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The designations employed and the presentation of material in the map(s) are for illustration only and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of frontiers or boundaries.

Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2017)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • Inland sub-sector
    • Aquaculture sub-sector
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
    • Regional and international legal framework
  7. Annexes
  8. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country brief

Nauru has a population of 11 000 in 2015, a land area of 21 km2, a coastline of 24 km and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 320 000 km2. Fisheries contribution to GDP in 2008/2009 was estimated as USD 1.6 million, 2.9 percent of the national GDP. Fish is an important component of the Nauruan diet, with local fish consumption averaging 52.3 kg/person/year in 2013.In 2014, 53 boats under 12 m LOA were reported and 3 166 people employed in fisheries, with 7% women in the total. In aquaculture 34 men and 4 women were reported to be employed in 2014.

Nauru was formerly rich in phosphate, which has been the country’s principal source of income for many years. Phosphate resources are now depleted and the country needs to develop alternative sources of income to replace mining revenues. Fisheries development in Nauru is considered to be a major economic prospect for the future. Although possessing only a very shallow lagoon (much of which dries at low tide) and a narrow fringing reef, the food produced by fishing in these inshore areas is very important in the Nauru diet. Nauru’s open ocean areas are frequented by an abundance of tuna and other pelagic species. The harvests of tuna in Nauru waters are substantial, but the vast majority of the catch is taken by foreign industrial fishing vessels. The access fees paid by those vessels form a large portion of the government revenue. Total catch by Nauru flagged vessels in 2016 is estimated by FAO at about 530 tonnes.

The annual catch taken from the Nauru EEZ has ranged in recent years from between (approximately) 20 000 and 67 000 tonnes but most of them are taken by foreign purse seiners. Over 90 percent of the catch is tunas, with various non-tuna species, mainly large pelagic. There is no fleet operating by Nauru flag vessels in offshore areas. Coastal fishing is carried out for subsistence purposes and is sold in local markets.

Traditionally, juvenile milkfish were collected on the intertidal reef and reared in brackish water ponds. The most important areas for farming were Buada Lagoon and, to a lesser extent, the Anabar pond. Farming was divided among families, with walls and fences, and the people had an intricate social fabric intertwined with milkfish culture. The Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) was introduced around 1961, and eventually infested all the milkfish ponds and competed for food. Many farmers abandoned their traditional practice of raising milkfish. Currently there are several milkfish grow-out ponds around Nauru. These are backyard/subsistence operations. The aquaculture production is estimated below 1 tonne in 2016.

Nauru is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and central Pacific Ocean.
 
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1 - Nauru -General Geographic and Economic Data

    Source
Shelf area:

13 km²

Sea Around US:

www.seaaroundus.org/

Length of continental coastline: 30 km

World by Map

Fisheries GDP (2014): 2.3 % National GDP

Gillet, 20161

*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate

Key statistics

 Source
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area310 645km2VLIZ
GDP (current US$)114millionsWorld Bank. 2017
GDP per capita (current US$)8 344US$World Bank. 2017
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added3.64% of GDPWorld Bank. 2015

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsTable 2 in this section is based on statistics prepared by the Statistics and Information Branch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and disseminated in 2016. The charts are based on the same source but these are automatically updated every year with the most recent disseminated statistics.

Table 2 — Nauru — FAO fisheries statistics

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2014 2015 2016
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 4.54 1.554
  Aquaculture 0.03 0.038
  Capture 4.51 1.516
    Inland
    Marine 4.51 1.516
                   
FLEET(thousands boats) 0.112 0.105
                   
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
1) Due to rounding total may not sum up


Please Note:Fishery statistical data here presented exclude the production for marine mammals, crocodiles, corals, sponges, pearls, mother-of-pearl and aquatic plants.

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Updated 2017Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sector

Nauru is a single, raised coralline island with a land area of only 21 km2, but with an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that extends over more than 431 000 km2. The island lies 41 km south of the equator. Nauru was formerly rich in phosphate, but those resources are now depleted and the country needs to develop alternative sources of income to replace mining revenues. With porous soils and uncertain rainfall, Nauru has limited opportunities for agricultural production. Fisheries development is considered to be a major economic prospect for the future.

Although Nauru has only a very shallow lagoon, much of which dries at low tide, and a narrow fringing reef, the food produced by fishing in these inshore areas is very important in the Nauru diet. The harvest of tuna in Nauru waters is substantial, but almost all of the catch is taken by overseas-based industrial fishing vessels. The access fees paid by those vessels form a large proportion of government revenue.

To understand fisheries in Nauru, some knowledge of the recent economic history of the country is required. Box 1 summarizes the situation.



Box 1: Nauru’s recent economic history

In the mid-1970s to the 1980s, Nauru was one of the richest countries in the world per capita due to its export of phosphate. In 2000, the economic crisis altered the living standards of the population. At the time, 95 percent of the workforce were public servants and mainly relied upon phosphate royalties as sources of income. During the peak years of phosphate mining, Nauruans enjoyed a high standard of living where household needs, including food and drinking water, were imported from overseas and distributed through local retail outlets. In 2000, when the large-scale commercial mining of phosphate ceased but residual mining continued, both government revenue and average household income were reduced dramatically. Those families who were once highly privileged in comparison with much of the world’s population found it difficult to provide for their day-to-day needs.

A socio-economic assessment report by Australia highlighted a significant deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Nauru since the beginning of 2004. Food security has emerged as a serious issue as a consequence of policy failure and chronic economic decline. This resulted in a total regression of development with people resorting to basic subsistence fishing and farming for survival. Men, women and children forage daily on reefs, there is daily hunting of birds for food, and families resort to extended family systems to barter food for imported food items.

Source: Modified from Deiye (2015) and PROCFish (2007)

Fisheries statistics can be presented in different forms to cater for different purposes. For the Nauru statistics published by FAO in Part 1 of this profile, the presentation follows the international conventions and standards used by FAO and its Member States for reporting catches, which are given by the flag of the catching vessel. Accordingly, the fishery and aquaculture production of Nauru in 2014 published by FAO (as given in Part 1) was 530 tonnes.

In Table 3 below, Nauru fishery production statistics include the catch by Nauru-flagged vessels,1 the catch by small boats operated by Nauru nationals and the catch from fishing activities that do not involve a vessel (e.g. reef gleaning). The offshore category in the table is defined as the catch from Nauru-flagged, industrial-scale fishing operations that are carried out anywhere in the western and central Pacific Ocean (i.e. inside or outside Nauru waters).





Table 3: Nauru fisheries production in 2014 (as per FAO reporting standards)

 AquacultureFreshwater

Coastal

commercial

Coastal

subsistence

Nauru-flagged offshore
Volume (tonnes) 001632100

Value

(USD)

001 071 275 965 4380


The amounts of production given in the above table differ from those shown in Part 1. The table gives production estimated from a variety of sources (see SPC study below), whereas the quantities reported in Part 1 are generally those reported to FAO by the Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority (NFMRA).

A recent study by the Pacific Community (SPC) presented Nauru’s fishery statistics in a different way. The SPC study reports the amount of catch in Nauru fishery waters, regardless of vessel flag. The catches are also placed in different categories, which is useful for other purposes, such as administration of the large amount of foreign fishing that occurs in the fishery waters of Nauru. A summary of the fishery production from the SPC study is given in Table 4.

