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Fisheries Agreement: Affirming the Foundation of Fiji’s Fisheries Management

Healthy tuna resources are heavily dependent on the effectiveness of our management and governance systems. The rate at which tuna is being fished in the Pacific Islands, quite a bit of it going unreported, makes the newly signed agreement between the Government of Fiji and the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) on how to strengthen its management capacity over its tuna resource a very important one.

The WWF South Pacific views this agreement as a great window of opportunity for capacity building in the offshore fisheries sector.

“This new agreement will build fisheries capacity through training, encourage investor confidence as well as opportunities for export markets and through improved management practices build up the opportunity to move fisheries toward Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification,” says WWF South Pacific’s Fisheries Policy Officer, Seremaia Tuqiri.

He added; “Fiji will benefit from access to the FFA’s regional and international experience, helping the country to deal with immediate and future issues in fisheries and to meet international fisheries obligations.”

“We would like to think that tuna resources are infinite, given the vast expanse of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean in which we reside, however, the rate at which tuna fishing is being carried out indicates that it is not all well out there in the ocean.”

“Climate change impact aside, the issues affecting the health of tuna is largely caused by human intervention particularly through illegal, unidentified, unreported (IUU) fishing, overfishing, and weak internal control mechanisms that regulate the fishing industry.”

“Such regulatory and management measures include the issuance of fishing licenses, capacity to carry out surveillance to monitor fishing activity in the EEZ, a plan to manage by-catch, the ability to negotiate strong access agreements, and the development of a cadre of observers to be deployed on longline fishing vessels.”

“Furthermore the development of a robust management plan and legislation that supports an Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) will lay a firm foundation on which Fiji’s tuna fisheries will be competently managed.”

The WWF South Pacific is encouraged by the Government of Fiji’s push towards improving its fisheries governance capacity as well as its desire to sustainably manage and develop its tuna resources.