Economics – Capturing employment and revenue benefits
The 14 small island developing states (SIDS) in the WCPO derive economic growth from fisheries in their waters, to improve local livelihoods and increase employment.
Policy and Rules
Rules support economic development of Pacific island states
Conservation and management measures (CMMs) describe binding decisions agreed on by the members and cooperating non-members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission at their annual meeting. These two groups and a third, participating territories, are known collectively as CCMs. Among the members are the 14 small island developing states (SIDS) of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
CMMs direct the policies and rules of SIDS and other members for managing tuna fisheries. They include ways of capturing employment and revenue benefits from oceanic fishing.
Resolutions describe non-binding statements and recommendations agreed on by members and cooperating non-members of the WCPFC.
WCPFC maintains updates to the CMMs and resolutions.
- Provide institutional support to develop the capacity of citizens of SIDS in any fisheries discipline. This could be through internships, academic study, and training programs.
- Promote the development and transfer of fisheries science and technology to SIDS for their economic and social benefit. This includes the capacity to explore, exploit, conserve and manage oceanic fish stocks.
- Assist SIDS in implementing fisheries conservation and management obligations by collecting, reporting, verifying, and exchanging fisheries data and information
- Improve SIDS monitoring, control and surveillance activities, including at sea. Methods include regional, sub-regional and bilateral arrangements, funding observer programs, and providing access to technology and equipment.
- Support SIDS fishery industries to help them achieve maximum benefits from developing their fisheries resources. These should account for at least 50% of the total catch and value of oceanic fisheries, and increase local employment opportunities.
- Support market access for SIDS fishery industries by promoting awareness of import conditions, eliminating trade barriers, and promoting activities that develop domestic fisheries-related businesses
2008-01,Aspirations of SIDS and territories
- CCMs (developed members, cooperating non-members, and participating territories)should improve the ability of SIDS to develop their own fisheries, including on the high seas in the convention area
- Developed CCMs shall make efforts to reduce or restructure their fleets to accommodate the aspirations of SIDS
- Developed CCMs shall cooperate in investing in fishing vessels and related facilities in SIDS that assist the development on shore of domestic fisheries
- CCMs commit to ensuring that SIDS domestic fishing and related industries account for a greater share of the benefit from the catch and value of oceanic fisheries by 2018, compared to 2008
- When adopting CMMs, members and CCMs need to ensure that SIDS do not carry a disproportionate burden of conservation actions, and that measures improve the ability of SIDS to develop their own fisheries
- Developed CCMs will ensure that CMMs do not constrain SIDS coastal processing and transhipment facilities, or associated vessels
Extra rules apply in PNA waters
Article 5 of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (signed in 1982 and amended in 2010) discusses the role of the PNA Office (PNAO).
One of its goals is to keep numbers of tuna at sustainable levels while maximising the incomes of citizens of member states. The Palau Arrangement for the operation of the Purse Seine Vessel Day Scheme (amended October 2016) and a similar arrangement for the Longline Vessel Day Scheme (amended October 2016) say how the PNAO manages tuna numbers. The arrangements set out the operating rules for these two types of fishing vessels. Under the rules, the PNA members sell a limited number of fishing days in the exclusive economic zones of the PNA states.
Every year, PNAO economists assess rents against changes in prices and costs, and this information is used to set benchmark fees. Fishing days are sold annually to industrial fishing nations, either as part of a negotiated bilateral agreement or through a tender. PNA members are also exploring options to strengthen the selling of fishing days by auction.
Global heating and climate change are creating widespread changes in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). Many of these changes interact with each other.
Some of the changes that affect the tuna fisheries of the WCPO are:
- the temperature of the surface layer of ocean water is rising
- the ocean is becoming more acidic
- sea levels are rising
- storms, floods, and cyclones are becoming more intense
- rain patterns are shifting, and the amount of rain that falls is changing.
Rising sea levels are a huge problem for the small island developing states (SIDS) of the WCPO. Many of these small nations are made up of low-lying islands surrounded by coral reefs. They are already losing land, which is disappearing under higher seas.
The change in coastlines may affect their exclusive economic zones (EEZs). The boundaries of EEZs were fixed under the terms of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the SIDS want to ensure these boundaries are kept even if their land masses shrink. This is important for their economies, because they control the fishing grounds inside their EEZs.