Table 4: Fisheries production in Nauru waters
2014AquacultureFreshwater

Coastal

commercial

Coastal

subsistence

Offshore

locally

based2

Offshore

foreign-based3

     Both Nauru- and foreign-flagged vessels
Volume (tonnes) 001632100177 315
Value (USD)001 071 275 965 4380231 229 508
Source: Gillett (2016)

Some comment is required to explain the difference between the information in this table and that in Part 1 of this profile:

  • Catches can be given by the flag of the catching vessel (as in the FAO statistics given in Part 1), or by the zone where the catch is made (the “offshore foreign-based” and “offshore locally based” columns in the table above). These two different ways of allocating catches each have their purposes. Attribution by flag is important for consistency with international conventions, while attribution by zone is important for determining fishing contributions to GDP and managing revenue from license fees for foreign fishing in a country’s zone.
  • There is no fisheries statistical system in Nauru covering the entire categories of aquaculture and coastal subsistence/commercial fishing. The estimates above were made in a 2015 SPC study that examined a large number of fishery and economic studies covering the last two decades.


1) There are currently no offshore fishing vessels operating from Nauru. The two longliners formerly owned by the Nauru Fisheries Trading Corporation (12 m and 15 m) have not operated since the mid-2000s.

2) In the SPC study, “offshore locally based” is the catch by industrial-scale tuna fishing operations that are (a) based at a port in Nauru, and (b) generally harvested more than 12 nautical miles offshore.

3) “Offshore foreign-based” is the catch in the Nauru zone from catch from industrial-scale tuna fishing operations that are based at ports outside Nauru. Under the international, standardized System of National Accounts (SNA, 2009), those catches do not contribute to Nauru’s GDP.





Marine sub-sector

The marine fisheries have two very distinct components, offshore and coastal:

  • There is no domestic fleet operating in offshore areas. Offshore fisheries are dominated by purse-seine fishing by foreign-flagged vessels, with a small amount of foreign longlining.
  • Coastal fishing is carried out for subsistence purposes and for sale in local markets.


Catch profile

Catches of tuna in Nauru waters for recent years are given in Table 5.4 The quantities show that there is much inter-annual variation in the amount of tuna captured in the Nauru EEZ. A climatic event known as El Niño tends to shift the fishery toward the eastern part of the Nauru EEZ.

Table 5: Tuna catches in the offshore fisheries in Nauru waters (tonnes)
YearSkipjackYellowfinBigeyeTotal
201182 25617 0228 399107 677
201242 2968 7513 60554 652
201398 61012 9331 617113 160
2014144 17524 5997 505176 279
201553 24414 5501 07968 873
Source: NFMRA (2016)

In the absence of a fisheries statistical system covering all Nauru’s coastal fisheries, there have been four substantive attempts to make crude estimates of its coastal fisheries production:

  • Dalzell et al. (1992) gave the following coastal catch information: subsistence fisheries – 98 tonnes; commercial fisheries – 279 tonnes.
  • Gillett and Lightfoot (2001) considered the surveys above and other sources of information to produce estimates of 315 tonnes for coastal commercial fisheries production, and 110 tonnes for coastal subsistence production.
  • Gillett (2009a) considered the two surveys above and recent changes in Nauru (economy, population) and estimated coastal commercial fisheries production at 200 tonnes and coastal subsistence production at 450 tonnes.
  • Gillett (2016) considered the three surveys above and other studies (e.g. a household income and expenditure survey) and estimated coastal commercial fisheries production at 163 tonnes, and coastal subsistence production at 210 tonnes.


4) The difference between the total 2014 catch in the table (176 679 tonnes) and that given in Section 4.1 (177 315 tonnes) is due to the inclusion of bycatch in the latter.

Landing sites

Catches from the offshore fishery are not offloaded in Nauru. Depending on the flag of the vessel, tunas are either transshipped for transport to a cannery (seiners from Taiwan and Korea), delivered directly to Pago Pago (US vessels), or delivered to a port in Japan (Japanese vessels). Some vessels may make direct deliveries to canneries in the Philippines.

The catch obtained from fishing in shallow inshore waters is landed all around Nauru wherever fishers can swim, wade, or walk ashore. Most of the catch from fishing further offshore from canoes and skiffs is landed at a few artificial channels through the fringing reef. Grabab Channel at the southwest of the island is used during the prevailing easterly winds, while Anibare Bay is used during winds from the northwest.

Fishing practices/systems

Box 2 gives some highlights of Nauru’s involvement in offshore fisheries. Currently, all offshore fishing in Nauru waters is carried out by foreign-flagged, foreign-based vessels.



Box 2: Some history of Nauru offshore fisheries

Nauru does not have a strong history in offshore tuna fishing. Early surveys conducted from 1971 to 1974 by the Japan Marine Fishery Resources Research Centre concluded that domestic pole-and-line fishing was not feasible due to the lack of suitable baitfish around Nauru. However, Japanese distant-water pole-and-line vessels, carrying their own baitfish, took 25 000 tonnes of tuna between 1972 and 1978 in areas that would now be in the Nauru EEZ. Foreign longline fishing activities were also undertaken in the mid-1970s, with annual catches of 948 to 2 799 tonnes. Some exploratory purse-seining was also undertaken in the waters around Nauru in the late 1970s, with 83 tonnes of tuna caught in two sets. In an attempt to enter the tuna fishery, the Nauru Fishing Corporation was established in 1976 by the Nauru Government. The Nauru Fishing Corporation purchased two 948 GRT purse seiners from the Eastern Pacific in 1980. The two vessels were from Peru, with Peruvian skippers, engineers and crew. The vessels proved to be unsuccessful at catching tuna as the nets being used were too shallow. In 1986/87, one of these vessels sunk off Nauru in a storm. The second vessel was moved to the Philippines in 1987/88, where it was chartered to a local company and eventually sold. In 1998, the government established the Nauru Fisheries Corporation (NFC). NFC purchased two longline vessels, one (18.5 m) in 2000, and the other (12 m) in 2002. Both vessels have experienced extensive breakdowns that have restricted fishing activities. In addition, when the vessels were fishing, only low catch rates were achieved and the fishing operations have not been economically viable.
Source: PROCFish (2007)

The 2016 Nauru report to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (NFMRA, 2016) commented as follows about the country’s offshore fishing:

  • Nauru’s offshore fishery, as in previous years, is dominated by purse seiners from distant water fishing nations (DWFNs).
  • The primary target of the DWFN vessels are skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis) and yellowfin (Thunnus albacares), which are intended for foreign canneries.
  • Most of the vessels are in the 1001–1500 gross tons size and are licensed either under bilateral access agreements by Nauru, or under a preferential regional arrangement (i.e. FSM Arrangement) or the US Treaty.
  • One longline vessel was licensed for one trip in the Nauru EEZ in 2015.
  • Nauru did not have a commercial fishery of any kind under its flag or by charter arrangements active in the WCPFC convention area in 2015.


The nationality and gear type of the vessels licensed to fish in Nauru waters in 2015 are given in Table 6.



