NADI, (PACNEWS) —- The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) has called on the Tuna Commission to include fisheries observers in all transhipments taking place in the high seas.
The issue was highlighted this week at the Pacific Tuna Forum underway in Nadi, Fiji.
Largely unmonitored, transshipping involves fishing vessels – longliners – transferring their catch to ‘motherships’. This means that boats can stay out at sea for a longer period of time, evading checks on their fishing practices and licence conditions.
PNA CEO, Dr Transform Aqorau told PACNEWS transhipment of purse seiners is well controlled but transhipment of longliners is a major problem that needs to be addressed in the region.
“Transhipment for purse seiners happens only in ports but there is very very poor level of monitoring of transhipment of the longliners particularly in the high seas and I agree that’s a real problem.
“We have to have a better monitoring of transhipment and there are a lot of things happening out there that we don’t know and we need to tighten up,” said Dr Aqorau.
There are more than 3,500 longline vessels currently authorised to fish by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
WCPFC manages fishing in the high seas, outside and in between the islands’ 200 mile EEZ.
Dr Aqorau said there needs to be observers on longliners to bring them under better control and proper management.
“One thing we trying to promote in response to that in the PNA is to get the Tuna Commission to agree to have observers on all the transhipments that takes place in the high seas and that we bring them to port so we can have better monitoring of fish transferred from one boat to another boat,” Dr Aqorau told PACNEWS.
Last week, the Nauru Government announced a blanket ban on all transhipments within its waters, following a Greenpeace bust of an illegal operation on a Taiwanese tuna longliner Shuen De Ching No.888, which appeared to be fishing without permission, in the high seas pocket that borders Nauru’s EEZ.
On board the vessel, Greenpeace activists uncovered sacks containing 75 kilograms of shark fins from at least 42 sharks.
Under Taiwanese law and Pacific fishing rules, shark fins may not exceed 5% of the weight of the shark catch, and with only three shark carcasses reported in the log book, the vessel was in clear violation of both.
The move ,the Nauru government said would help to end the laundering of fish and bring huge economic benefits to its people.