FISHERIES observer job is a challenging one for local observers and those from other Pacific Island countries, says the Solomon Islands Observer Trainer/Assessor Harold Vilia.
Mr Vilia highlighted this during his presentation at the Tunanomics workshop at the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) headquarters, in Honiara recently.
Some of these include personal safety, ignorance, time, language, compromising, and bribery.
“Sometimes observers are in a position not to report on compliance issues. Mainly because they fear they might lose their job if they report the vessel,” Mr Vilia stated.
“Or sometimes if they board another vessel, they (vessel crews and captain) would refuse to help with their job onboard due to past issues with other vessels,” he added.
“Observers can be ignorant at times; they just tag along with the vessels and they don’t want to report issues, or sometimes because of their experience – where new observers don’t know what non-compliance is.”
He added sometimes it takes three to four months for observers to return to shore and then board another vessel and so, some issues are not always reported.
“Sometimes, the observers get too friendly with the crews and captain, which normally leads to observers forgetting what they are supposed to do.
“Bribery is also one of the issues that every observer faces. Some observers are smart enough, when they took the money; they don’t use it until they report the vessels action to the observer manager in their report.
“This can lead to the matter taken to court and the vessel facing the full force of law,” the Observer Trainer/Assessor said.
To avoid being targeted or for personal safety reasons, the observers were also being told to use their own languages to report on compliance issues.
This can be later translated to English on shore, before the report can be submitted to the observer managers.
He affirmed that, it is a must for every vessel to have an observer on board.
Meanwhile, Mr Vilia said that they now have 100 percent coverage on all purse seiners and 5 percent on all long liners.
This is due to the sizes of the boats and other health issues that are associated to the long line vessels.
By RONALD TOITO’ONA