Table 6: Foreign-flagged offshore fishing vessels licensed to fish in Nauru waters in 2015

Flag

Gear

No. of vessels

0–500

GRT

501–1000

GRT

1001–1500

GRT

1500+ GRT
China (CN)PS12-543
Japan (JP)LL1-1--
Japan (JP)PS32--273
Philippines (PH)PS2----
Korea (KR)PS26-12104
Taiwan (TW)PS33-9182
UST (US)PS35--1718
Vanuatu (TV)PS1---1
Vanuatu (TW)PS3---3
New Zealand (NZ)PS2----
Vessels sponsored under the FSM arrangementPS76-84226
Total  223-3511860
Notes: Source NFMRA (2016); PS = purse seiner; LL = longliner



The Annual Report of the Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority (NFMRA 2015) provides information on coastal fisheries in Nauru (Box 3).



Box 3: Coastal fisheries in Nauru

Nauru’s artisanal fleet comprises small (less than 6 m) powered skiffs, canoes operated by local fishers. The powered boats are mostly used for trolling and often target pelagics. Other types of fishing include dropline fishing, gillnetting, cast-netting, angling, spearfishing, by freediving or with scuba, and reef gleaning targeting reef fish and invertebrates which are mainly for subsistence. Some commercial fishing activities are practised but mostly on a part-time scale, meaning that fish catches are sold only when there is surplus after meeting subsistence needs. Apart from trolling and deep bottom drop-lining, the coastal fishing activities are generally conducted on the reef flats and the reef slopes.


A report by FFA (2007) gives details of coastal fishing methods (Table 7).

Table 7: Coastal fishing methods in Nauru

Fishing areaFishing methodsComment
Reef flat, reef crest and surf zoneGleaning, seine and cast nets, spearing, traditional trapping, line fishing at high tide, for food and bait Relatively small area available overall (less than 300 ha). Some traditional association with adjacent communities in districts
Reef front and nearshore slope to 25-30 mSeining, bottom and water column hand-line fishing from canoes and skiffs, diving and spearing, with or without scuba100–200 ha. Very limited area under high and increasing pressure, with access from both shore-based and boat-based activities
Reef slope and deep water to 400 mDrop-line, other bottom fishing methods and mid-water hand-lining, from canoes, skiffs and larger outboard vessels in deeper waterRelatively limited area, requires more expensive gear for fishing in deep water
Nearshore pelagic waters within sight of island, and adjacent to anchored FADs and mooring buoysTrolling, pole and mini long-lining, drop-stone and similar methods for deeper pelagics; traditionally, netting for flying fish and baitfishLarge mooring buoys off Ewo Cantilevers have provided inshore trolling and line fishing; other offshore and inshore FAD deployment since early 1980s
Source: FFA (2007)
Main resources

In the offshore fisheries, the three main species captured are skipjack, yellowfin, and bigeye. In 2015, the catch was about 77 percent skipjack, 21 percent yellowfin and 2 percent bigeye (NFMRA, 2016).

In terms of the status of its fish resources, the above three species of tuna in Nauru mix freely with those of the neighboring countries in the western and central Pacific. Recent information from the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC, 2016) shows that for:

  • skipjack the stock is currently only moderately exploited and fishing mortality levels are sustainable;
  • bigeye recent analysis indicates that overfishing is occurring for the bigeye tuna stock and that to reduce fishing mortality to that at the maximum sustainable yield, a large reduction in fishing mortality is required;
  • yellowfin the current total biomass and spawning biomass are higher than at levels associated with maximum sustainable yields. Therefore, yellowfin tuna is not considered to be in an overfished state.


FFA (2007) summarizes the main coastal species by fishing area (Table 8).



Table 8: Main species captured by coastal fishing in Nauru

Fishing areaSpecies
Reef flat, reef crest and surf zone Molluscs, crustaceans, some beche-de-mer, eels, octopus and small fish, mullet, surgeonfish and scarids and other species, netted in surf zone; casting and bait fishing from reef edge
Reef front and nearshore slope to 25–30 mWide range of smaller demersal and epibenthic species such as scarids, acanthurids, carangids, shallow-water serranids, lutjanids and lethrinids and ranging reef-associated pelagics
Reef slope and deep water to 400 m;Deep-water snappers, lutjanids, carangids and some scombrids, deeper-water serranids, balistids, some sharks
Nearshore pelagic waters within sight of island, and adjacent to anchored FADs and mooring buoysRainbow runners, some tunas, wahoo, mid-water balistids, barracuda, some sharks
Source: FFA (2007)

PROCFish (2007) described the condition of coastal finfish in Nauru:

“Nauru has a very high population of surgeonfish and triggerfish, but alarmingly low populations of targeted and commercial species of groupers, snappers, emperors and scarids. The semi-pelagic species of trevallies, fusiliers, baitfishes and tunas appear to be in relatively good numbers, perhaps only sustainable for local needs. The relatively high abundance of surgeons and triggers correlates well with the high cover of hard substrate and abundant algae; moreover, such herbivorous fishes are common in an outer reef environment, the only habitat surveyed in Nauru. However, acanthurids and balistids have a high abundance in Nauru, especially when compared to other country average values, which could be related to current ciguatera events. Available stocks of these two fish families far exceed that of the other remaining 11 families. Nonetheless, small-size schooling species of mullets, snappers and goatfishes are still common immediately behind the breaker zone. Preliminary results suggest that the relatively low populations of commercially targeted groupers, snappers and emperors signal that stock sizes are currently at, or already exceed sustainable and optimum levels. Similarly, stock biomass of other less targeted edible species of parrotfish, now targeted by spear fishers (free diving and scuba), appear to be increasingly affected as well. Surgeons are the highest in abundance and therefore suitable candidates for targeting as edible species.”



SPC carried out a survey of the reef invertebrate resources of Nauru, and considered sea cucumbers, bivalves, crustaceans, gastropods, starfish and urchins (Harris et al., 2016). The conclusion of the survey was that coastal fisheries in Nauru have operated for many years with inadequate management. The results of the survey and previous surveys on Nauru provide evidence of significant over-exploitation of Nauru’s coastal invertebrate resources.
Management applied to main fisheries

In the early 2000s, a National Tuna Fishery Strategy was prepared, and in 2005, the Nauru National Tuna Management and Development Plan was prepared. Neither document was officially adopted (Gillett, 2009b). Although the strategy and plans cannot be relied on to provide accurate information on national management arrangements, they provide some insight. The plan has two major overall goals: (a) to promote the effective management and conservation of the tuna resources; and (b) to maximize the long-term economic and social benefits for the people of Nauru from the development of tuna resources.

In practical terms, Nauru’s management of its offshore tuna resources follows closely the subregional and regional management arrangements that Nauru has signed (T. Adams, personal communication, March 2017). The latest NFMRA Annual Report states: “Adoption of subregional, regional and international instruments into national laws is a key area to ensure Nauru is conforming to its rights and obligations.”

  • On the subregional level, Nauru cooperates with the other countries that are members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, which is described below.
  • On the regional level, Nauru is a member of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) that was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Nauru and the other 26 members of the commission enact tuna management measures at the annual WCPFC meeting. From the Nauru perspective, the most important recent measure is the Conservation and Management Measure for Bigeye, Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.


