In 2018, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) made a commitment to ensure full transparency in its tuna fishery by 2023 through a combination of electronic monitoring (EM) and human observer coverage in all industrial fishing vessels operating in its territorial waters. Full transparency in the fishery would provide the opportunity to implement new, potentially more effective, management strategies that would otherwise be difficult to carry out. In order to prepare for this “next generation” of fishery management, FSM’s National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA) has requested an analysis of their current, effort-based longline Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) regime, compared to output-based options, such as catch quotas, that can be made possible and/or more effective under full transparency. FSM is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), an intergovernmental agency of 17 countries applying a coordinated and mutually beneficial approach to the conservation, management and development of regional tuna stocks. Because tuna are highly mobile pelagic species, the collective actions of member nations are crucial to the sustainable management of the fishery. Within FFA, FSM is one of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), a subregional agreement between eight FFA members who control around 50% of the global supply of skipjack tuna. PNA countries currently employ a VDS management regime for their fleets. A regional scale shift to output-based longline management may have implications beyond those that would occur under country-level implementation.
This research aims to weigh the tradeoffs between a business-as-usual scenario of VDS management versus a transition to output-based management aided by EM. We will investigate the possible outcomes of these scenarios at a country level (FSM), subregional level (PNA), and regional level (FFA). Our results will help to inform the sustainable management of a fishery with high socioeconomic and ecological significance to Pacific Island communities.
- What are the main challenges obstructing the sustainable management of FSM’s industrial longline fleet under VDS?
- Based on the best available knowledge, what are the pros and cons of switching FSM’s longline management regime from VDS to an output-based system?
- How does the availability of electronic monitoring affect the tradeoffs in switching from VDS to output-based management?
- How do these tradeoffs change at different scales (e.g., FSM, PNA and FFA)?
We will convene a group of experts in Pacific Islands fisheries management at the outset of the project to help guide our approach to the questions above. Building off of the expert guidance we receive during this meeting, we will complete a literature review of the status and challenges in the longline fleet in the western/central Pacific, the potential pros and cons of both a VDS and an output-based system in this context, and the potential role of electronic monitoring in these arenas. We will synthesize our findings from this research to address the four questions posed above.