E-monitoring uses video cameras, remote sensors, and
satellites installed on fishing vessels to provide information on activities
such as retained and discarded catch, bycatch (non-target species caught),
location of catch, and movement of catch between boats.
“Observing, measuring, assessing and reporting what is happening with commercial fishing vessels at sea is critical for reducing IUU [illegal, unreported and unregulated] fishing in the Pacific,” says Hugh Walton, the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Chief Technical Officer for the Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP2).
The Ministers at last month’s annual meeting (18–19 June) held in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), tasked the FFA Secretariat with working with members to develop an electronic monitoring policy before its next meeting in 2020. This policy is to be developed in collaboration with the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office (PNAO) and Pacific Community (SPC) researchers.
Several PNA member countries have focused on e-monitoring of longline vessels since a workshop last year. This was driven by one of its members, FSM, committing to having 100 per cent of its longline vessels with e-monitoring by 2023.
E-monitoring is particularly important for longline fishing where there is a large number of vessels with limited space, making it difficult to have human observers on every boat.
Unlike purse-seine fishing, conditions on longline vessels are often very difficult, with cramped quarters, and boats can be at sea for many months at a time.
The Pacific purse-seine fishery has 100 per cent human observer coverage on vessels. However, e-monitoring could also complement the activities of observers on these boats.
With e-monitoring, different areas of the vessel can be monitored at the same time and operate 24-7. The images and data can be stored indefinitely and reviewed multiple times.
Fisheries Managers from across the Pacific met in Honiara last week to discuss strategies for ensuring sustainable and profitable longline fisheries in the Pacific.
Although scientists currently rate the southern longline fishery, primarily targeting southern albacore tuna, as biologically sustainable with no overfishing, there is concern about the economic viability of this fishery.
This fishery is currently affected by poor economic conditions, due to the relatively low value of the fish, the relatively high costs of Pacific island based fishing operations, and declining catch rates. This is of concern given that many Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) have domestic longline fisheries.
Low profitability is also an issue in the tropical longline fishery, which limits the economic benefits that Pacific island coastal States can get from their longline resources.
Last week’s workshop, facilitated by Alice McDonald, consultant at NRE People, sought to explore the issues facing longline fisheries, and develop some strategies for overcoming these issues.
The Oceanic Fisheries Management project (OFMP2) supported the workshop, which aims to have a regional longline strategy ready to present to the Forum Fisheries Committee in July next year.
Participants in the workshop identified the following key objectives:
Avoiding a collapse in the target tuna fish stocks
Ensuring economic sustainability – employment and livelihoods
Minimising environmental impacts
Respecting human rights, including safety of observers on boats
Improving monitoring, surveillance and compliance, especially given the uncertainty of data about Illegal, Unreported or Unregulated (IUU) fishing
A MRAG study into longline fishing of tropical tuna species indicates that the two biggest IUU risks are from misreporting or non-reporting of catches (49%), followed by post harvest activities (39%), including illegal transhipment of fish at sea. Only about 3% of IUU is likely due to unauthorised or illegal fishing.
Derek Ta’uika Tagosia, e-Reporting and Monitoring Coordinator for the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources, reported on the success of their e-reporting, now installed and operational on over 100 locally based fishing vessels.
“Electronic reporting is entering and sending of catch and other data from the vessel to the office via satellite devices,” he said. “Before that we were using manual reporting where a log sheet is handed out to the captains and they fill it in manually using pens or pencils and we found a lot of challenges – handwriting is not clear, some missing fields, some missing pages, some using dialects.
“One of the biggest problems we had with manual logsheets was the delay in receiving those logsheets; we received them weeks late, or even months. But moving into e-reporting we managed to receive those logsheets – in just a click of a button.
“You can have the catch record for that day and the data for that catch, for that day.”
Experiences with longline fisheries in Samoa and Papua New Guinea were also presented, providing an opportunity for participants to share lessons learnt from successful initiatives and discuss strategies to overcome persisting challenges.
The workshop group listed the most urgent actions they thought needed to be taken in the regions longline fisheries including:
Strengthening MCS for longline fisheries, including increased implementation of electronic reporting and electronic monitoring
Promoting zone-based management
Locking in high seas allocations
Tightening transhipment measures, especially in the high seas
Specifying sovereign fishing rights
Gaining agreement on target reference points
Working towards a harvest strategy that recognises existing zone-based management measures
Developing management approaches that increase economic revenue and benefits
Understanding the stocks and linking scientific research to Monitoring, Compliance and Surveillance (MCS) needs
Defining and protecting maritime boundaries and baselines
Getting stronger agreement about crew welfare, perhaps through a Resolution at the next Tuna Commission (WCPFC) meeting in December.