A crucial component of the management of Nauru’s offshore fisheries is the Parties to the Nauru Agreement and its Vessel Day Scheme. The early history of the PNA is given by Tarte (2002):

In February 1982, the Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Management of Fisheries of Common Interest was opened for signature. The Nauru Agreement had been negotiated by seven Pacific Island states – Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands. This group of countries (later joined by Tuvalu) is known collectively as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). The conclusion of the Nauru Agreement marked the beginning of a new era in Pacific Island cooperation in the management of the region’s tuna stocks. It was an important milestone in the exercise of coastal states’ sovereign rights over their 200-mile EEZs. The PNA group accounts for much of the tuna catch in the Pacific Island region. In 1999, it produced 98 percent of the tuna catch taken from the EEZs of Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) members; 70 percent came from three PNA members: PNG, FSM and Kiribati. The group also accounted for 94 percent of the access fees paid to the FFA Pacific Island states. By controlling access to these fishing grounds, the PNA group collectively wields enormous influence and power.

The most important fishery management tool of the PNA is the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) described in Box 4.

Box 4: PNA Vessel Day Scheme

In 2000, a study suggested that the PNA purse-seine management scheme that was then based on vessel numbers be replaced by a scheme based on purse-seine fishing days. The transition was actually made seven years later. In 2007, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement began implementing the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS), transitioning from permitting a total number of purse-seine vessels in the region (205) to permitting a total allowable effort (TAE) in number of purse-seine fishing days (44 703 days for 2012; 44 890 days for 2016). Given the volume, value and multi-jurisdictional nature of the fishery, it is arguably one of the most complex fishery management arrangements ever put in place. Its key features are as follows:

  • System of tradable fishing effort (days) allocated to the eight Parties
  • Limit on total effort (the TAE) ~ 45 000 days
  • TAE is allocated to Parties based on zonal biomass and historical effort as PAEs (Party Allowable Effort)
  • Fishing days are sold to fleets for fishing in each EEZ
  • There is a minimum benchmark price for VDS days sold to foreign vessels
  • Fishing days monitored by satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)
  • VMS monitoring supported by observers on board all vessels
  • Days are tradable between Parties
  • Scheme costs are financed by levies on vessels

Due to the complicated nature of the new VDS system and the various constraints of the government fisheries agencies of the region (e.g. under-funded, under-staffed), it was expected there would be problems in the introduction of the scheme. This is not to say that the VDS has not produced substantial benefits for PNA countries. The system is creating competition for a limited number of days, thereby increasing the value of each day. In practice, the value of a fishing day before the VDS was roughly USD 1 350, but it increased to about USD 5 000 in July 2011 and days were being sold in 2016 for over USD 12 000.

On a different and less tangible level, another benefit is that the VDS moves fisheries management in the region to a desirable rights-based system. That is, fishing rights (such as vessel days) can be defined, allocated and traded. Consistent with this transition to a rights-based approach, a VDS-style arrangement for management of the tropical longline fishery is being implemented by PNA.

Source: Havice (2013); Campling (2013); Gillett (2014); Clark and Clark (2014)

There is not much active management of the coastal fisheries in Nauru. Several authors have commented on this situation:

  • Aside from fisheries development efforts, there is little government intervention in the inshore fisheries. This is an important sector and like any other island in the Pacific, coastal fishery commodities often go a long way towards fulfilling the immediate cash needs of the largely subsistence communities in many island nations. Because of the declining state of resources coupled with the increasing overdependence of the population on reef and inshore species, there is an urgent need to strengthen management capabilities (PROCFish, 2007).
  • Coastal fisheries in Nauru have operated for many years with inadequate management. Accordingly, as a matter of priority and in the best interest of coastal communities, there is an urgency to develop a legal framework and introduce fisheries management initiatives (including community-based approaches) for the sustainable management of the fishery (Harris et al., 2016).


Recently, there has been some progress in the management of coastal fisheries in Nauru. NFMRA has been holding consultations to help communities design management plans for local fisheries and is currently developing a legal framework for Cabinet consideration. This framework could allow communities to take part in decisions about their own fisheries, or to take part in discussions with other communities to help decide how fisheries that cover more than one district should be managed. The last piece of the puzzle – the government advisory service on reef fishery resources – was reported to be beginning to take shape (Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources News, 2012).

Management objectives

As mentioned above, although Nauru’s National Tuna Fishery Strategy and National Tuna Management and Development Plan were never officially adopted (Gillett, 2009b), they provide some insight into the objectives of Nauru’s management of its tuna fisheries. The objectives in the draft plan are:

  • strengthening the exercise of sovereign rights by Nauru over the tuna resource;
  • increasing the economic gains received by Nauru from the exercise of its rights over the tuna resource;
  • ensuring effective participation by Nauru in regional tuna management activities;
  • minimizing any adverse impacts of tuna fishing and related activities on non-tuna species and the marine environment;
  • eliminating illegal fishing activity in the fisheries waters of Nauru;
  • protecting the interests of small-scale tuna fishers, noting their contribution to food security;
  • improving the nutritional standards of the Nauruan people through increased availability of fish, including tuna and bycatch species taken during tuna fishing, as a source of food in Nauru.


In terms of the objective of “increasing economic gains”, from a historical perspective, national offshore fishery management efforts have been focused on generating revenue for the Nauru Government through licensing foreign fishing vessels. These efforts have been quite successful: access fees represented 9 percent of government revenue/grants in financial year 2013 and 13.7 percent in FY 2014 (Gillett, 2016).

Management measures and institutional arrangements

The main management measure applied to the offshore fisheries is the PNA purse-seine vessel day scheme described above. Under this scheme, the PNA allocates Nauru a certain number of fishing days that can be sold to the highest bidder. The number of days are set considering historical fishing and conservation issues. As the number of days is set with a view to creating scarcity, the bidding process has tended to increase the value of a fishing day. This is demonstrated by the change in Nauru’s access fees over a six-year period:

  • For FY 2007/2008, access fees were USD 5 147 899
  • For FY 2013/2014, access fees were USD 15 852 459


With respect to coastal and inshore fisheries management, there is little government intervention in inshore fisheries (CoFish, 2005). This situation is summarized in Box 5 below. Because of the declining state of resources, coupled with the increasing overdependence of the population on reef and inshore species, there is an urgent need to strengthen management capabilities. FFA (2007) states that good progress has been made in community consultation and development of draft community fisheries legislation as the basis for community-based management for coastal fisheries.

Box 5: Lack of inshore fisheries management

At the moment there is no form of fisheries management, although at the district level, people have started to adopt mechanisms that could address the issues, and there are continuing attempts to put in place marine-protected areas. Nauru’s open-access tenureship means that everyone is free to fish anywhere on the island. This is very different from other Pacific Island countries. Because of the lack of traditional authority, the protocols seen in other countries are not practised in Nauru. There are no customary regulations, district laws or unwritten understandings on fishing activities, such as size limits, quotas, gear restrictions, use of scuba, or imports.
Source: Vunisea (2007)

The NFMRA Corporate Plan 2009–2012 provides an indication of the coastal fisheries management measures that are likely to be used in the future:

Marine-protected areas (MPAs) are not a panacea for all that ails fisheries, but they are a useful tool in the rehabilitation of heavily-impacted reef fisheries. Nauru is the only Pacific Island country with no MPAs, and this Corporate Plan envisages the effective promotion of protected areas as one of NFMRA’s strategies. Another rapid-acting (and also relatively easily enforced) reef fishery rehabilitation measure might possibly be to ban scuba spearfishing.

