At the Fourth Forum Fisheries Ministerial Meeting in the Republic of Palau, eight nations - the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu - agreed to prohibit licensed tuna vessels from fishing in two areas marked for protection beginning June 15. Environmental groups praised the decision.
"It is the boldest move ever to prevent the overfishing of tuna. It is significant. It has really drawn a line," says Greenpeace campaigner Dean Baigent-Mercer.
The nations identified so-called "doughnut holes" as waters that have been overexploited by tuna fishermen. One of the two areas is located north of Papua New Guinea, and the other is further east. Licensed boats operating in the protected waters will have to carry fisheries observers on board, among other measures.
"Our region will achieve success if our countries band together to adopt and implement action plans to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, both on national levels and with respect to fishing on the high seas," Palau VP Elias Chin told meeting attendees.