010, PNA applied for certification from the Marine Stewardship Council
The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme. Fisheries that are assessed and meet the standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC mission is to 'reward sustainable fishing practices’...
(MSC) which requires an independent assessment of fisheries by a third party before granting seafood sold from that territory permission to carry the blue MSC eco-label. MSC labeled seafood must originate from and be able to be traced back to a sustainable fishery. In the case of the PNA certification process, the third party was Moody Marine Inc. who has stated the PNA territory meets the guidelines required by MSC. Following the determination, several objections were filed and an independent adjudicator was assigned to the case.
Critics of the MSC certification of PNA say that while the PNA fisheries have made efforts to ensure that their Western and Central Pacific skipjack fisheries are sustainable, there are still issues that prevent the region from deserving the MSC eco-label. Moody Marine determined that 70% of the skipjack catch falls under management of the PNA nations, however critics argue that because tuna is a highly migratory fish this percentage can be much lower at any given time and a majority percentage of the stock is found in poorly managed neighboring fisheries making it impossible for PNA to manage the entire stock. One of the MSC certification principles is that a fishery can obtain certification only if the entire fish stock(s) meet the MSC standard; in this case it is the Western and Central Pacific skipjack.
PNA has responded to this criticism in some depth, pointing out that it is not where the stock ranges, but where the fishing fleets range that is the important factor in fisheries management. And because the vast majority of the total catch of skipjack tuna
The skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis, is a medium-sized perciform fish in the tuna family, Scombridae. It is otherwise known as the aku, arctic bonito, mushmouth, oceanic bonito, striped tuna, or victor fish...
) is consistently taken in areas subject to PNA management rules, the management measures exercised by PNA nations over the entire heartland of the stock are the key to conserving the status of the stock.
Fishing on the Western and Central Pacific Ocean skipjack tuna stock is currently agreed to be well within internationally-accepted precautionary limits. Even so, the MSC label is only being sought for skipjack that are caught from free schools, without the use of Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) or other floating objects (including marine mammal
Marine mammals, which include seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses, form a diverse group of 128 species that rely on the ocean for their existence. They do not represent a distinct biological grouping, but rather are unified by their reliance on the marine environment for feeding. The level of...
s and whale shark
The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow-moving filter feeding shark, the largest extant fish species. The largest confirmed individual had a length of and a weight of more than , but unconfirmed claims report considerably larger whale sharks...
s). PNA small island developing states
Small Island Developing States are low-lying coastal countries that tend to share similar sustainable development challenges, including small but growing populations, limited resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, excessive dependence on...
point out that this will provide an additional economic incentive for fleets to move to more sustainable fishing, on top of the conservation measures that have been introduced by PNA countries despite the criticisms emerging from some of the more developed WCPFC member nations.
WCPFC is a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation that was set up in 2004 with the expectation of managing the previously-unregulated high seas fisheries of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The member states of PNA joined WCPFC on the understanding that its primary role would be to develop the management of the high seas in compatibility with the increasingly stringent standards exercised within the Exclusive Economic Zones of the region, and that it would provide a forum for agreement between fishing states and coastal states on the overall limits that should be adhered to for the conservation of regional highly-migratory stocks of fish. PNA points out that for one particular fishery however - the skipjack purse-seine fishery - the fact that WCPFC does not yet have adequate powers to manage high seas fishing does not matter, since the vast majority of the skipjack catch in this - the biggest single tuna fishery in the world - is taken from waters subject to PNA management measures. WCPFC has a more critical role to play in the management of distant-water longlining and other fisheries for highly migratory species where fishing effort on the high seas is significant.
The PNA was named the Organization of the Year
for 2010 by the regional news magazine Islands Business