NFMRA provides the institutional framework for fisheries management in Nauru. It is a statutory corporation under the Fisheries Act 1997 that has responsibility for overseeing, managing and developing the country’s natural marine resources and environment. NFMRA’s role is covered in more detail below.
Fishing communities

The concept of “fisher communities” has limited applicability to Nauru. CoFish (2005) indicates that 97 percent of sampled households on Nauru were found to be engaged in fishing activities. In some respects, all of Nauru could be considered as one fishing community.
Inland sub-sector

According to NFMRA (2005), there are four depressions on the Nauru plateau, the most significant one forming Buada Lagoon, which is 30 000 m². The other waterbodies, known as ponds, are on the fringing coast or just a few metres from the base of the escarpment. They range from about 40 m² to about 10 000 m², either manufactured or naturally occurring. Anabar pond, at 10 000 m², is the most significant. The ponds have become infested with tilapia, which is not popular as a food item. In many studies of the fisheries of Nauru, any harvesting from these brackish waterbodies is considered to be aquaculture.
Aquaculture sub-sector

NFMRA (2005) discusses the fall and rise of aquaculture in Nauru. Traditionally, juvenile milkfish were collected on the intertidal reef and reared in brackish ponds. The most important areas for farming were Buada Lagoon and, to a lesser extent, the Anabar pond. Farming was divided among families, with walls and fences, and the people maintained an intricate social fabric intertwined with milkfish culture. The Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) was introduced around 1961 with assistance from the South Pacific Commission, but it was not accepted as a food source mainly because of its small size and poor flavour. Tilapia eventually infested all the milkfish ponds and competed for food. The result was that milkfish harvested from infested ponds took longer to grow to an edible size and this caused many farmers to abandon their traditional practice of raising milkfish. In 2000, the Buada Lagoon Owners’ Association introduced 10 000 milkfish fry from Kiribati into Buada Lagoon, reaping 5 000 adult fish some months later.

According to an update from a resident fisheries adviser (B. Yeeting, personal communication, January 2016):

  • there are currently 35 pond owners registered with NFMRA. These are family-owned backyard milkfish ponds and some are old swimming pools, in addition to the one-hectare Buada Lagoon;
  • over the last few years, milkfish farming has not been active and only a couple of family-owned ponds are known to still have milkfish from the last fry shipment from Tarawa. These remaining milkfish were harvested during pond preparation work and totalled about 150 kg;
  • NFMRA is reviving milkfish farming and has almost completed an aquaculture holding facility which will be used to receive, hold and condition milkfish fry from Tarawa on a regular basis before distributing/selling to local pond owners to stock their ponds. There are two extension officers helping people to prepare their ponds and they will provide assistance and advice to pond owners on stocking, feeding and management of the ponds;


currently there is no aquaculture production in Nauru.
Recreational sub-sector

Chapman (2004) reported that around 50 vessels were capable of game fishing or sport fishing on the island. However, since that time Nauru’s economy has suffered shocks, and recreational activities have been curtailed. Nevertheless, many Nauruans consider subsistence fishing as a pleasurable social activity that has value beyond just food collection.

According to an update from a resident fisheries adviser B. Yeeting (personal communication, January 2016):

  • sport diving tours are available on request through the dive instructor at NFMRA for a fee of AUD 150 per diver and AUD 70 for dive gear;
  • a charter sport fishing operation is available for hire through a private company at a cost of AUD 400 per day.
Post-harvest sector

Fish utilization

The catch from the various foreign-flagged purse-seine fleets operating in Nauru is almost all for canning, but there is considerable variation in mechanisms for getting the catch to the canneries:

  • Japanese purse seiners return to Japanese ports to offload the catch.
  • US purse seiners offload their catch at the canneries in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and do not transship often.
  • Taiwanese, Korean, and Chinese seiners (or vessels controlled by interests from these countries) usually transship their catch. Because of the lack of a suitable harbour in Nauru, and a ban on transshipping in the zones of Pacific Island countries, this transshipment usually occurs in a port in a neighboring country – often Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia or Majuro in the Marshall Islands.


The production from coastal and inshore fisheries and aquaculture is almost entirely for domestic consumption.

Fish markets

CoFish (2005) states that local marketing of finfish is rare and marketing of invertebrates is non-existent (apart from lobsters). The reliance on marine products for basic food needs, and the lack of transportation and outlets for marketing contribute to this. Almost all finfish catch is consumed or given to relatives, and only a small proportion of catches is reported to be sold. Most of the sales are from informal roadside markets. The Nauru Fisheries Corporation (the commercial arm of NFMRA) has operated a fish market, but it is currently closed.

Resident fisheries adviser, B. Yeeting (personal communication, January 2016) states: “There is no formal processing. There is one fish shop, which has a couple of chest freezers where they store their fish. This is more or less the same set-up as the few fishers who sell from their houses (i.e. have a chest freezer that they use to store fish and sell from).”
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector

A recent study by SPC (Gillett, 2016) attempted to quantify the fishery-related benefits received by Nauru and other Pacific Island countries. The study gave the available information on the contribution of fishing to GDP, exports, government revenue, employment and nutrition. Unless otherwise noted, the information in this section is from that study. Role of fisheries in the national economy

The official GDP of Nauru and the fisheries contribution are estimated by Nauru’s Department of Finance and Economic Planning. For FY 2014, the fishing contribution was estimated to be USD 2.6 million, or 2.3 percent of GDP.

In 2015, in an SPC study (Gillett, 2016), the fishing contribution to GDP was re-estimated using a standard methodology for the fishing sector. For calendar year 2014, it was estimated that the fishing contribution was USD 1.5 million, or 1.3 percent of GDP.

Given the lack of details available on the official methodology, it is difficult to speculate on why the difference is so great. However, if the official estimate used the production approach to estimate the fisheries sector contribution, the volume of production from coastal fisheries in the two estimates must be very different.
Trade

Currently there are no formal exports of fishery products from Nauru. The last formal export shipment of fresh tuna from the domestic longline operation was in 2001, and only seven shipments were ever made. Although the fish was of good quality and received a good price at auction in Japan, the local longline operation was unprofitable for various reasons.

Informal exports of fish are made by passengers travelling on the regular commercial flights. These shipments are often for family and friends in Australia, Fiji and the Marshall Islands. Although the Nauru Quarantine Office issues certificates for fish and other marine products that are being taken out to make sure that the products are in good condition, those certificates do not include the weights of the shipped products.
Food security

An SPC/CoFish study in Nauru in October and November 2005 examined the consumption of fishery products. Per capita consumption of fresh fish was recorded at 46.5 kg/year. Finfish was consumed an average of 3.8 times a week, while invertebrate consumption was much lower with a frequency of about twice a month. Canned fish was also frequently consumed, at an average of 2.4 times a week for most households, with annual per capita consumption reaching about 16 kg, which is considerable though only about one-third of finfish consumption. For many families, canned fish is an affordable substitute that can be cooked in a soup and in many other ways to feed large families. The low consumption of invertebrates may be due to their overharvest. There is very high reliance on fresh fish, with many households interviewed consuming their own catches or being given fish by relatives and neighbors. The results of the CoFish survey of fish consumption are summarized in Table 9.