Chair of the meeting, FFA’s Deputy Director General, Matt Hooper said that resource owners, the PICTs, were currently paying for most of the costs of managing the longline fishery but were not enjoying a share of the economic returns.
“We need to look at ways to improve the economic rents from tuna fisheries, and if we are successful in that endeavour we may be in a position to recoup some of the management costs from industry.”
“Our Territory, being part of New Zealand, does not usually directly benefit from international funding, but this region-wide initiative has really benefited us,” said the member from Tokelau speaking about the Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP2) at its Steering Committee today.
“We have benefited over the past 12 months from MSC [Marine Stewardship Council] certification of our free school purse seine fishery, and by participating in workshops establishing the rights of SIDS [Small Island Developing States] on the high seas. There’s been a lot of work done and we are very appreciative of GEF funding.
Tokelau’s sentiments were echoed by delegates from Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Marshall islands and Niue, who also mentioned workshops, training, funding of observers, and the Catch Documentation Scheme as benefits of the project.
Project Coordinator, Hugh Walton, told the Committee that there were funds available to extend the Project for another 18 months beyond the finish of the project in June next year until December 2020. He said such an extension would expand climate change work and increase funding of knowledge management activities.
The members of the Steering Committee warmly endorsed the proposed extension.
The delegate from the Federated States of Micronesia said it was very complex to to try and implement all the programs, and although the project had achieved many of the goals there was still more that could be achieved.
A few members also mentioned the importance of further climate change research, especially at the national level.
The delegate for Tokelau said: “This project has produced a lot of very good information. It would be good if the project could focus more on national information, especially on climate change. We are very concerned about climate change. We would like a bigger investment in this so we can make important policy decisions. Some of these decisions may mean transferring half our population to another country and the loss of a whole culture.”
Deputy Director General of FFA, Matt Hooper, who was chairing the meeting thanked everyone for their comments and said: “We will be taking this request for extension to UNDP and FAO as soon as possible.”
The foresight of Pacific Islands country leaders in the late ’90s means that the tropical tuna stocks in the Western and Central Pacific today are being fished sustainably, despite pressures from increased fishing, including illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing.
These are the findings of UN expert consultant on ocean and coastal management and governance, Dr David Vousden, who presented the conclusions of a detailed analysis of Western and Central Pacific oceanic fisheries to a meeting of Pacific fisheries managers in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, earlier this month.
Dr Vousden says one of the most notable aspects of the tuna fisheries within the Pacific Islands region has been its continuing sustainability.
“All the available scientific monitoring evidence and modelling supports the conclusion that the tuna fishery in the Convention area is sustainable and is currently not being overfished.
“This is down to the fact that the countries have been working together through this Convention [Western and Central Pacific Fisheries] and by carrying out the various activities and requirements in terms of monitoring and managing the fisheries, both within their EEZs [exclusive economic zones] and out there in the high seas as well.”
Many Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) depend on tuna fisheries for a significant part of their income through their own domestic fishing operations and through licensing foreign vessels. About 60 per cent of the world’s commercial tuna supplies come from this region.
But tuna are highly mobile fish that moves across the EEZs of many different countries and also across the high seas. For this reason, Pacific tuna fisheries management is considered to be a “transboundary concern” whereby countries need to negotiate with each other about fishing access and sustainability.
“This process identifies the threats and their effects on fisheries and people, but it also looks at the real root causes that are making these happen,” he says.
“So, if you have a threat like overfishing, why is this happening? Is it because it’s not being monitored properly? Is it due to illegal fishing?
“Once you know these root causes, you can look at how best to resolve them and reduce or remove the threat.”
Dr Vousden found that while the tuna fisheries in the Pacific Islands region are currently sustainable, they are also being threatened by the future risks of overfishing, climate change, bycatch of non-target species like sharks and turtles, and potentially by pollution from the land and from vessels on the sea.
“One of the biggest challenge is improving the management processes,” he says. “The current management processes have been successful but they are rather ad hoc and there is a need to move to stronger longer term strategies for managing harvesting to avoid the risk of overfishing, supported by strengthened compliance and enforcement and enhanced information gathering and scientific understanding.
Dr Vousden also noted the massive issue of climate change and pointed to the “exceptionally good climate change modelling” being conducted by the Pacific Community (SPC) scientists. Within this context, he cautioned that the predicted impacts from climate change could potentially upset and confound the otherwise good efforts toward long-term, sustainable management of the oceanic fishery.
