The European Union says its new funding agreement with marine agencies in the Pacific will help prevent fish laundering in the region.
The EU, along with Sweden, has pledged $US52 million to working with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community, the Regional Environment Programme and the University of the South Pacific over the next five years.
Christopher Wagner of the EU delegation for the Pacific said illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is theft and tighter rules are essential.
Mr Wagner said much of the fish caught in Pacific waters is transferred from one ship to another and up to eighty percent of it is processed in Asian countries.
“What we are supporting through this programme is to develop new technologies and monitoring, for example drones, we are also working through the FFA (Forum Fisheries Association) with the countries to look more at trans-shipments. For example many of these days, you know that term money laundering, and there’s also something called fish laundering,” Christopher Wagner said.
Mr Wagner said some of the funding will go towards better regulation of illegal catches passing through Pacific ports, with more prosecutions and higher fines.
He said coastal fisheries management, marine science and biodiversity projects will also receive a boost from the funding which was announced at last week’s Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru.
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).
Australia has played host to an international team as part of a wide operation against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the high seas of the Pacific Ocean, its Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has said.
Over four weeks, AFMA hosted representatives from Australia’s Maritime Border Command; the New Zealand ministry for primary industries; the US Coast Guard; the French ministere des armées; and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) as part of “operation Nasse”.
The participating nations, all members of the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group, worked together to coordinate at-sea inspections, aerial surveillance, and maritime intelligence sharing.
The operation successfully demonstrated Australia’s ability to coordinate aircraft and surface patrol boats from all four countries, to monitor fishing operations and target IUU fishing on the high seas.
34 fishing vessels inspected, with 27 suspected violations identified, which have been reported to the relevant flag states for action, said AFMA. The operation was focused on tuna, and violations of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission rules.
Reaping greater economic benefit from regional fisheries is expected to be high on the agenda at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ summit in Nauru this week.
Increasing the yield of the Western and Central Pacific tuna fishery shows the greatest potential for growth.
The Pacific tuna fishery provides 60 percent of the global catch with around two-thirds of it coming from Forum countries’ waters.
The Forum Fisheries Agency, or FFA, reports positive economic growth figures within these fisheries.
However, Pacific stakeholders say more can be done.
FFA figures show two-thirds of the catch is taken by foreign vessels and as much as 90 percent of the fish is processed overseas.
A joint regional taskforce has been set up to tackle these areas and extract more value through longline fishery reform and value chain participation.
Increasing ways to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will also be a focus and one that underpins the new regional security framework, the Biketawa Plus, which may be ratified on Nauru.
Covering 16.5 million square kilometres over 10 days with 10 FFA member states, Operation Island Chief found no infringements or breaches
A ten-day annual operation to detect, deter, report and/or apprehend potential illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing activity ended on August 3. Operation Island Chief involved ten FFA member nations- Fiji, FSM, Kiribati, Palau, PNG, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, and the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (QUADs) – Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States.
Regional surveillance operations such as Operation Island Chief involve hundreds of personnel from across the region, with joint coordination led by the FFA’s Regional Fisheries and Surveillance Centre (RFSC) team. Fisheries, Police Maritime Units and Navy officers of FFA members participated as watch-keepers joining the RFSC team for around the clock shifts during the Operation, with their primary task being to monitor and analyse the Regional Surveillance picture and all incoming data from the QUAD surveillance providers.
Operation Island Chief 2018 (OPIC18) covered more than 16.5 million square kilometres of ocean and found no infringements or breaches.
Chief of Staff – Petty Officer Waisake Tikoduadua from Fiji said “As Chief of Staff for OPIC18 first, I have to know watch keepers very well and make sure that they are well organized in their watch and shift. Also to ensure daily briefs are prepared during the operation. I thank everyone for the great team work for OPIC18 and I am looking forward to work with FFA in future operations.”
OPIC18 is the third of four Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) led monitoring, control and surveillance operations each year. It involved patrol boats from Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, as well as aircrafts from Australia and the United States, who offered their defence and military assets to support regional surveillance. A total of approximately 50 days at sea and 110 hours of air time was undertaken during OPIC18.
“As always we are thankful for the level of cooperation, commitment and engagement by our members and QUAD partners in safeguarding the Pacific fishery from Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported activity” said FFA Director General, James Movick.
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
The 15th Infofish World Tuna Trade Conference and Exhibition opened on 28 May in Bangkok, Thailand. The three-day conference covered resources, fisheries management, markets, new technologies, food safety, sustainability, and environmental issues.
Among the sponsors was the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Jong-Jin Kim, FAO’s deputy regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said during his opening address that the international community now has at its disposal a number of new and powerful instruments with the potential to drastically reduce and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, including the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Catch Documentation Schemes and the FAO Global Record of Fishing Vessels.
