Prized Pacific tuna
In the Pacific, tuna travel through the high seas and through the EEZs of many
nations. Globally, Pacific tuna are worth about US$2 billion each year.
For Pacific Island nations it’s one of their greatest sources of income. Keeping these
fisheries healthy is therefore of huge economic importance for the region.
Pacific tuna are one of the few remaining healthy tuna stocks in the world. But this could
change as the vessels that were fishing in the Indian and Atlantic oceans are now leaving
areas where tuna stocks are seriously depleted.
The increasing scale and intensity of fishing in the Pacific could have a major impact.
Two key target species – bigeye and yellowfin – are already subject to unsustainable
levels of fishing.
Pacific nations are working with distant water fishing nations, and have negotiated
charter arrangements, access rights and foreign investment in domestic development.
These nations are also working together through the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA),
created in 1979, to help its members manage and protect their interests in tuna fisheries
that fall within their 200 mile EEZ.
The FFA has developed agreed minimum terms and conditions for foreign vessels wanting
to access Pacific Islands’ EEZs. It has also developed a regional register of foreign fishing
vessels, vessel monitoring systems and a regional observer programme.
But work still needs to be done to ensure tuna fisheries remain viable, for future
development opportunities, jobs and economic self-sufficiency for Pacific Island nations.