“Tuna are restricted in their range by water temperatures and by the amount of tuna ‘forage’ or food supply that they have. Climate change affects both of these parameters,” he says.
“We are seeing a change over the past decade where tuna populations are moving away from some islands and migrating closer to others. We are also seeing the upwelling currents from ocean floors diminishing and, along with them, much of the nutrients that drive the food chains that the tuna rely upon.”
Dr Vousden has set out his findings in a technical report, which needs to be factually approved by all the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Pacific member countries. Once agreed, the next step is to produce a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for ministerial endorsement. This may then well lead to further funding and investment to support the PICTs in implement the actions identified and endorsed within the SAP.
Dr Vousden is optimistic that such support to implement the SAP would receive international support and funding, especially given the record of OFMP2: “This is about as good a flagship project as you can get in terms of governance and management of large marine ecosystems. The countries and their partners really understand what needs to be done in terms of oceanic fisheries management, and they’re really going for it.”
Despite the scale of possible threats and their impacts on the marine ecosystem, Dr Vousden is also confident of the ability of the regional and national fisheries managers to tackle them.
“When you’re dealing with an area the size of the Western and Central Pacific and you’ve got maybe 4,000 fishing boats out there at any one time, some in the high seas and some in EEZs, with different roles and regulations applying to them, just monitoring the fishery is a massive challenge.
“But I have seen this region slowly but surely rise to this challenge over the past two decades, both in understanding what needs to be done and in taking the necessary management actions. This gives me enormous optimism for the fisheries in this region.
“If they can keep going the way they are, and if they can maintain their dedication and interest in managing the fisheries, and with further advances in the science and our knowledge, then I think the Pacific oceanic fisheries stands every chance of remaining in good shape into the foreseeable future.
“The one overriding concern that remains, however, must be the monitoring of the impacts from climate change and being able to adaptively manage the fishery and the potential socioeconomic effects in the region that climate change can cause.”
The OFMP2 builds on previous GEF support that assisted the region in developing and adopting the Convention and then assisted with building the foundations, institutions and capacity for more sustainable Pacific fisheries management.
The objective of OFMP2 is to support Pacific SIDS in meeting their obligations to implement and effectively enforce global, regional and sub-regional arrangements for the conservation and management of transboundary oceanic fisheries thereby increasing sustainable benefits derived from these fisheries.
SustainPacFish is a new web portal designed to provide Pacific fisheries managers and industry with links to the latest information about measures to conserve and manage Pacific fisheries, especially tuna.
Launched today (23 March 2018), SustainPacFish is an initiative of the Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (OFMP2) funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).
FFA Director General, JamesMovick, says SustainPacFish was designed after surveying potential users of the Pacific. It publishes the latest information about conservation management measures and actions to implement them.
“Our aim is to link people involved in fish in the Pacific – industry, researchers, communities and government – with definitive information about management, policies and practices that lead to sustainable use of Pacific fisheries and the conservation of our marine resources,” he says.
The new web portal is carefully designed to meet the needs of those involved and interested in Pacific fisheries. 400 leading figures involved in different aspects of oceanic fisheries management and sustainability were asked what they wanted, and they nominated simplicity, clarity and a focus on data.
“I want to know how many fish are out there, how healthy the stocks are, and what is predicted for the future,” says one respondent. “That’s the only way we can write fishing policies that will keep our industry alive and well.”
Important information is already available through web sites operated by the FFA, Pacific Community (SPC) and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
“This site is not to duplicate this information but to provide an easy one stop shop to these sites and others for fisheries managers, governments and industry.
“We provide links and summaries – that’s why we call it a portal, a doorway to access information”. Movick says SustainPacFish also synthesises and simplifies existing information about Pacific fisheries that is not already accessible on other websites.
Users of the site can choose from six topics: fish stocks, economics, catch & harvest, bycatch, compliance and observers.
Once users have selected their topic they can then choose to look at information and links on a whole of region scale or by looking at the subregional grouping of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).
Additional content on subregional agreements and on individual countries will be progressively added as will content about the activities, progress and outcomes of the OFMP2.
“There is a lot of management, compliance, policy and research work happening across the region at any given time, all related to ensuring the future of our tuna fisheries,” says Movick.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) initiated the OFMP2 project, which is being implemented by FFA and managed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The OFMP2:
Supports Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as the major bloc at the WCPFC to adopt regional conservation and management measures
Supports innovative approaches being developed by Pacific SIDS at a sub-regional level, as they collaborate in fisheries of common interest
Assists SIDS to apply measures nationally in their own waters and to their fleets.
