Safety of Pacific fisheries observers must be improved – PNA

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Republished from Radio New Zealand, 1 February 2019

The head of the Parties to Nauru Agreement says the safety of Pacific fisheries observers working on foreign vessels must be improved.

Fisheries observers monitor tuna catches onboard purse seiners as well as in-port trans-shipment, which provides important data for fisheries managers. Credit: Hilary Hosia

Over the past year a number of observers have been lost at sea and Ludwig Kumoru said more needed to be done to keep them safe.

Mr Kumoru said industry leaders agreed at a recent meeting to look at protecting observers and crews better.

“For the PNA, we have lost a couple of observers – PNG, Kiribati. One thing that we have done now under FFA is to push this thing for observer safe – what is the responsibility of the fishing boats when it comes to the welfare of the observer.

“When they are on the boat or when they get off – the countries. What is their responsibility to the observer? How are they going to be paid if something goes wrong with these observers.”

Last year East Sepik Governor Allan Bird told the Papua New Guinea Parliament that 18 local observers had disappeared at sea without a trace.

He called on the government to look into the cases because the men’s families deserved to know what happened to their loved ones.