Op-Ed: Fishing: 3o Years of Co-operative Tuna Management
This year PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement) celebrates 30 years of sub-regional co-operative fisheries management.
It has been a remarkable journey for eight Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). Their voyage has been long, and the currents and waves they have encountered along the way have been strong.
But they have planted some landmarks along the way and shaped the configuration of international fisheries. Their voyage, however, has not ended.
It is only beginning. They are not quite as close to the shores as they would like to be, but they have established a good framework over the past 30 years. The navigation beacons are up, and the foundations have been laid. These will guide them home, to those celestial shores.
It is a journey that has not been traversed without challenges, but it has survived 30 years. It is fitting that they reflect on their achievements, the challenges ahead, and ask, whether we of the latter generation have fulfilled the wishes of the founding fathers of PNA.
Let me venture to repudiate a common misconception about the PNA; that PNA is a new organisation, that it is a splinter group, that it undermines regional solidarity. It is none of these.
As is self evident by the anniversary, the Nauru Group or Parties to the Nauru Agreement more colloquially known as the “PNA” is 30 years old! It is older than some of the conventional regional organisations in the region.
The PNA makes no bones of its economic goals and aspirations. It is no secret, it is not some hidden agenda. It merely reiterates the inspiration that drove Pacific Islands Forum Leaders of the ilk of the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara when they called on Pacific Islands nations to declare their 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones.
These waters are full of the much sought-after tuna that feed women and children of developed states and provide jobs for thousands of people in the Philippines and Thailand. They foreshadowed that instead it could be us, Pacific Islanders, eating our own fish, which we produce ourselves, providing the much needed employment opportunities for our men and women.