Table 9: Consumption of fishery products on Nauru according to CoFish survey of households

Aspect (units) Measure
Quantity fresh fish consumed (kg/capita/year) 46.45 (±2.74)
Frequency fresh fish consumed (time/week) 3.79 (±0.14)
Quantity fresh invertebrate consumed (kg/capita/year) 1.63 (±0.19)
Frequency fresh invertebrate consumed (time/week) 0.53 (±0.04)
Quantity canned fish consumed (kg/capita/year) 15.86 (±1.12)
Frequency canned fish consumed (time/week) 2.42 (±0.12)
Source: CoFish (2005); 245 households were surveyed

Bell et al. (2009) used information from household income and expenditure surveys (HIES) conducted between 2001 and 2006 to estimate patterns of fish consumption in Pacific Island countries. The HIES were designed to enumerate consumption based on both subsistence and cash acquisitions. For the whole of Nauru, the annual per capita fish consumption (whole weight equivalent) was 55.8 kg, of which 96 percent was fresh fish.

FAO data indicates that annual per capita consumption of fish and fishery products was 52.3 kg in 2013.
Employment

CoFish (2005) gives the results of fisheries-focused socio-economic surveys carried out in 11 of the 14 districts in Nauru during October and November 2005:

  • The total resident population at the time was estimated at 10 131 people and 1 230 households.
  • A total of 245 households were surveyed for income and expenditure, with 97 percent of these found to be engaged in fishing activities.
  • A total of 405 finfish fishers (357 men and 48 women) and 283 invertebrate fishers (149 women and 134 men) were interviewed. Survey results indicated an average of 3.7 fishers per household; when this is extrapolated, the total number of fishers in Nauru is 4 513, which includes 2 947 men and 1 566 women.
  • The main source of income is from government employment (86 percent), with some people employed in the private sector.
  • Fisheries do not play a significant role in household income. For 5 percent, it is their first income and for 17 percent their second income.


The results of the Nauru 2011 census (Anon. 2012) provide some insight into participation in fishing:

  • The main source of household income for 85 percent of all households was wages and/or salary; 7 percent of households’ main income came from own business activities, 4 percent relied mainly on rent of land and 2 percent on the sale of fish, crops or handicrafts.
  • Just over half (51 percent) of all households in Nauru were engaged in fishing activities.
  • Participation in fishing activities varied greatly between Nauru’s 14 districts. Only 21 percent of the households in Nibok District were involved with fishing compared to 96 percent of the households in Ijuw District.
  • Aquaculture was undertaken by only 2 percent of all households in Nauru, and this was entirely for subsistence. It was mainly undertaken by households in Ewa District.


The results of the 2012/2013 HIES (Bureau of Statistics, 2014) provide some information on participation in fishing:

  • The total resident Nauru population in 2012 was estimated to be 10 293 in 1 705 private households over the 14 districts of Nauru.
  • It was estimated that 26 percent of households were engaged in fishing.
  • About 8.94 percent of the Nauruan labour force of 3 952 were involved in one form of fishing or another. This relates to about 353 fishers.
  • With regards to full-time fishers, if “full-time” means those who have fishing as their main activity, only 1.26 percent of the Nauruan labour force had fishing as the main activity. This equates to about 50 fishers.
  • With regards to part-time commercial fishers, if this is taken as those who have fishing as a secondary activity, about 7.7 percent of the Nauruan labour force were in this category, i.e. about 300 fishers.
  • With regards to subsistence fishers, in Nauru all fishers, whether full-time or part-time, also fish for their subsistence (i.e. 353 fishers).


The difference in the results of the 2011 census and 2012/2013 HIES seem quite large. The census indicates that just over half (51 percent) of all households in Nauru were engaged in fishing activities. The HIES estimated that 26 percent of households were engaged in fishing.
Rural development

The concept of “rural development” is hardly applicable to Nauru, where there is little distance between the most and least urban areas of the island.
Trends, issues and development

Constraints and opportunities

Major constraints for the fisheries sector include the following:

  • Many of the inshore fishery resources are fully or overexploited, creating problems for an expanding population that is reliant on marine resources for subsistence.
  • Introduction of inshore fisheries management is difficult at a time when interest in harvesting inshore fisheries resources has increased considerably.
  • There is considerable difficulty in promoting small-scale fishers’ access to the large tuna resources.
  • Lack of infrastructure (and the difficulties/expense of establishing that infrastructure) places a major limitation on development of the domestic tuna industry.
  • NFMRA has considerable difficulty in carrying out its fisheries development functions in a time of financial stringency.
  • Several reviews (e.g. FFA, 2007) state that development of small-scale offshore fisheries targeting pelagic species is one of the few avenues for transferring effort from inshore fisheries, but this requires appropriate boats, equipment, gear and fuel, and increased investment in communications and other equipment for safe operation away from the island.


One of the major opportunities in the fisheries sector relates to regional cooperation – that is, solidarity with neighboring Pacific Island countries to take advantage of the fact that these countries control access to most of the tuna resources in the central and western Pacific Ocean. Possible outcomes of using this strategy include: (a) increasing access fees for foreign fishing vessels; (b) leveraging development of the domestic tuna industry; and (c) promoting employment on purse-seine vessels.

Other opportunities include:

  • using the relatively frequent airline flights to and from Nauru to facilitate fishery trade;
  • taking advantage of the experience of neighbouring countries in community-based fisheries management;
  • using the lagoons and ponds for fish culture.


A 2008 FFA study of fishery development aspirations (Gillett, 2008) summarized the views of Nauru officials:

Fisheries officials aspire to have expanded harbour facilities. A further aspiration is to use these facilities to catalyze the establishment of a locally based longline fishery and an associated fresh tuna export packing facility. Involvement with purse seining is a possibility. Another view (from a former fisheries official) stresses the importance of what he considers as the sole opportunity for the future – artisanal longlining.
Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies

As stated in NFMRA’s 2014/2015 Annual Report, its goal is to enhance development and sustainable management of marine and fisheries resources to provide sustainable economic returns. To do this, there are eight strategies, each with milestones:

1. Strengthen institutional capacity
  • Corporate Plan 2009–2012 implemented
  • Fisheries Act updated
  • NFMRA effectively providing leadership, guidance and assistance on developing and managing fisheries resources
  • NFMRA infrastructure improved and consolidated in one site


2. Maximize sustainable economic returns
  • Foreign licensing revenue per fishing day increased in real terms by 2012 from 2008 levels
  • Maximized sustainable economic yield from marine and fisheries resources


3. Promote private-sector led development of commercial fisheries
  • Potential niche, small-scale, high-quality fishing and processing export enterprises identified
  • Recreational use of marine resources (e.g. game fishing) investigated
  • Business profiles for establishing commercial fishing enterprises developed, and potential joint-venture partnerships with investors explored


4. Promote development of aquaculture
  • Current 5-year national aquaculture plan reviewed and implemented
  • Legislative and regulatory framework for aquaculture development scoped and developed
  • Legislative and regulatory framework for aquaculture development adopted and implemented


5. Sustainably utilize marine resources to increase food security and alternative livelihoods
  • Feasibility study conducted on new fisheries and fishing techniques, including traditional fishing methods
  • Business profiles/plans for development of new fisheries and fishing techniques completed and implementation started


6. Ensure sustainable practices are implemented to safeguard marine biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Design, through participatory consultation, development of marine-protected-area (MPA) networks
  • Capacity development and training on use of ecosystem approach and other conservation planning tools conducted
  • Develop legal and regulatory framework to support MPA
  • Implement ecosystem approach to coastal fisheries management


7. Minimize illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing
  • Implement national plan of action for combating IUU fishing
  • Implement national observer programme
  • Substantial reduction in IUU
  • At least 20 observer trips conducted per annum


8. Develop sound scientific information on coastal marine resources
  • Research capacity of NFMRA strengthened through partnerships with regional and international research institutions
  • Research plans for resources assessment capacity developed and training conducted for NFMRA


Research, education and trainingResearch

NFMRA’s 2014/2015 Annual Report includes a section on “Research and Statistics,” which states: “The Authority’s principal concern is the ongoing advancement of personnel skills to the necessary levels through participation in regional capacity building workshops and training. Like the rest of the region, the Authority has embraced the regional database systems (i.e. TUFMAN and TUFART), which were developed by SPC’s Oceanic Fisheries Programme. Relentless refining of these systems to meet the Authority’s requirements is constant.”

