SOLOMON Islands has taken steps to develop the national crewing policy for fishing vessels that was agreed by the Fisheries Ministers of the Forum Fisheries Committee of the FFA where Solomon Islands is a member.
Fisheries Ministers of the 17 Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) member countries had agreed to implement the crewing policy at a meeting in 2019.
At that meeting, the Fisheries Ministers agreed on a minimum terms and conditions for crew employment with support of enhanced protections for Pacific fisheries seafarers largely based on the ILO 188 Work in Fishing Convention.
Speaking during the consultations this morning, Fisheries Deputy Secretary Technical, Ms. Rosalie Masu said the Harmonised Minimum Terms and Conditions for Access by Fishing Vessels (MTCs) are one of FFA Members’ key tools to regulate fishing access to their waters.
“The MTCs are a mechanism for setting agreed standards to apply in all FFA Members’ EEZs including Solomon Islands’ EEZ in support of the effective management of their fisheries resources. The MTCs apply to foreign fishing vessels licensed to fish in the EEZs of FFA Members adding that FFA Members can also apply them to their domestic fleets,” she said.
Ms. Masu stressed that Legal application of the MTCs will occur through national legislation, regulations and/or licensing conditions.
The consultations workshop has brought together people from different walks of life with vast work experiences and knowledge to develop the national crewing policy.
Ms. Masu urged the participants to interact and share their knowledge and experiences to better guide the draft crewing policy. The participants during the consultation workshop include representatives from Solomon Islands Maritime Authority, Police Maritime, Labour Division, Attorney Generals Chambers, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Solomon Islands National University, Immigration Division, Forum Fisheries Agency and Fisheries staff.
“With the wealth of knowledge and work experience that we have and possess in our work, I urge all of the participants to interact and share your knowledge and experience in order to develop the crewing policy for our crews,” she said.
The Fisheries Deputy Secretary Technical reiterated that the international and regional institution has established the standards and measures for crews that are working on board the fishing vessels, therefore, Solomon Island as a party to this arrangement is obliged to implement these standards and measures.
She pointed out that the development of this crewing policy is an indication of our commitment to implement the international and regional standards and measures that our government has endorsed.
Ms. Masu also highlighted the issue of mistreatment of crews as a global and regional issue that all countries including Solomon Islands has witness and must do something to protect them.
“It is our responsibility to protect the human rights of all Solomon Islanders that are working onboard the fishing vessels, both domestic and foreign that are license to fish in our jurisdictions.”
“I believe with the collaborate effort of inputs and recommendations it will progress and improve the draft policy framework,” she concluded.