HONIARA, 5 August 2020 – The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) has successfully sanctioned the regional Port State Measure (PSM) framework at its 114th meeting, held in June.
According to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Director General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, “This marks a significant milestone in the Agency’s efforts to strengthen and enhance port-based activities in relation to addressing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the territories of its 17 member states.”
These efforts are also reflective of the FFA’s Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Strategy (RMCSS) 2018–2023, which highlights PSM as “one useful MCS tool in the larger MCS toolbox available to members in the fight against IUU fishing”.
Mr Edward Honiwala, Director of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), highlighted that, “the adoption of the regional PSM framework provides the opportunity to strengthen the country’s National Port State controls, establish mechanisms that would facilitate our obligations under the WCPFC CMM on Port State Measures, and ensures that our Port State Controls are compatible with other international arrangements.”
The FFA Regional PSM Framework provides key elements, processes and responses necessary to facilitate targeted and effective PSM across the region. It provides guidance to FFA Members in developing minimum PSM standards to be applied at the national level, promoting inter-agency cooperation and coordination, and improving data and information exchange. The scope of the framework applies to all fishing vessels; therefore, members may apply these provisions to their national vessels at their own discretion.
The nature of fishing in the WCPO is multi-jurisdictional and multi-national and therefore requires internal and external networks to effectively manage any issues, such as illegal fishing and transnational crime. If implemented effectively, PSM can prevent IUU-caught fish from entering into national and international markets, and provides the foundation for further work in the area of catch certification and the Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS).
The FFA Secretariat’s PSM work is supported through a five-year investment from the New Zealand Government, which commenced in 2017 under the Pacific Islands Port State Measures (PIPSM) project.
Over the course of 2019, the regional PSM framework was developed by the FFA members. It underwent amendments and was tabled at four technical and governance meetings until it was officially adopted at the FFC114 in June 2020.
The Secretariat has commenced work on a prototype for an e-PSM tool which digitises and automates PSM processes in line with the regional PSM framework. In addition, discussions have kick-started with members that have identified national PSM priorities for support.
About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
FFA assists its 17 member countries to sustainably manage fishery resources that fall within their 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs). FFA provides expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management.
HONIARA – In an effort to step up monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) efforts to improve the management of its tuna fisheries, Solomon Islands will soon be the first state in the region to introduce a digital catch documentation and traceability scheme for the Noro port.
Following a workshop held in March in Munda, Western Province, plans are in place to have Noro port, which will be known as an e-port, conduct a pilot of the scheme.
The port of Noro is the only one in the region with all three types of fleets: purse seine, pole-and-line, and longline. It exports regionally and internationally, shipping whole fish, loins, canned fish, and sashimi-grade tuna.
The workshop involved representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries, customs, health, ICT services, the Forum Fisheries Agency, Soltuna Fishing Company, and National Fisheries Development (NFD).
Noro project will have “regional ramifications”
Local fisheries expert, the founding director of Pacific Catalyst, and the CEO of iTuna Intel, Dr Transform Aqorau, was instrumental in the establishment of the new scheme, which is currently in its infant stage.
“The project will have regional ramifications, as there have been a lot of discussions of a regional catch and traceability system,” Dr Aqorau said.
“The Noro e-port will be able to test the integration of electronic tools available into a pilot in a port-based context, as the starting point for a catch documentation scheme. The Noro e-port will see the digital integration of all port monitoring, compliance and surveillance related activities.
“The data to be integrated will include the requirements of the WCPFC port state measures, unloading data, factory weigh-in, and processed volumes leaving Noro. The system will mass balance inputs and outputs, and will use tablet-based apps,” said Dr Aqorau.
He said markets require transparency along the value chain, not simply assurances about the legality of the catch.
“Soltuna already has a world-class traceability scheme. Industry is leading the way. This is a partnership between the government and industry,” he added.
Pilot project will test integration of electronic tools
The pilot project will be used to test the integration of current electronic tools into port activities, as the starting point for an electronic catch documentation scheme (CDS) that should provide a substantial benefit to the region.
“The recent development of a regional blockchain-based traceability tool that could provide assurances, beyond the regulatory scope from harvest to export, offers a unique opportunity to be integrated in the development, and hence “extend” the range of the assurances provided all the way to the final consumer,” Dr Aqorau said.
