Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre world class in compliance
Monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) has been conducted in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean tuna fisheries for 40 years.
The world-class Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC) uses cutting-edge technology to provide up-to-the-minute information on fishing vessel movements and operations. It combines data from different sources into an interactive map called the regional surveillance picture and conveys it to the 17 member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) to help them manage compliance with fishing rules in their territorial waters. The RFSC is the centrepiece of the several regional surveillance operations that FFA coordinates every year.
Fisheries information is stored in the secure databases of the Regional Information Management Facility of the RFSC. The centre also helps coordinate regional MCS operations and carry out analysis of the information obtained from the surveillance picture with other data sets (e.g. log sheets and observer reports) to analyse the information streams for anomalies.
The FFA’s Vessel Monitoring System allows FFA members to track and monitor fishing activities across the region.
At work in the high-tech operations room at the RFSC. Photo: FFA.
Work and training of observers guided by best practice
The work of observers is based on and supported by numerous manuals and guidelines developed and published by regional organisations. These help to ensure work is done consistently, in line with national and regional rules, and to inform best practice in observation and compliance. Other organisations such as the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) publish best-practice information that applies to the tuna fisheries of all oceans.
- The WCPFC provides a handbook on WCPFC conservation and management measures (CMMs) and resolutions that apply to observers. It maintains a library of other WCPFC documents useful to official observers.
- WCPFC has published minimum standards for all aspects of the Regional Observer Programme
- In 2018, the ISSF published minimum standards needed to collect good data using electronic monitoring in purse seine fishing for tropical tuna. The standards are intended to be audited so that programmes can demonstrate best practice.
- ISSF has also published a guidebook in 10 languages on the training for observers on purse seine vessels. The guide describes the suggested best practices related to the work of the purse seine observer.
- ISSF describes best practices in collecting information in the tropical tuna purse-seine The practices are in line with Marine Stewardship Council standards.
- ISSF has also published a Survey of human observer programs for purse-seine vessels and a set of best practices.
- In 2015, the Association for Professional Observerspublished best-practice guidelines for observer programmes. It contains a bill of rights on the health and safety of observers. It also covers codes of conduct, and welfare, professionalism, terms of employment, health, safety, wages, professional development, and the responsibilities of observers and stakeholders.