FAO Fishery Planning Analyst for Asia and the Pacific Cassandra De Young explained the various programs to SeafoodSource.
The 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) is the first binding international agreement to specifically target IUU fishing. Its objective is to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches. Entering into force in June 2016, 54 States and the European Union have joined forces by becoming Parties to the PSMA, as of May 2018.
FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Catch Documentation Schemes were officially adopted by the FAO Conference in July 2017 and, with seafood trade at record highs and consumer demand still rising, CDS are increasingly seen as an effective tool. For example, since 2010, the European Union has used a CDS that covers all fish shipments imported into the bloc from overseas; and in 2016, the United States announced its own scheme, the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). In 2017, ASEAN adopted the voluntary ASEAN Catch Documentation Scheme for Marine Capture Fisheries to enhance intra-regional and international trade of fish and fish products.
“The FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Catch Documentation Schemes is the first international policy document that provides a ‘gold standard’ for governments and businesses looking to establish systems that can trace fish from their point of capture through the entire supply chain – from ‘sea to plate’ – in order to stop illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace,” De Young said.
The Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels (the Global Record) is a collaborative, global initiative to make available, in a rapid way, certified data from State authorities about vessels and vessel-related activities. The Global Record provides a single access point for information on vessels used for fishing and fishing-related activities with the primary objective being to combat IUU fishing by enhancing transparency and traceability.
Key to the Global Record, De Young said, is the Unique Vessel Identifier (UVI) – a global unique number that is assigned to a vessel to ensure traceability through reliable, verified, and permanent identification of the vessel. Once assigned, the UVI is with the vessel for its entire life, regardless of changes in flag, ownership, or name. To date, IMO numbers have been allocated to more than 23,000 fishing vessels worldwide. Countries are closing the net on IUU fishing as countries around the globe, De Young said, calling out Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, Thailand, the United States of America, Vanuatu and the European Union member states for praise, as all have started disseminating their data through the Global Record Information System. Launched in April, 2017, the Global Record initially includes larger vessels (100 gross tonnage, or 24 meters and above) but aims, over time, to include official information on vessels all the way to 10-50 GT or between 12 and 18 meters.
Japan is the second-largest contributor to the FAO’s budget. Keiko Okabe, a communication specialist at the FAO’s Japan Liaison Office, said FAO’s leading initiatives in Japan including implementation of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and zero hunger initiatives funded by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF).
“The FAO, as a whole, has been implementing a project in supporting developing countries to achieve sustainable fisheries, and to eliminate IUU, which is funded by MAFF,” Okabe told SeafoodSource.
The south central province of Phu Yen is taking urgent measures to curb illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities, as part of the national effort to tackle the European Commission’s IUU yellow card.
Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Huu The said educational campaigns are an important measure to enhance local fishermen’s awareness about IUU.
The province will intensify inspections of fishing activities at sea and in ports, take strict punishment against violations of regulations on fishing and ship registrations and management.
According to Nguyen Tri Phuong, deputy head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, fishery inspectors have coordinated with the border guard force to keep watch on fishing boats, inspect ships’ records on fishing, and issue certifications for origins of seafood.
Phu Yen is working on a fishing database which will integrate information on local fishing boats, the registration and licensing of fishing vessels, fishing sector’s labour and activities of local fishing ports.
The provincial border guard force has undertaken measures to curb illegal fishing in foreign waters, such as monitoring vessels’ activities, keeping close contact with fishing boats at sea and encouraging vessels’ owners and captains to sign commitments not to violating other countries’ waters.
Vietnam received a “yellow-card” from the European Commission (EC) because of its failure to meet standards over IUU fishing last year, and the country has been offered the opportunity to take measures to rectify the situation within six months.
The EU will assess Vietnam’s efforts to fight IUU fishing in April.
The “yellow card” is followed by a “green card” if issues are resolved or a “red card” if they are not. A “red card” can lead to a trade ban on fishery products.
On December 13, 2017, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued Directive 45/CT-TTg on some urgent tasks and solutions following the EC’s warning.
Many coastal localities of Vietnam have also taken actions to end IUU fishing.
The additional patrol boat to Palau from Nippon and Sasakawa Foundation is being hailed as a boost in the fight against illegal fishing in the island-nation.
The new patrol boat, PSS Kedam also amplifies Palau’s national marine sanctuary law- a signature policy of the government that will ban commercial fishing in its 193,000 square miles of its exclusive economic zone by 2020.
The PSS Kedam is named after the Great Frigate Bird of Palau, a sea bird that is the largest bird found in Palau.
“Today is a proud day for Palau, a proud day for law enforcement and the grand responsibility of safeguarding our constitutional borders surrounded by vast oceans. Today is a proud day, for the fruits of friendship and partnership between public sector and the private sector,” Palau President Tommy Remenegsu Jr. said during the handover ceremony in Palau on Feb. 13.
