Solomon Islands is one of the eight Pacific island nations currently in Majuro, Marshall Islands, with the aim of tightening conservation measures on our tunas.

The eight countries, known as Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), control an area where more than a quarter of the world's tuna is caught. The countries are Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu and Marshall Islands.

"They want to increase the share they receive from the tuna catch. There are far too many days available for fishing and too many boats fishing in the region now," said Solomon Islander, Transform Aqorau, who is also the director of the Majuro-based PNA.

"Reducing the number of fishing vessels and the number of days they can fish in the economic zones of the eight countries will accomplish both conservation and revenue generation goals," he said.

Officials are meeting from Monday for three days before their ministers meet on Thursday to approve new policies.

The PNA plans to expand a system where the licensing of fishing vessels is replaced by a scheme where approvals for a number of fishing days are sold to the highest bidder.

"Increasing revenue by cutting the number of boats and days for fishing will increase the value of the fishery," Aqorau said. "Conservation is at the heart of the issue."

The fishing day scheme has been introduced for purse seine vessels which net the relatively abundant skipjack tuna used for the canned fish market.

The PNA wants to expand it to the longline fishing vessels which use hooked lines to fish for bigeye and yellowfin tuna for the Japanese sushi and sashimi markets.

Scientists report that both bigeye and yellowfin species are being overfished and are in danger without significant reductions in annual catches.

Source: Google News, AFP