Huge events to celebrate first UN sanctioned “World Tuna Day” in Pohnpei

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By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
May 2, 2017
Pohnpei—Last year the United Nations declared May 2 of each year to be World Tuna Day across the world. This was after a first push by the Parties to the Nauru agreement introduced the idea in 2011. Since then the eight Pacific islands nations who were signatories to the Nauru Agreement have recognized a Tuna Day to various degrees but this year was the first year for the FSM to have a day of real celebration.
The Parties to the Nauru Agreement is a group of eight Pacific Island nations who together control the world’s most lucrative tuna fishing grounds. In 1982, the countries agreed to act in concert together in order to return the maximum benefit of the natural resources to the islands that hold those waters. The nations are the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Tuvalu.

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The event today began with a parade down the main street of Kolonia from the State government building to the Spanish wall where a full day of festivities and booths had been set up with a variety of activities for people to participate in.
The day has not yet been established as a National Holiday which meant that many people were at work and unable to attend but the crowd was still substantial. During his speech, Vice President Yosiwo George said that he hopes that the FSM would soon add the day to the list of national holidays since tuna is the FSM’s most valuable natural resource.
The event was coordinated by the National Oceanic Resources Management Authority. Dozens of corporate and government donors provided substantial financial support (please see the thank you announcement in this issue for a complete list.) In conjunction with the World Tuna Day festivities, Taiyo Micronesia Corporation and the National Fisheries Corporation sponsored a “World Tuna Day Fishing Tournament”. It was the largest ever fishing tournament the Pohnpei Fishing Club had ever had as anglers lined up for a potential share of the $10,000 in cash prizes that were up for grabs. That tournament is thoroughly covered in this issue as well.
Set up in tents in the Spanish Wall Park were several food vendors, activities for children run by various organizations, photo booths and a variety of other activities and vendors. ECE, and the Pohnpei Department of Education had a booth, as did NFC, Luen Thai, NORMA, Vital, FSM Telecommunication Corporation, Conservation Society of Pohnpei, MCC, Island Food Community of Pohnpei, and the International Organization for Migration among others.
During the formal portion of the day’s festivities, Matthew Chigiyal Deputy Director of NORMA read President Christian’s proclamation declaring May 2, to be World Tuna Day in the FSM.
Vice President George spoke of the importance of tuna to the FSM.
Ludwig Kumoru, PNA CEO also spoke of the importance of tuna to the PNA nations and presented some eye opening statistics. “In 2015, the total global tuna catch was around 4.8 million tons. This was worth some $14 billion USD—delivered market value. The total tuna catch from the Western Central Pacific, mainly from waters of the PNA was 2.7 million tons, just more than half the world’s catch at 56%, worth $8.4 billion USD—delivered market value,” he said. “Catch from FSM waters was 133,195 tons in 2015, about 3 percent of the global catch and worth approximately $420 million USD— delivered market value.
“What the PNA as a whole is getting for allowing fishing in its waters is currently about $500 million per year, FSM about $60 million of that. This is a lot of money, but yet only a fraction of the value of our tuna. The $500 million and $60 million is, however, a big increase from seven years ago when the whole of PNA was receiving only $60 million and FSM less than $20 million. PNA will continue to look at ways of increasing the returns back to our countries,” he said.
The PNA, as a bloc established the vessel day scheme that has helped to revolutionize the economic returns to the PNA member nations on the whole and individually. That scheme has applied only to purse seiners, but PNA has for quite some time, been discussing the potential of also applying that scheme to long lining vessels and continues to work on that possibility.
“The importance of tuna, be it scientific, social, economic, or political cannot be emphasized enough...with the oceans is the political and economic blood line that connects, binds, and breathes economic life to our countries, especially PNA, and that is tuna,” he concluded.
After his speech, Richard and Raychel Narruhn, winners of the PNA Art and Talent contest (see article in this issue) taught the audience a song that NORMA had commissioned for the event entitled, “Keido”, a catchy tune that is easy to remember for Pohnpeian speakers. They also performed their award winning song for the audience.
Lien Mwoakillio also won the community prize in the PNA Art and Talent contest. Some of the ladies of that group performed the award winning dance on the stage during the Festival.
A raffle was also held throughout the event with T-shirts and other prizes going to the winners.
During the day, several contests were held with several levels of cash prizes available to the winners.
For T-Shirt design the winners were Trisden Elias, David Segal, and Jermis Noket in that order.
A very popular contest was the Island Food Community of Pohnpei Tuna Recipe contest with tastings available. In the category of “Cuisine”, the winners were Thomas Inatio with an elegant Poached Tuna Belly dish. Second was Elna Julios for a Fish Piaia. In the category of “Preserved Snack” the winners were Thomas Inatio for his homemade sandwich. Second was Okai Johnson for “dried salt fish”. In the category of “Main Dish”, April Naranja won top prize for “Pineapple Tuna”. Second place was Thomas Inatio who won at least one prize in each category for his “Pohnpei Pepper Steak”. In third place was Jemara Booth for “Jem’s Tuna”. For “Appetizers”, Mark Johnny won for Tuna Poke followed by Thomas Inatio for “Kokoda”. In the category of “School Lunch”, Emihner Johnson won for Tuna Pele followed by Thomas Inatio for “Fish Tropical”.
CSP also coordinated some contests. The winners for their drawing contest were Grace Aldis, T-Sean John, Nora Amor, Jay Two Eliou, and Jeanay Darra in that order. For their High School competition were PICS High School, Madolenihmw High School, Calvary Christian Academy, and Our Lady of Mercy Christian High School in that order. The winners for the urohs or local skirt contest from first to last were Saioleen Santos, Mary Olpet, Alrynne Ardos, Jessical Wolphagen, and Ashlany Panuel.
The local skirts were auctioned off at the end of the celebration raising $850 which went to six ECE schools as had been previously agreed.
Organizers were extremely pleased with the success of the event and are now asking themselves how they can possibly top it next year. They say they don’t yet know but they are going to try.