Uncertainty over protection of observers in new fishing measures

by Radio New Zealand | 15 December 2017 | News

 Republished from Radio New Zealand, 15 December 2017

There are questions over how the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission plans to support observers in its range of new sustainability measures.

 Tuna on the deck of a Pacific fishing vessel.

Tuna on the deck of a Pacific fishing vessel. Photo: RNZI/Giff Johnson


The Commission has announced the adoption of a new tropical tuna bridging measure and a number of conservation rules for fishing vessels.

But despite Pacific fishing observers being central to regional fisheries management, an advocate is frustrated at lack of action on harassment and abuse of observers.

There are ongoing complaints of abuse of observers while carrying out their work, and a number have mysteriously disappeared.

President of the Association for Professional Observers Liz Mitchell says it is unclear if the Commission plans to address these issues.

“I don’t know where you can go, where you can put pressure. They don’t have any obligation to follow the rules really. There’s no consequence…it’s just up to the individual states that need to pressured to implement laws that will be enforced. But that’s a long way off it seems.”