Edward Honiwala, the Director of Fisheries for the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, said the scheme was part of the Solomon Islands Government’s effort to improve compliance.
“The linkage of information and data from the fishing vessels to the market is vitally important for the government. The complete information is important for the government, through the Ministry of Fisheries, to make decisions,” Mr Honiwala said.
He said that tuna was a product in high demand globally, and the local tuna industry had to work in the international arena with both marketing and trade. There were many challenges to face, especially in compliance and monitoring. That made improvements in Solomon Islands’ MCS important.
“This e-port project will be part of our MCS tools. We have a growing tuna industry in Solomon Islands; we have Noro, the tuna hub of Solomon Islands. The Bina Harbour project is also coming up, which the government named as its priority project. With those developments in the tuna sector … we must prepare as well,” he said.
Dr Aqorau said the next step was to scope and develop the project. There was still a long way to go, including identifying a developer, but the excitement of the stakeholders and their sense of ownership of the project were encouraging.
He hoped the e-port project would put Solomon Islands at the cutting edge of digitally integrated CDS.
“This will truly put us at the forefront of port state management and enforcement that integrates blockchain technology and other innovative apps, making us a leading tuna innovator,” Dr Aqorau said.
All smiles … Francisco Blaha and a Solomon Islander at work on a pole-and-line vessel in 2010. Francisco is this year’s SeaWeb Seafood Champion for advocacy. We profile him here. (Photo: Francisco Blaha)
Francisco “brings a unique perspective and has the credibility of very different but complementary groups in fisheries”, SeaWeb said when it announced the 2019 winners earlier this month. It noted that some of his ideas had been adopted by big players in the fishing industry.
Francisco sees his award as recognition
of his ability to work with three groups that were often at odds with each
other: governments, industry, and non-government organisations (NGOs). He says
the SeaWeb awards brings together many people trying to do the right thing.
“This is a good thing, with all the bad
news that fisheries get,” Francisco says.
“There are no superpowers attached to the award, to the disappointment of my daughter.”
SeaWeb is a project of the Ocean Foundation. It has presented awards in four categories since 2006 to recognise individuals and companies for outstanding leadership in promoting the production of environmentally responsible seafood.
It comes in part because he works for
himself, and does not have to follow any company line, he told Tuna Pacific
after winning the award.
“I guess people appreciate that I don’t
pretend to be anyone or anything I’m not: I’m just a dyslexic fisher that got
lucky with access to education and work for himself,” Francisco says.
“I have never had to use a suit and ties,
even when I was working with the UN [United Nations] in Rome. Whatever I got was on my own terms. I don’t
‘sell’ anything for anyone. If I don’t like something, I just don’t accept the
job, and I’m vocal on why I disagree with it.
“I dislike profoundly ingratitude and pretentiousness.”
Francisco discovers a love of the ocean
Anyone who has read Francisco’s popular blog – he says it had 25,000 individual readers in 2018 – knows that he began his fishing life working on boats taking squid, hake and toothfish in southern Argentina. But they may not know that he has an earlier association with the sea.
Francisco grew up far from the ocean, in
the traditional lands of the Guaraní people around the border of Paraguay and
Argentina, with his local mother and European father.
“My family crossed the Atlantic on board
a cruising ship from Germany all the way to Argentina when I was six years old.
I like to think that trip marked my life,” Francisco said.
It wasn’t the only thing that influenced
him to take up a life on the sea.
“I guess some people grow by action: they
decide they want similar things to their parents and other people around them.
Others, like me, grow by reaction, by going the opposite way. As anything to do
with the ocean was outside my family’s influence, I went that way,” Francisco says.
By joining the Argentinian navy as a
cadet, Francisco was able to go to high school. He learned a lot about “the
ocean, and rowing and swimming” – and then a second-hand 1976 National
Geographic fell into his hands.
“It had an article about the trip of the Hokule’a,
the Hawaiian double-hulled canoe that went from Honolulu to Papeete. I started
learning, reading history, and fantasising about the South Pacific,” he says.
Francisco loved the ocean, but not the military life – he admits to having a strong anti-authority streak – and when he was released from the navy after the Falklands War, he decided to go fishing for a few years, and worked as technician on board fishing and research vessels while he gained a Masters in fisheries science.