Currently, NFMRA has limited capacity to carry out substantial fisheries research. Consequently, most research projects have involved the government cooperating with outside researchers and agencies.

Past research topics (and agencies) include:

  • tuna stock assessment (SPC)
  • baseline information on the status of reef fisheries (SPC)
  • tilapia eradication (FAO)
  • underwater bathymetry (SOPAC – now SPC’s Geoscience Division)
  • milkfish growth trials (Taiwan PC)
  • ciguatera fish poisoning (University of the South Pacific)
Education and training

Education related to fisheries in Nauru is undertaken in a variety of institutions:

  • Academic training in biological, economic and other aspects of fisheries is provided at the University of the South Pacific, Suva.
  • Training courses, workshops and attachments are frequently organized by regional organizations: SPC in New Caledonia and FFA in the Solomon Islands. Subject matter has included such diverse topics as fish-quality grading, stock assessment, fisheries surveillance and on-vessel observing.
  • Courses and workshops are also given by NGOs and bilateral donors.


Foreign aid

Historically, Nauru has not sought direct fisheries development assistance from bilateral or multilateral donors, although some assistance of this type has been channelled through FFA, SPC and other regional organizations of which Nauru is a member. However, the economic downturn that began in the early 2000s has resulted in Nauru actively seeking development assistance, including for the fisheries sector.

At present, the main donor activity in the fisheries sector is Australia’s support for the Fisheries Management Institutional Strengthening Project. For several years, the project has been assisting NFMRA to improve its management of the industrial tuna fishery, in particular to consolidate the crucial foreign exchange revenue that foreign fishing on Nauru’s tuna resources generates for the national economy.

SPC and FFA provide regular fisheries-related assistance to Nauru, including for inshore and offshore fisheries resource assessment, aquaculture, and monitoring, control and surveillance.
Institutional framework

In 1997, the Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority Act established NFMRA as an entity with the powers and functions to regulate and develop activities relating to Nauru’s fisheries and marine resources. It is responsible for the management of offshore fisheries, coastal fisheries and aquaculture, and also owns the Nauru Fisheries Corporation, which acts as the Authority’s commercial arm (FFA, 2007).

The 2014/2015 NFMRA Annual Report, presents the objectives and functions of the NFMRA:

Objectives:

  • To manage, develop, conserve and protect the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru in such a way as to conserve and replenish them as a sustainable asset for future generations.
  • To promote the sustainable utilization of the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru to achieve economic growth, improved social standards, improved nutritional standards, human resource development, increased employment and a sound ecological balance.
  • To pursue effective strategies for managing the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru so as to maintain the integrity of marine ecosystems, to preserve biodiversity, to avoid adverse impacts on the marine environment and to minimize the risk of long-term or irreversible effects of resource extraction operations.
  • To enhance the administrative, legal, surveillance and enforcement capacities of the Republic for the management, development, conservation and protection of the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru.


Functions:

The NFMRA is required by the Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority Act 1997 to:

  • carry out and give effect to any policy directions of the Minister and the Cabinet on the utilization, management, development, conservation and protection of fisheries and marine resources;
  • make recommendations and give advice to the Minister on matters connected with the Authority’s objectives;
  • administer and enforce the NFMRA 1997 and any other law relating to fisheries or marine resources, to the extent required or permitted by that law and any related policy approved by Cabinet;
  • advise and make recommendations to the Minister on the operation of the NFMRA Act 1997 and any other law which relates to its objectives and on changes and amendments the Authority considers necessary or desirable to be made to any law in order to promote and further the Authority’s objectives;
  • to the greatest extent possible, consistent with the performance of the Authority’s functions under the NFMRA Act 1997 or any other law, consult and cooperate with other government departments, branches and agencies, with non-governmental bodies and with international, regional and subregional organizations on matters connected with the Authority’s objectives;
  • secure, authorize and provide attendance and representation of the Republic at international, regional and sub-regional meetings, conferences, workshops and similar gatherings concerned with the development, management, conservation and protection of fisheries or marine resources;
  • to the extent provided by the NFMRA Act 1997 and any other law, and with the approval of the Minister, represent the Republic in the conduct of negotiations in respect of any international convention, treaty, agreement or similar arrangement, or any agreement with a foreign state or body representative of the interests of a foreign state, relating to fisheries or marine resources;
  • establish, initiate, maintain and engage in such other activities pertaining to the Authority’s objectives as are determined by the Board from time to time, in accordance with any policy directions of the Minister; and
  • carry out such other functions as are necessary to achieve the Authority’s objectives, or as given to it under the NFMRA Act 1997 or any other law.


In terms of day-to-day activities, the NFMRA provides various goods and services to the local communities. According to the latest NFMRA Annual Report, these include 1) ice sales; 2) outboard motor, boat and trailer repair and maintenance; 3) rigging, deployment, repair and maintenance of anchored FADs; 4) search and rescue operations; 5) technical assistance to aquaculturists, either directly or through the Nauru Aquaculture Association; 6) technical assistance to district communities on the community-based ecosystem approach to fisheries management; 7) technical assistance to artisanal fishers, either directly or through the Nauru Fishers Association; and 8) collection of data from communities, fishers and aquaculturists to keep abreast of the situation on the ground and to intervene when required.

NFMRA is governed by the NFMRA Board of Directors, who are responsible to the Minister of Fisheries. Under the board is a Chief Executive Officer who oversees the work of the three functional units of NFMRA: Oceanic, Coastal, and Support. In 2015/2015, NFMRA had 44 staff: the CEO, 5 oceanic staff, 25 coastal staff, and 13 support staff (plus 19 vacant positions).

Non-government agencies involved in Nauru fisheries include the Nauru Fishers Association, the Nauru Aquaculture Association (established to assist fish farmers on an individual basis), and the Buada Land Owners’ Association (supports communal aquaculture efforts).

Important internet links related to fisheries in Nauru include:



The major regional institutions involved in fisheries are the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), located in Honiara, and the Pacific Community (SPC) in Noumea. Other players are the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Office in Majuro, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) in Suva, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, and the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva. The characteristics of these institutions are given in Table 10.

Table 10: Pacific Island regional organizations involved in fisheries

  FFA SPC Other regional organizations with fishery involvement
Main area of emphasis Providing management advice on tuna fisheries and increasing benefits to Pacific Island countries from tuna fishing activities. Most aspects of coastal fisheries and scientific research on tuna. Fisheries are only one aspect of SPC’s work programme, which also covers such issues as health, demography and agriculture.

PNA – a subregional grouping of countries where most purse seining occurs;

SPREP – environmental aspects of fisheries;

USP – School of Marine Studies (SMS), involved in a wide range of training;

PIFS – major political initiatives, some natural resource economics; and leads trade negotiations with EU, which have a major fisheries component.

