Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Fisheries Regulations Approved by Cabinet

The Nauru Government has just approved two sets of new Regulations under the Fisheries Act to implement recent regional decisions improving the management of tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and the PNA subregion.

The Nauru Fishing Licence (FAD_Closure) Regulations 2009 give expression to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Ccommission decision (in CMM 2008-01) to ban fishing by purse-seiners on Fish Aggregation Devices and floating objects in the months of August and September 2009. This short term ban will end when these Regulations are repealed on October 1 2009 and will be replaced on 1st January 2010 by the Nauru Fisheries (PNA 3rd Implementing Arrangement) Regulations 2009, which include a 3 month ban by fishing by purse-seiners on Fish Aggregation Devices and floating objects from July to September (inclusive) of each year.

Nauru citizens should note that this FAD fishing ban only applies to industrial purse-seine vessels fishing outside the 12-mile limit of Nauru's Territorial Sea. It does not apply to fishing on the FADs deployed by NFMRA for the use of small-scale fishing boats.

The closure is not because "FADs are bad" but because it allows the PNA countries to fine-tune the industrial fishery catch composition - to reduce the proportion of bigeye and yellowfin and increase the proportion of skipjack in the purse-seine catch. The skipjack stock is in good health, but the industrial catches of bigeye and yellowfin need to be reduced.

FADs are considered to be environmentally-friendly in a coastal, small-scale fishery context. They reduce searching time and thus reduce fuel usage and improve safety at sea. Maintaining and replacing the coastal FADs will be a major part NFMRA's coastal fisheries strategy and contribute to improving Nauru food security.

A fish aggregation device, yesterday

The second set of regulations, the Nauru Fisheries (PNA Third Implementing Arrangement) Regulations 2009, give legal expression in Nauru waters to the Third Implementing Arrangement of the Nauru Agreement and also implement the remainder of Nauru's obligations under WCPFC CMM 2008-01). These Regulations come into force on January 1, 2010.

These Regulations, working in concert with similar regulations enacted by all the countries party to the Nauru Agreement, deny licences to fish within the waters of all PNA countries to any vessel which -

• fishes in the high seas areas enclosed largely by PNA exclusive economic zones (EEZs)
• sets nets on Fish Aggregation Devices (FAD) in the months July-September inclusive
• discards any catch at sea (with certain reasonable exceptions)
• does not carry a certified observer aboard at all times

This arrangement has been described as one of the most potentially effective decisions taken by a regional tuna management arrangement anywhere in the world to date, and the closure of the high seas pockets has been hailed by conservation organisations as a significant step towards effective management and conservation of sustainable regional fish stocks.

Again, these regulations apply only to industrial vessels fishing in the EEZ outside the 12-mile limit of the Nauru Territorial Sea. They do not apply to small-scale nearshore fishing boats.

The two high seas pockets closed by the PNA 3rd Implementing Arrangement

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