His experience of working during this time taught him that he had no desire to work in a job “where you spend half your time navigating political storms” of bureaucracies and grooming political connections to get jobs and promotions.
“So, I decided to come to the Pacific and
go to all those places I had read about in the article on the Hokule’a
as teenager. Two weeks after graduation, I got in a sailing boat that was going
to Tahiti via Cape Horn … no plans, no contacts, just hopes and a smile.”
He spent almost two years heading west, fishing
and doing odd jobs in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, before landing in New Zealand in
1995. He fell in love with the country, and has set up his life there.
An introduction to fisheries compliance
Francisco worked for New Zealand fishing
companies such as Sanford and Simunovich Fisheries. It was here that he was introduced
to a level of fisheries compliance he had not experienced. To his surprise, he
enjoyed the work.
Having decided it would be useful to have
a degree from an English-speaking university, he earned a Masters in food science,
then started doing domestic consulting work.
“I found international fisheries
consulting work mostly by chance,” Francisco says. “I didn’t know such a job
existed. But if fit me well: I know fishing, I have a good practical and
academic background, and I love travelling and spending time with fisheries
people. I also have a total lack of embarrassment about trying new languages,
and that helped, too.”
Apart from a two-year stint with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome, he has worked for himself for the past 25 years.
A familiar face in the Pacific – and around the world
Francisco is now a familiar face in the
Western and Central Pacific Ocean, where he holds contracts with governments,
charitable and non-government organisations, and international bodies. Most of
his work these days is with monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) to
combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. This involves him in
the development of port state measures (PSM) and catch documentation schemes
He does a lot of work with the Pacific Islands Fisheries Forum Agency (FFA), from high-level development of procedures such as the Port State Measures Framework to training compliance officers to the use of new hook-type scales to monitor transhipment volumes.
“The Guaraní I grew up with have a
culture that has a surprising affinity with the cultures of the Pacific, so the
customs that are the basis of Pacific life are not too foreign to me. When I
started collaborating with the FFA over 10 years ago, I found an organisation
whose values are akin to mine,” Francisco says.
“FFA is at the edge of the best practices
in fisheries worldwide. I love working for them. In fact, I consider many of
the staff as part of my extended family now.”
Home, soul and family in the Pacific
Francisco has his fingers in many other
pies, too. Among other projects, he is an adviser for the Marshall Islands
Marine Resource Authority (under a contract with the NZ Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade), “dealing with an amazing variety of stuff, from strategy
advice, procurement for boarding boats, intelligence analysis of vessels
arriving at port, inspections—and 100 other things.”
He is working with FAO on the implementation of port state measures and social responsibility and the use of blockchain technology to make the chain of fish production more transparent. And he is collaborating with OceanMind on remote intelligence analysis of fishing vessels.
A one-off project he had fun with was developing a colouring book to help train subsistence fishers of countries that belong to the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on best practice in fishing.
Francisco’s work isn’t restricted to this region. In his CV, he lists 58 countries he’s worked with around the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea.
However, while he works around the world,
his work in the Pacific has special meaning for him.
“The Pacific has been home for half my
life. It has given me a second run in life, and family, friends, meaningful
work, and an oceanic playground to surf, do open-water swims, spearfish,
paddle, navigate by wayfinding … My soul is at home in the Pacific. And the
Pacific fishing problems are my fishing problems – I live off fishing in this
ocean for most of my year.”
A passion for fairness
For someone who holds little regard for
rank, the challenging world of compliance may seem like an odd choice of
“The fact that I am here today in New
Zealand with this job is a function of my past, and relates to my appreciation
of the concept of fairness and equal opportunities. I’m coming into it from the
perspective of it being fair for all sides. It does not relate to enforcing
rules,” Francisco says.
“For me, the fisheries ‘crisis’ is not a
biological crisis, but one of politics, transparency, and fairness.
“Right now, the system is not fair. When
I broke my knee on board back in Argentina, when I had exams at university, there
was a ‘system’ set up by the fishers’ union to look after me. When I see the
conditions and pay that many of the crews today have, it just upsets me!
