Tuna Commission adopts Pacific port inspections of suspect fishing boats
Tuna are offloaded from a fishing vessel spotted by the Palau Marine law enforcers this year in the
island nation's waters. (Photo: Ongerung Kambes Kesolei)
Manila, Philippines- The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting here has adopted its proposal for a new measure to combat illegal fishing by boosting Pacific island capacities to conduct port inspections. And that was viewed as good news by interested observers.
The Fisheries Forum Agency's James Movick said the adoption of the port state measure is a victory against illegal fishing.
“WCPFC has just right now adopted the Port State management measure. It has taken four years for us to get it to this point and it has required quite a lot of dedication by the members and on the part of the FFA secretariat,” Movick told reporters this morning.
“What this does is puts into place within the WCPFC area a port state management measure that allows for the inspection of boats in ports but on a basis that is affordable and achievable by the member countries,” Movick said."I am very, very happy that we have been able to get this out of this Commission meeting,”
Pamela Maru, the FFA official who led the project, was also pleased that the initiative was one of the first taken by the WCPFC to cater to the special needs of Pacific nations – a responsibility that is part of the organization’s founding convention.
“It is the first time a measure that really looks at the implications and impacts on small island developing states, what those obligations might mean in terms of addressing their needs and their capacity-development requirements and developing, or having, some sort of agreement to develop mechanisms that will support their ability to improve their technical capacity,” Maru said
“With this measure now in place members can start working towards designating ports where they have the capacity to undertake port inspections, develop risk-based analysis to target where their inspection and compliance efforts are focused, and at the same time, identify where those gaps are,” she said.
The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization oversees a more complex international agreement on Port-State measures.
While Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu have signed this agreement, Pacific island nations believe it is beyond their current capacity to do so.
Angela Martini, EU's head of delegation for International Relations, European Commission, told Pacific reporters on Wednesday that while they consider the FFA proposal as “not as ambitious and strong” as the FAO port state measure, it is still a step towards the fight against IUU,
“We are ready to support it because we can see it is a first step in the right direction to re-inforce controls in the region and so enhance the fight against IUU fishing,” Martini said.
FFA said there are already SIDS ports with has the capacity to undertake inspection. This measure will lead to more ports conducting inspections and more jobs for Pacific Islanders in fisheries compliance.
“It is definitely a great achievement for the FFA members but also for the partners that we have worked with,” Maru said
“Japan came on board this year and worked collaboratively with and consulted with FFA members as we developed the proposal,” she added.