Update on the Common Oceans (ABNJ) Tuna Project’s Shark and Bycatch Components, 2018-2019

Clarke S, Smith N (2019) Update on the Common Oceans (ABNJ) Tuna Project’s Shark and Bycatch Components, 2018-2019. In: WCPFC Scientific Committee 15th Regular Session. WCPFC-SC15-2019/RP-ABNJ-01, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

The WCPFC, along with the four other tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (t-RFMOs), has been a partner in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – also referred to as Common Oceans – Tuna Project (www.commonoceans.org). The objective of this project has been to achieve efficient and sustainable management of fisheries resources and biodiversity conservation in marine areas that do not fall under the responsibility of any one country. Within this set of activities WCPFC committed to leading three components: • Shark Data Improvement and Harmonization • Shark Assessment and Management • Bycatch Information and Management The first two components involved working in partnership with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to improve shark monitoring and management across the Pacific. The third component was global in scope and focused on developing a database of bycatch mitigation and management information and conducting workshops to analyse mitigation data. WCPFC’s tasks commenced when an Execution Agreement between the implementing agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the WCPFC was signed on 25 October 2014. A Memorandum of Understanding between WCPFC and the Pacific Community (SPC) for activities under the ABNJ Tuna Project was signed on 20 January 2015 and was updated in June 2017, February 2018 and March 2019. A Technical Coordinator-Sharks and Bycatch (TCSB), Dr. Shelley Clarke, was hired in June 2014 and was based at the WCPFC Secretariat in Pohnpei, Micronesia until December 2017. At that time, based on a recommendation from the Common Oceans (ABNJ) Tuna Project’s mid-term review, the TCSB’s Micronesia-based contract was terminated and she was employed directly by FAO in the same role from 12 February 2018 onward. Under the original programming the project was designed to run through 14 January 2019. However, the funding agency (the Global Environmental Facility (GEF)) granted a no-cost extension to allow the project more time to complete its work within its original budget. To implement this extension, an amendment to the FAO-WCPFC Execution Agreement was signed on 21 February 2019, and the duration of the agreement was extended to 30 September 2019. At that time, all WCPFC-led project activities will cease and administrative close-out procedures will be completed before the end of the year. Under the amended WCPFC-FAO Execution Agreement, the TCSB continues to handle coordination tasks associated with the WCPFC activities from Rome until her contract with FAO terminates on 16 August 2019.