“I have the same posture on gender and
diversity. I don’t participate any more on panels and conferences unless the
organisers can prove that there is more diversity than at the last one. This is
not some ‘new age’ thing I’m trying to pose for; it’s just that is not fair,
and that is enough for me.
“I grew up in a country with not much of
a culture of compliance, and while I felt that many of the rules were
dumb, at least I expected they should have applied equally to everyone and
not just to some. The equality of the rule of law in New Zealand is a rare
He says he had found a niche that suits him,
working “in the middle” between regulators with whom he shares insights into
fishing; industry, which he can help be more cost-effective; and the fishers, for
whom he is a voice for decent working conditions and wages.
He is proud of being trusted by all.
“People respect that you understand their
job because you have done it yourself. For example, when you go on board, crew
immediately know if you spent time fishing by the way you move on board, the
fact that you know how to operate the instruments and the bridge—and that you
can call them on technical issues when they are trying to derail the
conversation when you find a compliance problem.
“It’s the same at factories. And in boardrooms. When people know you know your stuff, that is good for everyone to improve the industry.”
Fishing is the people – men and women
Francisco likes to point out that he
doesn’t work with fish any more.
“I work with the people who work with
fish. I love working with fishermen and fisheries inspectors, factory people. I
have gained a much wider perspective by working on the ground than being in
classrooms,” Francisco says.
“In a fishing boat, you don’t have to
like the guy next to you, but you should be able to trust him. Everyone on
board has a job, and you have to do your job right. If you don’t, people die;
it’s as simple as that.
“Fishing also makes you very aware
of your overall insignificance. When you are in storm at sea and there are 20 metre
waves outside and 80 knot wind gusts, nothing really matters a lot other than
staying alive. And when you see those seas and what nature can be, it is a
profound life experience … or at least it is for me.”
He would like to see more women working
in all fields of the fishing industry.
“It still is an unfair playing field out
there,” Francisco says.
“But I would say to women that it is
getting better, mostly because other women before you started opening the way.
Now it’s your turn. Many men are also changing and walking along with you, and
you’ll be surprised how many good people are out there for each of the idiots
you will still find along your path.”
Francisco says that he has been shaped by
fishers and fisheries; that they allowed him to educate himself, help his
family, make friends, and work in places he’d never heard of.
“I love fisheries, and fisheries are
people, for good and for bad, and they cannot and should not be separated. My
favourite Māori proverb or whakataukī
is something I appreciate more as I get older. It goes: He aha te mea nui o
te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
“What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.”
The fourteenth regular session of the Northern Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) finishes up Friday, 7 September, after three days of meetings in Fukuoka, Japan.
The committee has been considering a draft conservation management measure for a Pacific bluefin tuna catch documentation scheme. General goals for tuna management were already outlined at the committee’s December meeting in Manila, the Philippines. These included keeping WCPFC members’ total fishing effort in the area north of the 20th parallel below the 2002-2004 annual average catch levels; and keeping total catch of Pacific bluefin tuna weighing less than 30 kilograms at less than 50 percent of the 2002-2004 annual average levels. The proposal calls for any overage of the catch limit to be deducted from the country’s catch limit for the following year.
In order to achieve these goals, the establishment of conservation management measures was promoted, with certain requirements, with the prerequisite that members will cooperate to establish a catch documentation scheme to be applied to Pacific bluefin tuna; and that members would also take measures to strengthen monitoring and data collecting system for Pacific bluefin tuna fisheries and farming in order to improve the data quality and timeliness of data reporting.
The goal of the CDS is to make it difficult to sell illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fish, as they would lack the necessary paper (or electronic) trail. A major point to be decided is whether the CDS would be paper-based or electronic. Other questions to be debated include whether the documents should be validated and by whom, and whether there should be an exemption for artisanal and recreational fisheries.
During its meeting, the WCPFC will also investigate the systems used by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).
In a move to enhance tuna fisheries management in the Pacific, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) committed NZD 4.9million to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) yesterday.
This funding will be used by FFA to support a project that will establish and enhance catch documentation schemes (CDS) for FFA members over the next five years. The new Grant Funding Agreement was signed by Fletcher Tabuteau, Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, New Zealand and FFA Deputy Director General, Matthew Hooper.