The security of their international boundaries is so important it is formalised in many regional and sub-regional agreements. The Pacific Island Forum (PIF) countries state in the Kainaki II Declaration refers to the UNCLOS EEZ provisions (clause 14 of Annex 1) that they:
aim to ensure that once a Forum Members maritime zones are delineated in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), that the Members maritime zones could not be challenged or reduced as a result of sea level rise and climate change.
One of the six strategic areas of the Boe Declaration Action Plan is climate security. This also calls on EEZ boundaries to be protected.
The Kainaki II Declaration is the first time the Pacific Islands Forum has agreed and declared that there is a climate change crisis facing the Pacific Island nations. Clauses 1720 of the Kainaki II Declaration outline the members call for urgent, transformational action to address global climate change.
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Research and Training
Fisheries in the economies of Pacific Islands countries and territories is a study of the fisheries of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). It outlines the development of its fisheries of each of 22 Pacific Island countries and territories. It also assesses how much the fisheries contribute to gross domestic product (GDP).
The study fills gaps in the links between fishing and incomes. It investigates the main features of each countrys offshore and coastal fisheries and aquaculture, as well as domestic fish consumption and export, and household income and spending. It updates an edition released in 2009.
The most important findings showed that:
- Coastal fisheries production has not increased greatly in the15 years 19992014.
- But the population of the region is increasing, which means thatthe amount of fish that people produce from the coastal fisheries has declined dramatically by about 6% from 2007 to 2014. This is a dramatic decline.
- Foreign-based offshore fishing continues to increase. This is mostly due to increased purse-seine catches.
- Purse-seine fishing increased despite the introduction of thePNAVessel Day Scheme and a steep increase in access fees. This shows how effective the scheme is.
Some surprising facts emerged from the study
Country visits to report on economic value of fishing
SPC uses its data and conducts visits to countries to produce specific reports on the economic value of their fishing catch. Once a Pacific Island country has this information, it is in a stronger position to negotiate a better deal with foreign fleets. SPC researcher Steven Hare explains (57 secs).
Bioeconomic tool helps countries plan their fishing efforts
SPC and FFA have developed a tool that combines biological and economic knowledge into a ‘bioeconomic’ tool. It helps countries decide the level of fishing effort they will set, depending on their economic and sustainability goals. SPCs Steven Hare explains that the tool was developed to meet the needs of the Pacific Island states (3.00 minutes).
Training fisheries managers helps realise economic benefits in the WCPO
- fisheries management
- economic analysis and bioeconomic modelling of fisheries
- policy development, investment appraisal, and international commerce
- international fisheries negotiations.
FFA delivers training after formal requests from members, and when recommendations are made through the Forum Fisheries Committee. When a need is identified, FFA considers how to meet that need with its limited resources and the expertise that is available.
The Pacific Communitys Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) provides its members with scientific services relating to the management of oceanic fisheries, primarily of tuna.
Resources on the economics of tuna fishing in the WCPO
- Tuna economic development indicators 2019, FFA; economic indicators for earlier years are also available
- The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has published 6 fact sheets on economic opportunities that may be realised from WCPFC oceanic and coastal waters, in line with the UN sustainable development goals
- Gender and fisheries in Fiji: summary of key issues, Pacific Community, 2018
- Gender and fisheries in Samoa: summary of key issues, Pacific Community, 2018
- Gender and fisheries in Tonga: summary of key issues, Pacific Community, 2018
- Gender and fisheries in Vanuatu: summary of key issues, Pacific Community, 2018
- What Pacific islands are doing to manage tuna fishing, WCFPC
- Ensuring the sustainability of Pacific tuna: Parties to the Nauru Agreement, WWF Pacific, 2011
- FFA advises members about developments in international trade policy and economic cooperation frameworks, and how to advance their individual and collective fisheries interests in trade policy and economic partnership negotiations. Regular trade and industry reports includefisheries industry briefings.
- Pathways to sustaining tuna-dependent Pacific Island economies during climate change, Nature Sustainability, 2021
- Value of WCPFC-CA tuna fisheries 2020, FFA; estimates of the value of catch in the WCPFC area, updated annually, sourced from the Oceanic Fisheries Programme of the Pacific Community
- Netting billions 2020: a global tuna valuation, Pew Charitable Trusts
- Overview of tuna fisheries in the WCPO, including economic conditions, 2019, WCPFC Scientific Committee, 3rd revision published August 2020
- Fishing for success: lesson in Pacific regionalism, a history of the PNA by Transform Aqorau, published by the Australian National University, 2020
- Gender in tuna value chains: case studies from Indonesia and Solomon Islands, Women in Fisheries Bulletin, no. 31, SPC, March 2020. Other articles in the journal include profiles of women working in fisheries, and barriers and constraints to women’s participation in fisheries.
