The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) controls the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse-seine fishery. PNA countries provide around 50% of the global supply of skipjack tuna, the most commonly canned tuna.

PNA members are: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

The Parties to the Nauru Agreement have an observer on-board every one of their licenced purse-seine fishing vessels in PNA waters. Observers are independent monitors of what happens at sea, and an important tool in keeping a watch on compliance with PNA conservation and management rules.

Article 2 of the Agreement (signed in 1982 and amended in 2010) cites the need for “the placement of observers on fishing vessels”. The second arrangement for implementing the Agreement also states that upon request by the licensing Party, observers will be placed on vessels at the full cost of the vessel operator or its government (including travel, salary and insurance).

The third arrangement for implementing the Agreement states that all foreign purse seine vessels need to carry an observer at all times to monitor compliance with catch retention and FAD closure.

The Article of the Federated States of Micronesia Arrangement (Article 17) makes provision for all national fishing vessels fishing in each other’s waters to carry an observer. This scheme is administered by the Regional Observer Agency.

When fishing on the High Seas, vessels are also required to have an observer on board. The Regional Observer Programme (ROP) is based on the use of existing regional, sub-regional and national observer programmes already in place among many of its members.

An observer sits among tuna, in Solomon Island waters. Photo credit: Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)