The Nippon Foundation at a cost of over $30 million funds the new patrol boat Kedam .
The 40-meter patrol boat is also part of the grant assistance from the Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation on the 10-year $70 million assistance provided by the two foundations referred to as the Support to Enhance Coast Guard Capabilities and Promote Eco-conscious Tourism in Palau.
The Nippon Foundation also provided new berth and the administration building, while the Sasakawa Peace Foundation provided capacity training and salary for the crew for 10 years.
A signed memorandum of understanding in 2016 with Palau government stated that the Nippon Foundation will provide financial support to cover fuel and maintenance cost for the vessel until the end of Japanese fiscal year 2027, and for the boat until the end of Japanese fiscal year 2026.
The Sasakawa Peace Foundation will fund employment of crews to operate the medium-sized patrol vessel, including the training of those crews, which will be conducted by the Japanese partner organizations until the end of Japanese fiscal year 2027. Before PSS Kedam,
Palau only has one patrol boat- PSS H.I Remeliik, which is 31.5-meter (104ft). Remeliik is Palau’s first patrol board donated by the Australian government. PSS Remeliik is due to be replaced by Australia by 2020.
Remenegsau said Kedam and Remeliik will help patrol its ocean and assist tackling the challenge of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
“We are one percent land, and 99 percent ocean. And that means, we are indeed a large ocean state, and ocean is everything to us. It is our food security, it is our economic security, it is our cultural and social security, for it is our way of life.”
“Unfortunately, we are visited by problems not of our own making, but of signs and mankind, one of them, being the challenging part of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Today’s ceremony, activities and purpose will go a long way to assist Palau in tackling this important challenge,” he added. Palau has caught in their waters poachers from Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Vice President and Minister of Justice Raynold Oilouch said the Nippon Foundation included in their donation three smaller patrol boats; a high speed inflatable boat, a pick-up truck and satellite communication facilities.
“Palau now has one of the most state of the art surveillance and enforcement operations in the entire region, coupled with the latest technology and satellite surveillance and aircraft reconnaissance, Palau will now be able to effectively and efficiently monitor and enforce our exclusive economic zone against illegal fishing, drug and human trafficking, and increase our abilities for search and rescue for missing vessels and people,” Oilouch stated during the hand over ceremony.
Mitsuyuki Unno Executive Director of Nippon Foundation sin his remarks said the partnership with Palau is due to a shared common concern to protect the world’s oceans.
“For years, the Nippon Foundation has been working to make the world’s ocean sustainable. however, to address the diverse challenges that confront our oceans, there needs to be a new global ocean regime that transcends country borders, institutions, and specializations. and to pass on a bountiful ocean to future generations, we need to work together to develop a global vision for the next millennium,” Unno said.
A civilian aerial surveillance service has begun across the Central and Western Pacific region as part of the Australian Government’s $2 billion Pacific Maritime Security Program.
When fully implemented, the Pacific Maritime Surveillance Program Aerial Surveillance will provide up to 1,400 hours of aerial surveillance each year across the Central and Western Pacific through two dedicated long-range aircraft based in the region. The surveillance, in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat program will provide targeted maritime patrolling and enhance the ability of Pacific Island Countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as illegal fishing and transnational crime.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the protection of oceans and regional resources is vital for all Pacific Island Forum countries and Australia.
“The Pacific Maritime Security Program is an important investment in regional security. Australia is committed to further strengthening the capabilities of Pacific Island countries so we can work together in support of our shared interests,” Minister Payne said.
“I reiterated this commitment with my Pacific counterparts on my visits to Papua New Guinea and Fiji and at the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Auckland last year. I’m very pleased to see the aerial surveillance aspect of the Program get underway,” she said.
The introduction of this new capability, and the Government’s commitment to providing this support for the next 30 years, is fundamentally changing the way the Pacific region identifies and responds to maritime security threats. For the first time, Pacific countries will have access to surveillance information 365 days per year to support intelligence-targeted patrolling and protection of their resources.
The $10 million aerial surveillance service is fully funded by the Department of Defence. Aircraft tasking will be coordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). The inaugural flight occurred out of Micronesia in December 2017.
As the only regional surveillance centre in the Pacific, the FFA is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the platform and facilitating communication with regional maritime law enforcement agencies.
Defence has engaged Technology Service Corporation (TSC) to provide the aerial surveillance service. TSC has previously provided aerial surveillance support to the Pacific region through the FFA in its largest annual surveillance operation.
The Pacific Maritime Security Program is the centrepiece of Australia’s defence engagement in the Pacific and affirms Australia’s commitment to assist Pacific Island Countries combat a wide range of maritime security threats within the region.