Inter-regional relationships

The FFA/SPC relationship has had ups/downs over the years. It has been most difficult in early 1990s and tremendous improvement in mid/late 1990s.

An annual colloquium has helped the relationship. Staff who have moved between the two organizations have made a noticeable improvement in understanding.

Much of the success/benefits achieved by FFA/SPC cooperation depends on the personalities of FFA’s Director/Deputy and SPC’s Director of the Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems.

At least in theory, all regional organizations come under the umbrella of PIFS. Their activities are coordinated to some degree by the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) which has a Marine Sector Working Group that meets at least once per year, but is limited by lack of resources for follow-up.

FFA originally provided secretariat services to the PNA, but the PNA broke away from FFA in 2010. Currently, there are some sensitivities in the relationship, but it appears to be improving.

Main strengths Direct contact with its governing body many times per year results in a high degree of accountability. Mandate of tight focus on tuna eliminates considerable dissipation of effort. Noumea being a pleasant place to work, there is considerable staff continuity. The Oceanic Fisheries Programme often sets the standard for tuna research in the world. Documentation of work is very good.

Because PIFS is under the national leaders, it is considered the premier regional organization.

PNA has achieved considerable success and credibility in such areas as raising access fees, 100 percent observer coverage, eco-certification, high seas closures, and controls on FADs.

USP is centrally located in the region and its SMS has substantial infrastructure.

SPREP has close ties to NGOs active in the marine sector.

Membership Australia and New Zealand, plus Cook Is., FSM, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Is., Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Is., Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu Includes the major metropolitan countries, all Pacific Island countries, and the French/UK/US territories; the most inclusive of any regional organization.

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

USP: Cook Is., Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Is, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Is., Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

SPREP: 21 Pacific Island countries and territories, plus Australia, France, New Zealand and USA.

PIFS: same as FFA

Source: Adapted from Gillett (2014)

The Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean entered into force in June 2004 and established the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Nauru is a member of the commission, along with 26 other countries. The WCPFC has its headquarters in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, and has held 13 annual meetings to date.

Legal framework

The most important laws relating to fisheries in Nauru are the Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority Act 1997 and the Fisheries Act 1997.

The NFMRA Act describes the Authority’s objects and functions:

  • Objects of NFMRA


  • to manage, develop, conserve and protect the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru in such a way as to conserve and replenish them as a sustainable asset for future generations;
  • to promote the sustainable utilization of the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru to achieve economic growth, improved social standards, improved nutritional standards, human resource development, increased employment and a sound ecological balance;
  • to pursue effective strategies for managing the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru so as to maintain the integrity of marine ecosystems, to preserve biodiversity, to avoid adverse impacts on the marine environment, and to minimize the risk of long-term or irreversible effects of resource extraction operations; and
  • to enhance the administrative, legal, surveillance and enforcement capacities of the Republic for the management, development, conservation and protection of the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru, in accordance with any law relating to fisheries or marine resources.


  • Functions of NFMRA


  • to carry out and give effect to any policy directions of the Minister and the Cabinet on the utilization, management, development, conservation and protection of fisheries and marine resources;
  • to make recommendations and give advice to the Minister on matters connected with its objects;
  • to administer and enforce this Act and any other law relating to fisheries or marine resources, to the extent required or permitted by that law, and any related policy approved by the Cabinet; and
  • to advise and make recommendations to the Minister on the operation of the Act and of any other law which relates to its objects, and on needed changes and amendments.


The NFMRA Act also includes provisions for a board of directors, funds and powers of the Authority, limitations on its powers, liability of directors, and exercise of the powers of the board.

The Fisheries Act 1997 is concerned with the management, development, protection and conservation of the fisheries and living marine resources of Nauru. The act has provisions to:

  • exercise the sovereign rights of the Republic to explore, exploit, conserve and manage those resources within the fisheries waters of Nauru in accordance with the relevant rules of international law;
  • utilise, manage, develop, protect and conserve those resources in such a way as to conserve and replenish them as a sustainable asset for future generations, and to achieve economic growth, improved social standards, improved nutritional standards, human resource development, increased employment and a sound ecological balance;
  • pursue effective strategies for managing the fisheries and marine resources of Nauru, including the registration of fishing boats and the licensing of fishing and fishing activities; and
  • repeal the Marine Resources Act 1978.


Other laws and regulations important to Nauru fisheries are:

  • NFMRA Amendment Act 2004 – transfers the receipt of NFMRA revenue from NFMRA to the Treasury.
  • Fisheries Regulations 1998 – describe requirements for vessel registration and licensing, and specific measures for protection of certain resources.
  • Nauru Fisheries (PNA Third Implementing Arrangement) Regulations 2009 – give legal expression in Nauru waters to the Third Implementing Arrangement of the Nauru Agreement.
  • Sea Boundaries Act 1997 – sets out the scope of Nauru's marine jurisdiction.
  • Sea Boundaries Proclamation 1997 – declares the coordinates of the Nauru EEZ.


According to a Nauru fisheries advisor (B. Yeeting, personal communication, March 2017), Nauru is in the process of reviewing the Nauru Fisheries Act, with the oceanic component of the review being done by FFA and the coastal and aquaculture component being undertaken by an independent legal consulting firm.Regional and international legal framework

Annexes

Map courtesy of SPC
References

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Campling, L. 2013. FFA Fisheries Trade News. Vol. 6: Issue 2, March–April 2013. Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara, Solomon Islands. .
Chapman, L. 2004. Nearshore domestic fisheries development in Pacific Island countries and territories. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia.
Clark, L. & Clark, S. 2014. The PNA Vessel Day Scheme. A presentation to the ANU Pacific Update 2014. Canberra, 16–17 June, 2014. .
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Gillett, R. 2016. Fisheries in the economies of Pacific Island countries and territories. Pacific Community, Forum Fisheries Agency and Australian Aid. (ISBN 978-982-00-1009-3) (also available at (http://www.spc.int/fame/en/component/content/article/237-benefish-study-2016).
Gillett R. & Lightfoot, C. 2001. The contribution of fisheries to the economies of Pacific Island countries. Pacific Studies Series. Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Forum Fisheries Agency and Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Manila. .
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NFMRA. 2016. Nauru Annual Report to the Commission, Part One. Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority. Twelfth Regular Session of the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. .
Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources News. 2012. (http://nfmra.blogspot.com. au/2012/06/fishing-it-up.html). (also available as: Fishing it up: The state of Nauru reef fisheries. SPC Fisheries Newsletter #138, May–August 2012. Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia.
Preston, G. 2000. Managing the ocean. Report prepared for the World Bank. Washington, D.C.
PROCFish. 2007. Nauru Country Report: Profile and results from in-country survey work (October and November 2005). Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia. .
SNA. 2009. System of National Accounts 2008. Commission of the European Union, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations Statistics Division and the World Bank.
Tarte, S. 2002. The Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Management of Fisheries of Common Interest – A review of the agreement and an analysis of its future directions. Consultancy report prepared for the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement.
Vunisea, A. 2007. Fishing to sustain livelihoods in Nauru. SPC Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin #16, March 2007. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia. .
WCPFC. 2016. Report of the 12th Regular Session of the Scientific Committee. Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Pohnpei. .

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