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National Mgmt framework. Distant Water Fleet. Access. Regional Mgmt framework. Licensing agreement. FFA (Retains administrative fees - $0.5 million). US State Department. FSM License. Capital. Ownership. Loins. $18million. PNG Gov’t. Vessel Owners. Trading Co. SSTC Plant.

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National Mgmt framework





Regional Mgmt framework

Licensing agreement


(Retains administrative fees - $0.5 million)

US State Department

FSM License













US Market


$2.5 million + 15% of remaining balance

85% of remaining balance based on fishing effort

US Industry

FFA member countries

Major fishing PIPs

Accessing Domestic Development: Distant Water Fishing for Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific OceanElizabeth Havice - PhD Candidate - University of


The tuna industry in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), valued at US$ 3 billion, accounts for more than half of global tuna trade. Although the tuna that fuel the industry are harvested in the WCPO, the sector can hardly be described as one endogenous to the small islands states of the Pacific. Rather, since the countries of the region are among the poorest in the world, they are often excluded from the multiple scales of the capital intensive, high risk tuna harvest and production process. Thus, although the WCPO is where tuna trade begins, tuna production is facilitated by international trade agreements with foreign governments, fishing is conducted by foreign fleets, processing plants are situated in low cost production sites around the globe, and canned and fresh tuna are consumed in major markets in the global north. Where the Pacific does have direct influence over the tuna trade is in regional and national management efforts, whose terms are often borne out in access agreements with distant water fleets seeking to fish WCPO waters. By investigating the nature and conditions of foreign access to the world’s most valuable tuna fishery, this paper offers an analysis of the economic and environmental opportunities and constraints that shape the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) tuna industry and tuna related development opportunities in Pacific island countries (PICs).

Working from the starting point that resource scarcity contributes not only to urgency in management systems, but also acts as leverage for national managers seeking to enhance economic and environmental gains, this poster gives an overview of how access to tuna resources in the purse seine sector is secured and how it plays a key role in guiding the nature of the tuna exploitation. It uses access as to demonstrate how the transnational nature of both the tuna industry and the resource itself create real challenges for resource governance and has the capacity to splinter, or unite, Pacific island counties’ regional management and development efforts.

1. Intergovernmental Management Efforts

several management bodies over see the WCPO’s purse seine industry, each of which emerges from regional political efforts and seeks to balance environmental and developmental needs of coastal states and (often foreign) fishing entities.

Figure 5: FFA member country EEZs

2. Intergovernmental Access Agreements

  • The key elements of access engage in various forums to create the environmental and economic frameworks for resource exploitation

  • Once these frameworks are in place, the various types of access agreements demonstrate the ways tuna harvest takes place, & the economic and environmental returns to PICs

  • In natural resource industries, environmental and development objectives are inherently linked, and thus, must be developed and managed together.

  • Access agreements create opportunities for cooperation on environmental and developmental objectives, but they can also act as the basis for conflict that can splinter actors and cooperative efforts.

Under the regulations of management arrangements, some coastal states seek to achieve their development goals by negotiating access agreements with distant water fishing nation governments. Such is the case with the US Multilateral Treaty in the WCPO.

Figure 1: Philippine Purse Seine Transshipping in Papua New Guinea

  • To understand the way that access links environmental management objectives and development efforts in the tuna sector, this poster gives an overview of three ways that ‘elements of access’ come together to show how tuna production happens:

  • regional and intergovernmental regulatory agreements

  • intergovernmental access agreements, and

  • state-corporate access agreements

  • This analysis highlights the key actors that come together to manage and harvest tuna in the WCPO. This overview also takes the first steps in drawing outward links from the harvest sector, into the processing sector, where Pacific Island Countries hope to engage to augment their development returns.

Figure 3: The Structure of the US Multilateral Treaty

3. State-Corporate Access Agreements

Governments andcorporations also negotiate and implement access agreements under the terms of regional and national environmental and management objectives. South Seas Tuna Corporation in Papua New Guinea is a case of how PICs use their fish as leverage for augmenting domestic development.

Figure 1 identifies the key elements and actors that lay the framework for access to tuna harvest. The rest of the poster explores the relations between and among these elements.

Coastal State

Figure 2: The Elements of Access

Figure 4: Access as the basis for SSTC processing plan

Figure 6: Purse Seine Net Aboard a US Vessel