- Recommended best practices for tuna longline fisheries and for tropical tuna purse-seine fisheries in transition to MSC certification, ISSF, 2020
- An evaluation of the sustainability of global tuna stocks relative to Marine Stewardship Council criteria, ISSF, 2020
- Tuna fisheries, World Bank, report on how tuna fisheries can contribute to economic growth of Pacific Island states
- Information paper on labour rights in the fishing industry(the case of unpaid salary disputes on fishing vessels), paper presented to WCPFC 16th session, December 2019
- Gender analysis of the fisheries sector in the Federated States of Micronesia, Pacific Community, 2019
- Assessing tuna fisheries governance for community wellbeing: case studies from Indonesia and Solomon Islands, full report, by Nicholas McClean, Kate Barclay and others, University of Technology, Sydney, 2019. There is also a summary.
- Regionally harmonised minimum terms and conditions for access to commercial tuna fisheries in FFA members waters, Forum Fisheries Agency
- Annual FFA reports on tuna economic indicators, 20152019. These reports give an overview, among other things, of trends in catch, catch value and economic conditions in the tuna fisheries of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, and their impact on the countries that are part of FFA.
- Gender analysis of the fisheries sector: Solomon Islands, Pacific Community, 2018
- Baseline study and performance indicators for the Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP2), draft of a report written for the FFA, 2017. It examines the state of health of fisheries and the environments they are part of, and the measures in place to conserve and manage both.
- Improving tuna governance institutions by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Wageningen University & Research, 2016
- How tuna is shaping regional diplomacy, by Transform Aqorau, chapter inThe New Pacific Diplomacy, edited by Greg Fry and Sandra Tarte, published by ANU Press, The Australian National University, 2015
- Sources for economic data on the tuna fisheries of the Western and Central Pacific and globally, FFA; links to sources of information categorised by country, vessels, catch and effort, fishing and processing, trade data and markets, macroeconomics, and investment and tax regimes.
- Trends in economic conditions in the southern longline fishery, by Chris Reid and Jason Raubani, for the Scientific Committee of the WCFPC, 2015. The authors develop an index of economic conditions in the southern longline fishery to better understand historical trends in economic conditions in the fishery and drivers of change.
- Fisheries development strategy for developing Pacific Island countries: case study of Tuvalu, Filitua Siaosi, Hsiang-Wen Huang, and Ching-Ta Chuang, in Ocean and Coastal Management, volume 66, 2012
- Market and industry dynamics in the global tuna supply chain, FFA, 2011
- A new approach to maximize economic benefits from tuna resources: Development of the concept, report by Kwame Mfodwo to the Forum Fisheries Agency, 2009
- Economic and management implications of stock assessments on key tuna stocks in the WCPO, by Chris Reid, Samasoni Sauni and Les Clark, for the Scientific Committee of the WCFPC, 2007. This paper describes the approach to multi-species, multi-gear analysis of management options being used by the FFA secretariat. Options are assessed against Convention criteria of ensuring sustainability, promoting optimum use, and avoiding a disproportionate burden on SIDS.
- Recommended best practices for regional fisheries management organisations, Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs), 2007
Posters and videos
- Purse seine fishing, a video introduction to what is involved and how fishing is done, produced by Pasifika Communications for Pacific Community, 2012 [19 mins]
FSM’s Eugene Pangelinan talks about the economic importance of tuna at an OFMP2 forum. He mentions several factors, such as chain of custody, and traceability, that need to become embedded so that fisheries businesses are viable (1.42 mins).
John Maefiti from the Pacific Island Tuna Industry Association (PITIA) talks at an OFMP2 forum about the importance of the domestic tuna fisheries in Pacific Island economies. He also mentions the biggest threat to these economies: some distant fishing nations sending too many fishing vessels to the region (1.09 mins).
Pacifical is a brand of tuna marketed by PNA countries. Here, they talk about their approach to environmentally and socially sustainable tuna (4.55 mins).
The Marshall Islands Journal showcases fresh tuna processing in Majuro in 2017 (2.31 mins).