This initiative also represents a significant new model of support to the South Pacific. Australia and other partners in the region should consider how additional funding could further capitalise on this investment in the maritime surveillance capability of South Pacific nations and reinforce regional ties.
Aerial surveillance allows for much more efficient coverage of the exclusive economic zones and adjacent high-seas areas of the 15 nations in the FFA, a combined area of more than 21 million square kilometres. Working in conjunction with patrol boats, aerial surveillance may allow rapid enforcement action to investigate potential illegal fishing activity.
The contracted model will cost Australia an estimated $10-15 million annually. Using civilian patrol aircraft has advantages. As they do not need the full functionality to serve military applications, they can be expected to have substantially lower operating costs. The contracted planes will be able to provide much more flexible and responsive support than is possible with military aircraft, which are usually tasked through donor-nation military channels. This will provide a cost-effective additional surveillance capability to complement continuing surveillance support provided by the Quadrilateral Defence Coordinating Group, which involves Australia, the US, France and New Zealand.
However what makes this model significant is how it serves to strengthen regional cooperation. Aerial surveillance now provides FFA with a capability that is directly under its control. This will require South Pacific nations to work together as FFA members to determine surveillance priorities.
Managing aerial surveillance operations may also provide the context for greater levels of information sharing in the region. Central to this is the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA), agreed by FFA members in 2014 and ratified by Australia in July this year. The NTSA allows the various jurisdictions to share information related to law enforcement, of which aerial surveillance will become a primary data source.
Yet, as beneficial as the initiative is, the allocation of $10-15 million per year cannot be expected to provide comprehensive coverage across a 21 million square kilometre operating area. By comparison, the Australian Border Force’s maritime surveillance contract is worth approximately AUD$84 million annually to patrol an area that is less than 40% of the Pacific region. The FFA will need to constantly balance between scope and thoroughness of coverage to get the best effect from the system. The vast distances involved in the Pacific also means a considerable proportion of the contracted air hours will be needed for transit between locations, rather than for patrolling.
Having already established a contract and invested in this capability, any additional funding should allow for a higher proportion of the total air hours to be dedicated to surveillance patrolling. More money is likely to yield a disproportionate increase in patrolling time given the system already in place. This gives Australia an opportunity – either by providing additional funding or encouraging contributions from like-minded powers – to greatly increase the value of this support to the region.
By enhancing the region’s ability to monitor and control their own resources, PMSP aerial surveillance aims to better assist Pacific Island nations to safeguard regional economic stability and maritime security. To get the best from its investment, Australia should consider modest increase. This will substantially lift regional resilience, through the better protection of economic resources, greater capability of law enforcement and to reinforce Pacific cooperation.
Three Pacific Island sustainable seafood businesses were among 40 finalists from across the globe that pitched to investors at the Fish 2.0 Innovation Forum at Stanford University, in Palo Alto, CA, USA. Representing the Pacific Islands were Didds Fishing Company, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu’s Shepherd Islands Organic Seafood and Indigo Seafood Palau.
James Sanderson, Indigo Seafood said he was grateful for the opportunity.
“This has been such an amazing experience, I feel very honoured to have represented Palau and have this opportunity to speak directly to investors and show them what we are doing in Palau as custodians of the ocean to ensure there will be fish for generations to come.
It’s been great to be here as part of a Pacific Team, I’ve learnt a lot and want to thank Chad Morris, PTI Australia for initiating and putting together the preparatory workshop, ensuring we were pitch ready and could make the most of the opportunity. Also the support and feedback from Tony Sullivan, FFA and Jenny Wright, USA State Department and Leigh Moran, Calvert Foundation in the workshop”
The room erupted when Toata Molea, Didds Fishing Company was announced as the winner of the Pacific track of the competition. Mr Molea was ecstatic about being named a winner.
“I still can’t believe it, I’m so happy, all the pitches were of such a high standard, I feel very honoured to have won the Pacific Track.” said Mr Molea.
Chad Morris, General Manager, Investment and Tourism, Pacific Trade Invest Australia travelled to Palo Alto to support the Pacific finalists and help them prepare their pitches.
“The ocean and fisheries is crucial to the economic livelihood and food security in the Pacific Islands, it’s vital that we continue to develop and promote sustainable fishing enterprises, this is why PTI Australia became a sponsor of Fish 2.0 as it’s a great platform that not only brings Pacific fishing enterprises together but also nurtures and exposes them to an investment market they may otherwise have never encountered.