“FFA Members work collectively to effectively manage their Pacific tuna fisheries, and this project will support members to access high value export markets while tackling illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing” said Mr Hooper on accepting the funding support.
The project aims to ensure FFA’s Pacific Island members maintain market access for their fishery products, by improving traceability along supply chains through the integration of fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance systems, the implementation of electronic reporting and the development of technological solutions to strengthen national capacity.
The project provides support for the development of national and regional CDS frameworks, national regulatory and policy frameworks and the development of CDS tools and associated training and capacity building.
The agreement follows almost two years of preparation and builds on work being undertaken to strengthen port state measures in the Pacific and complementing the existing comprehensive regional monitoring, control and surveillance framework implemented by FFA members.
About Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
FFA was established to help their 17 member countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). FFA is an advisory body providing expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management through agencies such as the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). www.ffa.int
One of key issues we found when talking about CDS is a limited understanding of the “roles” of each type of state in the CDS picture in particular, but also in the MCS in general. Since country-specific mechanisms are often essential for verifying and corroborating submitted data, enhancing monitoring functions and identifying and sanctioning fraudulent transactions. (And is also a good proxy on why a “single country CDS” would hardly ever have a substantial impact on multi-state value chains)
The state types involved in fishing, landing, processing and trade of fisheries products along the supply chain are “fixed” and each type of state carries out functions that contribute to the success of the CDS:
Flag state. This is the state whose flag is flown by fishing vessels, whose activities it is obliged to authorize and to monitor under international law. In international fisheries targeting species under the management of an RFMO, flag states also have reporting obligations to the international body as to the activities and catches of their fleet(s). Oversight by the flag state covers harvesting, transhipment and landing operations, the latter typically regarded as the last transaction related to fishing. The flag state is crucial in a CDS in that it validates catch certificates for catches harvested during fishing trips deemed by the flag state to have been conducted legally.
Coastal state. This is the state in whose waters a fishing operation may be taking place, in which case the coastal state must provide the necessary oversight to ensure that foreign vessels entering its waters are authorized to operate, and report operations and catches to relevant coastal state authorities. Coastal states currently have no statutory role in existing unilateral and multilateral CDS.
Port state. This is the state in whose port(s) fish are landed. The port state has a legal obligation under the PSMA to ensure that only legal fish are landed by carrying out rigorous in-port inspections of vessels flying a flag other than that of the port state and voluntarily entering its ports to land fish. The port state is crucial in ensuring that catch to be landed from a CDS-managed fishery are covered by valid catch certificates at the time of landing.
Processing state. This is the state in which raw products are converted into semiprocessed products or end products. The processing state may be the same as the port state, but fisheries products for processing may enter the processing state by sea, air or land. Processing states are important in CDS systems in terms of ensuring that non-certified fishery products are not imported, processed or certified for export or re-export. The “laundering” of fisheries products into legally certified supply streams occurs mostly at this level.
End-market state. This is the territory in which final consumer products are placed on the market, acquired by customers and consumed, often after importation. In a CDS the action of the end-market state is limited to ensuring that non-certified products cannot gain access to its consumer markets – a crucial final element in guaranteeing the success of a CDS.
The illustration above shows a standardized supply chain with the segments covered or controlled by the various state types. It is clear that few operations or CTEs (Critical Tracking Events) along the supply chain are under the exclusive purview of a single state type and that a large number of operations fall under the purview of different state types along the supply chain. The flag state, for example, will (or at least should!) oversee transhipments and landings, but so will the port state when these do take place in a port, and sometimes the coastal state is involved in oversight of transhipments in its EEZ.
Yet is really important to understand, that a single country can act as a few or as all of the state types at once, and at different levels of involvement.
In the Tuna world, a country like PNG for example, is at once a important flag, coastal, port and processing state, and in a lesser level a market state. Countries like Nauru or Tukelau are only coastal states, Thailand is the ultimate example of a processing state, Taiwan and China (even if it brings some fish back to its ports) are examples of major flag states, finally the EU and the US, that dependes substantially on imports, are major End-Market States, even if they have their own fleet, ports and processors.
This multiplicity of roles is important, since from the seafood traded internationally; 61% originates in developing countries and 85% of it is destined for developed countries. The current internationally integrated seafood value chains show that for most products many different administrations may be involved from catch to consumer.