Proper management of tuna vital

GRACE CECILIA ROLAND, an intern with Pacifical in the Netherlands, talks about the importance of conservation and management as sustainable resource

PROPER conservation and management of tuna in the country plays a vital role in the efforts to maintaining its sustainability today and for future generations, an intern says.
Grace Cecilia Roland is an intern with Pacifical in the Netherlands, a global tuna market development company jointly set up by the eight parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Western Pacific island countries in 2011.
Roland shared her experience with The National as an intern in the Netherlands with the hope that after her internship with Pacifical, she would like to return to the country more equipped and specialised in the area of commercial tuna trade and market development in order to contribute to the country’s fishing and processing industry and the economy as a whole.
“Tuna is the largest seafood resource in the PNA region,” Roland said.
“Unlike other oceans where the fishery is high seas-based and no one takes responsibility for governance, the PNA fishery in zone, and the PNA nations, have 40 years of making the hard decisions needed for sustainability.”
Roland said the four main commercial tropical tuna species traded on the world market today were skipjack, yellow fin, Albacore and big-eye tuna.
“The PNA region, which includes Papua New Guinea, contributes around 40 to 50 per cent of skipjack and yellow fin tuna of the global tuna catch from within our economic exclusive zone (EEZ) waters,” she said.

Tuna catch and stock status by ocean. – Picture courtesy of SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY

“On the other hand, I could however, say that the region needs more domestic onshore investment in tuna processing, jobs, technology and better optimisation of harvests, rather than our resources going to feed offshore economies.”
“During my internship with Pacifical in the Netherlands, I learnt about how tuna is valued on the world market as seafood, the steps involved in offering sustainable tuna products to the end market and the giant retailers involved in the trading of tuna products.”
Roland said the main consumers of tuna in the world were in the European Union (EU) countries, the United States and Australia.
“As part of exposing interns on the current topics discussed in forums and events around EU, I was given the privilege to speak during the tuna night in Belgium about why tuna was an important resource in the PNA region,” she said.
“What was astounding was that a lot of people are not aware about the value that this natural resource has in the lives of our people and island economies.
“To them, to buy either unsustainable caught tuna or sustainable caught tuna is a choice depending on their consumer preferences.
“However, for us, the future of our tuna is our survival, it is very crucial to support tuna that is sustainably caught because we know how significant it is to us.”
Roland’s focus point was also how these dynamics affected or influenced the tuna affairs in PNG.
MSC works towards recognising and rewarding efforts by people and organisations to protect the oceans and safeguard seafood supplies for today and the future.
Because of MSC’s reputation in working with its partners for 20 years to protect the oceans and help maintain sustainable seafood, Pacifical partnered to do business with them in order to offer to the global market free school skip jack and yellow fin tuna that are sustainably caught in the PNA region.
“On the issue of sustainability, unsustainable fishing methods are ways of catching wild fish that are not considered sustainable in the long term,” she said.
“This could be because they threaten the fish stock itself by overfishing or because they threaten the environment the fish need to thrive.
The eight PNA countries are: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu plus the participating territory of Tokelau.
“Together, PNA has about 25 per cent of the world’s tuna catch and 50 per cent of all skipjack globally being caught in their waters,” Roland said.
“PNA’s free school skipjack and yellow fin purse seine fishery has been certified as being sustainable against the MSC standard since Dec 13, 2011, a world first for tuna purse seine fishery.”

Grace Roland making her speech during the tuna night in Belgium recently. Picture courtesy of GRACE ROLAND

She said PNA or Pacifical does not own tuna vessels, processing plants or any brands they create and organise supply chains in cooperation with their partners for end buyers.
The final products are recognisable by the MSC eco-label and the region’s geographical indication.
Pacifical’s goal was to promote the catch, production, distribution and marketing of the MSC certified sustainable free school skipjack and yellowfin tuna caught within PNA waters.
Roland’s aim was to learn and understand the global tuna industry with special attention going into the areas of global trade and marketing, sustainable fishing and the demand and supply for PNA MSC sustainable certified tuna around the world.
Roland is of Chimbu and Madang parentage and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management from Divine Word University in Madang.
She recently finished her role as management trainee at Steamships Trading Company and now as a Pacifical intern in the Netherlands.