The 2015 Pacific Tuna Forum / by Francisco Blaha

As I write, a traditional Fijian welcoming ceremony (that of course includes drinking some kava) is opening this years Regional Tuna Industry and Trade Conference on its 5th edition.

Is the 5th time I been invited to be a speaker, and I take it as big honour. I'm crap at the networking thing and the PR side of my work... I just like the job I do and I like the people I work with, and I take this opportunity as a chance to communicate across the region some of the aspects of what are the advances happening in my area of work. At the same time gives me the chance to learn what other people I like and work with, are up to. 

While I'm interested what everyone has to say, the ones that I'm more looking forwards this year are:

Achieving Optimal Economic Benefits Through Sustainable Tuna Management and Development, by Transform Aqorau, Executive Director of PNA. Transform is a very smart man and articulate man, that is not afraid to trow the right punches when necessary. His presentation are always entertaining.

Tuna Stock Status, Management Regime and Policies in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean by Shelton Harley, the Principal Fisheries Scientist (Stock Assessment and Modelling), Oceanic Fisheries Programme, of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Shelton is a very clever man at the top of its game, and equally important, a good communicator of the science and status of the stocks. His presentations are always good learning opportunities.

Developments in Fishing Quotas and Cuts by Transform Aqorau again. There has been a lot of talk of reshaping the tuna landscape by the introduction of quotas as alternative/addition to the Vessels Day Scheme. While conceptually interesting, and having worked and lived on the inside of the NZ Quota Management System, I see al lot constraints on the operational side of it (i.e. controlling fish receivers, aggregation limits, migratory status, etc) so i'm very interested on what he has to say.

Crew Conditions on Fishing Vessels in the Pacific Islands Region by Patricia J Kailola, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Dialogue Ltd. I don't know Patricia, but I'm very interested in the topic and I'm partially working on the topic.

Constraints to Domestic Industry and Development Through Mitigating Strategies by Adrian Wickham (but delivered by Charles Hufflet) from thePacific Islands Tuna Industry Association. I known both gentlemen for years and they are great people and real fighters for Pacific Island based fishing.

The Viability of Longlining in the Southern Albacore Fishery by Russell Dunham, Director for Fresh and Frozen ULT Tuna of Tri Marine International Pte Ltd. Russell is great guy I've know for years. He know the longline tuna business left, right and centre. Always great presentations.

Foreign Fishing Tuna Operations and Investment in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean by Hugh Walton, Fisheries Development Advisor, DevFish Project, Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency. "Uncle Hugh" as my kids refer to him, is a good mate and he has supported my vision, my work (and my English!!!)  for the last 4 years with DevFish II. He is a former fisherman and a guerrilla gardener (that alone makes me like him) and has done every job in the Pacific fisheries (twice!), so is always good to hear what he has to say.

Updates on E-Reporting and E-Monitoring Projects in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean by Malo Hosken, Regional Electronic Reporting Coordinator, Oceanic Fisheries Programme of SPC. I have meet Malo recently, and I like what he does and why he does it, he is relaxed and very professional, as well as family man... I respect that a lot. His work on e-monitoring (cameras on board) and e-reporting (real time electronically updated logsheets form the vessels) has been pivotal to a lot of work we for see in the near future (furthermore is one of the few tools I know work for avoid shark finning).  

The Changing Proportion of Legally-Sourced Tuna in International Trade and FAO’s Best Practice Guidelines on Tuna Catch Documentation System (CDS) by Gilles Hosch,  Technical Coordinator – Tuna Traceability & CDS at FAO. Gilles is a very long time friend and a very clever man that knows his stuff deeper than anyone I know. He is actually not gonna deliver it, I will :-)... he is at the present in FSM at the WCPFC CDS Working Group (where I was also invited), and unfortunately we cannot be in two places at once, he is passing my views there and I'm passing his views here.

Finally I'm looking forwards to deliver my one: Impact of EU ‘yellow card system’ on Pacific Island Countries here is the brief as written in the programme: (I'll publish the presentation after delivery tomorrow

The Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have significantly experienced the effects of the EU’s role as the world IUU fisheries evaluator. There are more “yellow cards” in the PICs than in any other region in the world in relation to their population and development status. Fiji and Vanuatu were the first ones, then Papua New Guinea, followed by the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, while FSM and RMI are in dialogue process.
While the EU IUU regulation legally concerns itself only with fish being imported into the EU, it is interesting to note that Vanuatu, Tuvalu, FSM or RMI do not trade with the EU as they lack of Sanitary approval required never the less have been impacted by the EU measures. Other small countries in the world got yellow cards and some of them reds, like Belize, Togo, Sri Lanka, etc. Notably, major countries with weak compliance records got yellow cards as well, like Philippines and Korea, but these were removed a short term later. The latest country under this process is Thailand and the jury still out on what is going to happen, PNG on its side seems to still running towards the elusive “green card” goal post, albeit substantial work done.
Nevertheless, this presentation will not dwell in the perceived politics of the situation, but more constructively on the advances that this “yellow cards” have catalyzed in the Pacific regions in terms of MCS and related control systems, and particularly the in regards the strengthening of the EU Catch Certification Scheme with the support of the DEVFISH II/FFA Programme. Including the incorporation of elements of the PSMA as to be working towards a pacific wide Catch Certification Scheme as a tool to offset the administrative and economic burden that compliance with the EU scheme has enacted in the PICs. 

Looking forwards to all of this!