“There’s some amazing sustainable approaches to fishing that’s being developed in the Pacific, you just need to listen to the pitches from Toata Molea, Didao Fishing Company, Obed Matariki, Shepherd Islands Organic Seafood and James Sanderson, Indigo Seafood to hear how they are making an impact not only in the ocean but also assisting the communities of where they operate.
“Each of the Pacific enterprises did an amazing job pitching, they did the Pacific proud and too see how far they have come both as individuals and clarity in their business from when they started the competition is immense. To have made it to the stage at Stanford University and to pitch to a room full of investors is a huge and they should be proud of this achievement.”
2017 Fish 2.0 Winners
US south Atlantic track: Panacea Oyster Co-op
Chile and Peru track: Sustainable Fishery Trade; Lima, Peru
New England track: Real Oyster Cult; Duxbury, Massachusetts, US
West Coast and Alaska track: Northline Seafood; Sitka, Alaska, US
Supply chain innovation track: NovoNutrients; Sunnyvale, California, US
Transparency and traceability track: ThisFish Seafood Traceability; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Short pitch competition winner: American Unagi; Thomaston, Maine
About Fish 2.0
Fish 2.0 connects seafood businesses and investors to grow the sustainable seafood sector.
Working through our unique global network, competition platform and events, Fish 2.0 participants collaborate to drive innovation, business growth and positive impact.
Entrepreneurs meet potential investors, partners and advisors who help them accelerate impact and growth.
Investors and advisors get early access to investment opportunities and learn about emerging technologies and trends. And industry leaders gain direct access to sustainable seafood suppliers and partners.
PTI Australia, The U.S Department of State, The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency are sponsors of the Fish 2.0 Pacific Islands Track.
Unreported tuna catches, especially lack of adequate verification of catches in the high seas is the biggest issue facing control of Illegal and Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
But new digital technology looks set to help commercial fishers to better record and report their activities.
“There is a big need to improve the timeliness and reliability of the fisheries data that managers and compliance officers receive,” says Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Hugh Walton who coordinates the Oceanic Fisheries Management Project.
“There are currently challenges with fishers not properly monitoring or reporting as required, and the paper-based systems in place make it difficult to enforce and ensure mandatory data is submitted.”
FFA is working with the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) to develop and implement a regional strategy to strengthen fishery monitoring and data collection through the use of electronic monitoring and reporting.
“The use of electronic log sheets and observer forms and camera-based electronic monitoring systems as well as independent observers on fishing vessels will help us to make sure that the regulations are met,” says Walton. “Such monitoring will also make sure scientists have the most reliable data possible on which to base their assessment of the sustainability of tuna stocks.”
Better monitoring also means scientists can measure the impacts of tuna fishing on accidentally caught animals (bycatch), such as sharks, turtles, seabirds and dolphins.
Last year the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Solomon Islands and Fiji started projects to trial and implement electronic monitoring with some of their longline tuna fishers.
A PNA workshop convened earlier this year between these countries, FFA and SPC looked at how these projects were progressing, and how they might fit into the broader regional electronic monitoring and reporting strategy.
FFA’s Peter Cusack participated in the workshop. He says while there are inevitable challenges to implementing new technologies including costs, the participants agreed that: “the cost of electronic monitoring needs to be compared to the cost of poor information, and that doing nothing comes at a cost.”
The vision of the electronic monitoring and reporting strategy currently under development, is to provide: “a monitoring and assessment framework that provides reliable and timely information to ensure ecologically sustainable management objectives can be met and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing can be eliminated.”’
The strategy would also see tuna fishers using tablet devices or computers rather than paper forms to electronically report on catch and operational requirements.
“Implementing this will require that FFA, SPC and PNA provide training for fisheries staff, who would then in turn train agents and operators in the use of the e-reporting tools,” says Walton.
“The benefits in having more reliable, accurate and timely data will be enormous for managing the world’s largest tuna fishery and ensuring its sustainability into the future.”
SUVA, 28 APRIL 2017 (FBC NEWS) — The Fisheries Ministry has recently introduced a vessel monitoring system to help in the surveillance of Fiji Exclusive Economic Zone.
This was highlighted by Fisheries Minister Semi Koroilavesau in parliament this week.
“Each vessel that is fishing within the Exclusive Economic Zone has beacons that are monitored by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in Honiara. So vessel movements within its territory either it be Fiji or any other Pacific Islands is basically monitored and these reports are also given by the fishing vessels that are legally fishing to report any legal activity within their area of responsibilities.”
Koroilavesau says they also have observers in all licensed fishing vessels that carry out inspections while the boat is out at sea.
The Ministry also has an electronic system where units are installed on ships which make videos of activities on board.