Effective surveillance on IUU fishing a challenge

FIJI’S Maritime Safety Authority (MSAF) says there’s a lack of enforcement on current national laws and international agreements to deal with illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Chief Executive John Tunidau said this goes with the lack of resources both in terms of assets for patrolling and resources including surveillance boats and trained human resources.

While presenting MSAF’s submission to the standing committee on Port state control measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing, Tunidau said effective surveillance remains a challenge for states like Fiji with a large Exclusive Economic Zone.

“So how we effectively monitor. What are the systems available and in fact I know Fiji Navy monitors ships that have Automated Identification System but this is only ships registered with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. What about other ships. It’s not covered. It’s only when they’re fitted with this can we monitor effectively.”

Mr Tunidau says IUU fishing cannot be tackled by a state alone as it needs a united front.

He said there needs to be a collaboration of resources, sharing and communication of information on IUU to effectively tackle the issue of IUU fishing.

Meanwhile, 53 parties are included in the United Nations Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) Port State Measures (UNFAO PSMA) Agreement as of February this year.

This was highlighted by Solander Pacific Limited general manager Radhika Kumar while presenting submissions to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on the review of the agreement on the (PSMA) and eliminate illegal unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in Suva earlier today.

Kumar said if Fiji acceded to the agreement, the only neighboring countries not committed would be the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

“Vanuatu was the recent one to accede to the agreement. To prevent the establishment of ‘Ports of Convenience’, these countries should also be encouraged to accede to the agreement and thus provide regional solidarity,” Ms Kumar said.

“The following countries in our region that have acceded to the agreement are Australia, New Zealand, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu.”