The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) kicked off its discussion of a broad range of fisheries issues in Palau yesterday which will set the stage for implementation of new management initiatives, including fish aggregating devices (FAD) management and high seas bunkering ban.

“This is a big year for PNA, with many initiatives in the development stage,” said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru. “Our aim is for our PNA Officials to review and endorse several important plans that will then go to PNA Ministers for final endorsement. This will set the stage for implementation beginning in 2020.”

Although the technical meetings started yesterday, the annual PNA officials meeting will be held from 18-22 of March.

The Palau meeting will set the stage for the implementation of PNA FAD registration and tracking measure by January 1, 2020.

The FAD management is aimed at improving reporting of the current FAD tracking trial, integrate FAD log sheets with electronic reporting by fisheries observers, develop a PNA FAD buoy tracking and registration measure and address environmental issues associated with FADS, including FAD retrieval and liability for beaching of FADs.

Another fisheries management measure that the PNA officials are also finalizing is the call to bam high seas bunkering of fishing vessels by requiring refueling to occur in ports or in designated zones.

The ban is geared to take effect by January 1, 2020, as well.

The Pacific Islands Forum leaders in 2016 adopted a resolution calling “for action to end illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and associated activities, including high seas bunkering, human trafficking, and illicit trade.

The PNA officials will also continue to discuss how the nations will continue to add value to add further value to the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) which generate at least $500 million annually for participating countries such as Palau, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Tokelau.

“PNA has many developments in the pipeline to improve and expand management of the fishery,” Mr. Kumoru said. “We are also seeing more activity from individual parties to look at how they can increase revenue-generating opportunities and participation in the sector. The VDS system offers spin-off business development opportunities for the individual Parties and the PNA Office is helping to facilitate some of these initiatives.” (Bernadette H. Carreon)