The Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) is part of the Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division of SPC, and is the Pacific Community’s regional centre for tuna fisheries research, fishery monitoring, stock assessment and data management. It was established by the 1980 South Pacific Conference (as the Tuna and Billfish Assessment Programme) to continue and expand the work initiated by its predecessor project, the Skipjack Survey and Assessment Programme.
The OFP provides scientific services relating to oceanic (primarily tuna) fisheries management to its membership. These services include fishery monitoring, data management, ecosystem and biological research relevant to the fisheries, and stock assessment and evaluation of species- and ecosystem-based management options.
The most important programme outputs are information (e.g., reports on the status of fisheries, stocks and ecosystems), infrastructure (e.g., databases, monitoring programmes), advice (e.g., regarding appropriate levels of fishing), and national capacity building in SPC members.
The OFP has three main objectives as outlined in the FAME Strategic Plan:
- High-quality scientific information and advice for regional and national fisheries management authorities on the status of, and fishery impacts on, stocks targeted or otherwise impacted by regional oceanic fisheries;
- Accurate and comprehensive scientific data for regional and national fisheries management authorities on fisheries targeting the region’s resources of tuna, billfish and other oceanic species; and
- Improved understanding of pelagic ecosystems in the western and central Pacific Ocean.
These objectives are pursued through a diverse work programme across four sections, as shown in the figure below.
The OFP has a diverse range of stakeholders.
Our key clients are the fisheries administrations of SPC members, for whom we process and manage data from commercial tuna fishing fleets (both domestic and foreign licensed), assist in the development and implementation of effective fishery monitoring programmes, provide advice on the status of tuna and other affected pelagic fish stocks, conduct research on the biology and ecology of the pelagic ecosystem and provide training and other capacity building in these areas. The Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and its various sub-groups (particularly the Parties to the Nauru Arrangement (PNA) and the Te Vaka Moana Arrangement) are also key clients.
The OFP provides data products, scientific analyses and advice to assist these groups with the assessment and development of fisheries management measures. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) is responsible for international management of tuna fisheries throughout the region. The WCPFC membership includes all 26 SPC members, as well as Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, the European Union, Japan, Korea and Philippines. The OFP provides data management and stock assessment services and advice to WCPFC under an annual service agreement.
The overall budget of the OFP in 2010 was approximately XPF 650 million (USD 7 million), with funding contributions from the SPC core budget (made up of the assessed contributions of SPC members), programme funding (made up of additional multi-year commitments made by the Governments of Australia, France and New Zealand) and by a range of projects, as shown below: