World Tuna Day announced by UN / by Francisco Blaha

The United Nations General Assembly has voted today to make May 2nd World Tuna Day.

is more than just a fish... is life for the pacific islands. (Pic by my brother Hugh Walton)

is more than just a fish... is life for the pacific islands. (Pic by my brother Hugh Walton)

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement have been pushing to establish an internationally recognised event for the past five years.  The United Nations General Assembly voted without objection to ratify a resolution on World Tuna Day that had been endorsed by nearly 100 nations prior to today’s vote at UN headquarters in New York City. Ambassadors from PNA nations attended the vote.

Tuna is a primary source of revenue for Pacific Island governments and is a key part of food security in the region and World Tuna Day helps strengthen the voice of Pacific nations striving to ensure their succeses and challenges are part of the global tuna conversation.

As the resource owners of the regions multi-billion-dollar fishery, it is clearly important that Pacific knowledge, progress and experiences must lead the global tuna conversations. And tuna is keeping the Pacific working, with jobs in the fisheries sector rising from 10,500 in 2010 to an estimated 19,000 in the present.  Added to that, while just under 20% of the tuna catch in the Pacific EEZs is caught by domestic fleets, that is still a rising trend, on top of another area of increase-- the amount of the catch being processed on shore, where the majority of the jobs are filled by women.

A range of factors lead to these upward trends, amongst them an ability to implement at national level the results of regional agreements and actions for fisheries licensing, compliance, and monitoring policies, and management measures 

Our challenge in the region is to continue this growth, including extending it to a broader range of the membership and to all fisheries.  The success of the PNA members in leveraging huge returns from the purse seine fishery is our collective inspiration for also reforming and benefiting more from long lining for example.  

And of course, fisheries are not all rosy.  The Pacific faces numerous and substantial challenges including the overfished status of bigeye tuna, marginal economic status of albacore and concerted attacks on pacific islands sovereign rights from distant water fishing nations.