Pacific fisheries officials step up vessel monitoring skills

FFA HQ, Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS –Pacific Fisheries officers at the frontline of protecting the region’s fish stocks have just completed a week’s training in Honiara, Solomon Islands, gaining new skills and awareness to support their work.

Fifteen FFA member delegates monitoring fishing vessels in their national exclusive economic zones have developed their understanding of fisheries laws, agreements, and surveillance and information tools. Their training took its cue from the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), tracking fishing vessels in the region via satellite transponders.  VMS officers are at the forefront of detecting and deterring IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing.

FFA Director-General, James Movick says the training program, held in Australia in previous years, will benefit from its move to the FFA Secretariat in the Solomon Islands.

“Hosting this year’s VMS Training event at the regional fisheries agency allows all participants more direct contact with FFA staff based in Honiara who are working for our member countries,” he says.

“Whether it’s seeing how their national data brings the regional surveillance centre to life, or being able to work with web-based MCS tool such as the Google Earth based ‘Regional Surveillance Picture’, it’s pleasing to have the opportunity for a broader range of technical advice and feedback to support the training,” he says.

Managing national and regional information security and addressing confidentiality issues are also on the agenda. Participants will also learn about the region’s high-tech FFA Fisheries Surveillance Centre, or RFSC and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Fisheries Information Management System for monitoring the Vessel Day Scheme, or VDS.

Keeping a closer watch on who is fishing where in the Pacific is becoming more sophisticated as Pacific governments try to keep a step ahead of those poaching from its tuna-rich waters.  For this reason, participants are expected to also benefit from hands-on practical exercises during the workshop aimed at helping them identify and follow through on potential infringements, says Movick. -ENDS