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Press Release – Majuro Workshop Explores Management Options for Pacific Bigeye Tuna Overfishing

MAJURO, REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS (21 August 2015) A workshop to discuss bigeye tuna management in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) was convened by the Marshall Islands Marine Resource Authority (MIMRA) and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (WPFMC) on Aug. 19-21, 2015, in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands. The workshop brought together representatives from Asian, U.S. and Pacific Island purse-seine and longline fishing industries, government officials of Pacific Island countries, and representatives from the Forum Fisheries Agency, Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and non-governmental organizations. The workshop was chaired by Andrew Wright, former executive director of the WCPFC.

Bigeye tuna, which is currently subjected to overfishing in the WCPO, is managed internationally through the WCPFC. The objective of the workshop was to identify options that could help improve the existing WCPFC bigeye conservation and management measure.

As summarized by Kitty Simonds, WPFMC executive director, “The workshop was the second in a series that was started in April 2015 in Honolulu to address bigeye overfishing. The workshop embodied the spirit of cooperation that was present in the development of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which was initiated 20 years ago by the Majuro Declaration. It is critical that the fishing industries and governments work together to improve the status of bigeye; only through international cooperation can effective tuna conservation and management measures be adopted and implemented.”

Over the course of the three-day workshop, participants discussed purse-seine and longline management options, avoiding the transfer of a disproportionate conservation burden on Small Island Developing States and Territories (SIDS), compliance issues and key bigeye tuna research themes. The outcomes of the workshop are a contribution to the consultations that will involve all WCPFC members that will take place in the lead up to this year’s annual session of the Commission in Bali in December.

According to Glen Joseph, MIMRA director, “The status quo is not acceptable for bigeye conservation, and workshops like the one we just held are critically important to advance options and views on management measures well before the Commission meets in Bali in December. For most of the Pacific Islands, all we have is tuna, and we have to do everything in our power to ensure that tuna resources are sustainably managed.”