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.

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

The member states of 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 helping ensure that vessels comply with PNA conservation and management rules. The observers are part of the official Regional Observer Programme (ROP), which is based on regional, sub-regional and national observer programmes that were already in place among many of its members.

Article 2 of the agreement (signed in 1982, and amended in 2010) states the need for “the placement of observers on fishing vessels”.

The second arrangement for implementing the agreement, which sets out additional conditions, reiterates this. It states (in Article 1) that, at the request of the licensing party, observers will be placed on vessels at the full cost of the vessel operator or its government. The cost includes travel, salary and insurance.

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

Article 17 of the Federated States of Micronesia Arrangement for Regional Fisheries Access 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 Programme.

When fishing on the high seas, vessels are also required to have an observer on board.

An observer in Solomon Islands waters sits among tuna. Photo credit: Francisco Blaha.