Management of observers and compliance in the WCPO
Observersâ€™ work managed through linked regional and national programs
TheÂ Regional Observer ProgrammeÂ (ROP) was developed by theÂ Western and Central Pacific Fisheries CommissionÂ (WCPFC). It builds on national, sub-regional and regional observer programs that were already in place.
The WCPFC assesses the results of the ROP. It periodically collects and reviews data submitted as part of the program. Based on these, it amends the program and the various sets of rules that the ROP is based on. It also maintains guidelines on requirements for the ROP. changes. The commission is responsible for making sure confidential data is kept secure. To administer the Regional Observer Programme, the WCPFC:
- maintains the program manual and observer workbook
- coordinates activities with other programs
- monitors trainers and courses to maintain standards
- makes sure other programs meetÂ ROPÂ standards
- makes sure the correct information is collected, stored, and sent out
- authorises observers
- reports annually on the program.
To be part of the WCPFCÂ ROP, other programs need to be audited and authorised by the secretariat.
The commission publishes standards for setting up and running observer programmes.Â WCPFC Regional Observer Programme standards and guidelinesÂ (896.79 KB)Â were updated for 2019. The commission also publishes a list ofÂ providers and coordinators for observersÂ (also updated for 2019).
Compliance is managed by regional organisations
TheÂ Western and Central Pacific Fisheries CommissionÂ (WCFPC) sets rules for managing fishing in exclusive economic zones of Pacific nations and on the high seas, and for combatting problems such as IUU fishing, too many fleets in operation, and bycatch. It authorises, monitors, and keeps records of compliance with the rules, which are described inÂ conservation and management measuresÂ (CMMs). There are at least 16 CMMs that cover all aspects of fishing for tuna, protecting them as a resource that can be fished in the future, and protecting marine environments.
Records of meetings, proceedings, reports of the Technical and Compliance CommitteeÂ are on the WCPFC website.
TheÂ Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries AgencyÂ (FFA) provides monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) policy and services to its members. They are based on the MCS strategy that members developed. This is to build national capacity and regional solidarity so that the Pacific Island states can effectively manage fishing in the region, including illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The agency is a regional leader in combatting IUU fishing, and has funded two studies into reducing the incidence of it. The 2016 study showed that unreported fishing (e.g. via incorrect documentation on the catch) is the worst of the three in the WCPO. The 2021 follow-up study refines the information collected in the first, and recommends improvements in the MCS strategy to encourage fishers to comply with WCPO rules.
FFAâ€™s support of compliance in the region includes:
- the operation of the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre, which is the centre of regional surveillance operations
- coordination of regional surveillance operations
- providing technical expertise, training and support
- sharing information and running projects that support monitoring activities
- FFA Observer Program
- FFA Vessel Monitoring System
- FFA licence information list.
TheÂ Oceanic Fisheries ProgrammeÂ (OFP) of the Pacific Community (SPC) is the regional centre for research on tuna fisheries, fishery monitoring, assessments of tuna numbers and health, and data management. This information helps the Pacific Island states to carry out compliance operations.
OFP also aims to build regional and national capacity in the monitoring, control and surveillance of regional tuna fisheries, with the aim of eliminating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
PNA members use FIMS to manage fisheries and compliance
Members of the Parties to the Nauru AgreementÂ use the web-basedÂ Fisheries Information Management SystemÂ (FIMS) to manage fishing by domestic and foreign vessels in their waters. Before they used FIMS, vessels had to submit catch data by email or fax. PNA calls FIMS a one-stop shop for fisheries management.Â The systemÂ integrates numerous management operationsÂ such as vessel registration, catch documentation, electronic and human observation, the Vessel Day Scheme, audits and traceability, compliance, and reports. Reports can be submitted in near real time.
The system was pioneered by Papua New Guinea, and is being extended to other countries.