Papua New Guinea backs transparency in tuna fisheries

It became the first country in the Pacific to share its tuna vessel tracking data on the Global Fishing Watch map.
Papua New Guinea backs transparency in tuna fishing with support from Global Fishing Watch. The country has a coastline stretching 10 000 miles (16 093 kilometers). Photo: Adobe Stock.
Papua New Guinea backs transparency in tuna fishing with support from Global Fishing Watch. The country has a coastline stretching 10 000 miles (16 093 kilometers). Photo: Adobe Stock.

Last autumn the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority, with the support of the Fishing Industry Association, made a back to transparency in its tuna fisheries by signing a partnership with Global Fishing Watch in which it pledged to share vessel tracking data on the organization's public map. Now, making this commitment a reality, the movements of around 50 purse seine tuna fishing vessels have been publicly visible on the interactive map since last June. It is the first country in the Pacific to share this data.

A vital industry for the country

The fishing industry in Papua New Guinea – one of the countries making its debut at this year's Seafood Expo North America – is vital not only to the country's economy, but also to its food security, and to the livelihoods of those that reside within this island nation. With a coastline stretching 10 000 miles (16 093 kilometers), Papua New Guinea's waters cover an area just over half the size of Australia and are home to some of the world's most productive tuna fisheries. If the country's marine resources are to continue to provide for people in the future, monitoring and sustainable management of fisheries within this vast area is essential.

"Our tuna fishery is one of the largest in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and represents a key source of protein for more than 9 million people in Papua New Guinea," said Justin Ilakini of the National Fisheries Authority in Papua New Guinea. "Taking care of our tuna stocks is a priority, and with support from Global Fishing Watch's monitoring technology, we can strengthen enforcement, contribute to regional collaboration to eliminate illegal fishing and also demonstrate our commitment to promoting food security and the blue economy."

With this agreement, Papua New Guinea's tuna fisheries reach what Global Fishing Watch defines as "a new level of transparency." In the coming years, the country plans to expand its Fishing Industry Association membership and bring more vessels into its national waters with the aim of sharing even more monitoring data. To this end, Global Fishing Watch is supporting both the National Fisheries Authority and the Fishing Industry Association with knowledge generation and analysis so that they can improve their monitoring capabilities.

Doing the right thing in responsible tuna sourcing

As mentioned, there are currently around 50 Association vessels authorized to operate within Papua New Guinea's exclusive economic zone. This area covers approximately 2.4 million square kilometers. Making fishing data more transparent and accessible not only helps improve vessel monitoring efforts throughout the region, it also helps inform decision-makers.

"Transparency across all aspects of the tuna fisheries is crucial to ensuring that the fish we eat is caught legally, ethically and sustainably," stated Sylvester Barth Pokajam, chairman of Papua New Guinea's Fishing Industry Association when announcing the collaboration last autumn. "Our members want to know they are doing the right thing when it comes to responsible tuna sourcing, and by making fishing activities visible on the Global Fishing Watch map, they can help demonstrate compliance and add real value to their fishing operations."

Marcelo Hidalgo, director of sustainability and corporate social responsibility at the Papua New Guinea Fishing Industry Association, expressed himself along the same lines. "We are engaging with key stakeholders that can strengthen our Responsible Sourcing Policy initiative," he said. "We believe this new partnership with Global Fishing Watch to share our vessel tracking data is integral in building trust with commercial partners and nongovernmental organizations, representing another milestone in our transparency policy to support members and demonstrate responsible sourcing in Papua New Guinea."

About Global Fishing Watch

Global Fishing Watch seeks to promote ocean governance through greater transparency of human activity at sea. Using cutting-edge technology, they turn big data into actionable information that they then share. By creating and publicly sharing map visualizations, data, and analysis tools, they facilitate scientific research and drive a transformation in the way the ocean is managed. By 2030, their goal is to monitor and visualize the impact of both industrial and small-scale offshore vessels, which are responsible for the vast majority of the world's seafood catch.

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