About 22 fisheries officers from across 14 Pacific Island nations now have the skills to properly detect and investigate fisheries offences.
The competency-based month long intensive training course was conducted at the University of the South Pacific (USP) and backed by the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).
FFA Director General James Movick says these fisheries officers will now be at the front line of detecting major issues such as illegal fishing.
After a month of honing their investigative skills, the regional fisheries officers are now our gatekeepers.
FFA director general James Movick says this should boost the capacity of Pacific fisheries professionals to also better manage their marine resources, within their exclusive economic zones.
“This particlular course teaches them how to collect concrete evidence on board fishing boats when they board them in ports as well as how to prepare the evidence to go to court and have a successful prosecution.”
“This is part of our support for what we call MCS – Monitoring, Control and Surveillance activities which is a very very important part of our work,” says FFA Director General Jame Movick.
The 22 fisheries officers also upskilled on detecting and prosecuting a major problem now faced right across the Pacific – illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
But the FFA boss says regional and national laws is one thing, resource owners also must display a sense of ownership.
At the recent Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) 3rd Media Summit in Noumea, veteran pacific journalist Robert Matau reinforced that message..saying vigilance against distant water fishing nations is critical.
A message backed by FFA boss James Movick.
This has also led to the coining of a new phrase -Tunanomics.
“Because we are countries based on systems of law we have got to ensure that our investigating fisheries officers collect the appropriate evidence to be sure that we can have successful prosecutions,’ he says.
In 2012, the value of the tuna fisheries was estimated at around $7.2 billion from a total catch of 2.5 million tons of tuna.
The value of illegal fishing more than likely to run into the hundreds of millions.
“The problem is – otherwise you can have policy that is driven by knee jerk reactions and by sensationalism and really this is a very very complex fisheries management development issue,” according to Movick.
“So what we are trying to do is to get a sense of that across to people and in the case of FFA and because we are an inter-Govermental organisation we don’t really sensationalize news items or engage in sound bytes.”
“So developing the term tunanomics was our version of that soundbyte but it was to get people to understand the complexities of the issues behind what happening,” the FFA head said.
“There are economic issues, biology and environmental issues which all have to be taken into consideration.”
SUVA, (FIJI TV)