Sat, 22 July 2017
Last Updated: Fri, 21 Jul 2017 8am
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Pacific fisheries observers safety a concern: WWF

PORT MORESBY, (POST COURIER) - Concerns have been raised that some countries have not yet implemented the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) requirements, imposed in 2016.

This is to provide all regional observers with appropriate technology that will not only save lives but ultimately improve data they submit.

The concern was raised by World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Bubba Cook, at the Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) meeting, which was held in Moolooba, Australia last week.

The concerns follow reports of another Pacific observer, from Papua New Guinea, named as James Numbaru, lost at sea.

The incident brings to six, the number of observers lost in the region since 2010, for PNG, this is the fourth.

Numbaru has been missing for over two weeks.

“Our condolences go out to Mr Numbaru’s family and the larger PNG fisheries community. One observer lost, regardless of the circumstances surrounding that loss, is too many.

The FFA and the WCPFC collectively have championed improvements in fisheries observer policy more than any other region. However, policy is only as good as how well it is implemented and enforced.

Cook, who has long been a strong advocate of observer safety and security, had strongly urged that action should be prioritised to implement these technology requirements, and to expand the technologies to all the fisheries observers working in the region.

Meanwhile, Cook said pertinent to the success of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Vessel Days at Sea (VDS), the Tokelau Agreement as well as addressing illegal unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU), had strongly urged that Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) member states must maintain a consistent and committed approach to the implementation of electronic monitoring (EM) and electronic reporting (ER) in the region.

“The FFA Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance Working Group ( MCSWG) this year tabled a recommendation for full implementation of ER by 2019. We think this is a very reasonable and prudent proposition.”

Likewise, EM is moving forward quickly, and it would not be unreasonable to secure a large proportion of EM coverage regionally by 2020.

Even if EM is not replacing observers, cameras that supplement observers could significantly improve their safety while providing other important information,” he said.

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