October 10, 2015: We are heartbroken to be missing Keith Davis, an international observer and former board member of the Association for Professional Observers. Keith, a resident of Arizona, United States, was reported missing a month ago, September 10, 2015 from an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Transshipment Observer Program assignment approximately 500 miles off of Peru. He was employed by MRAG Americas. The vessel was the Victoria No. 168, a Taiwanese operated, Panama-flagged transshipment vessel, owned by a company in Panama but tied to a fishing company in Taiwan, Gilontas Ocean Group. They were transporting fish from a Taiwanese-owned, Vanuatu-flagged longline vessel, the Chung Kuo No. 818. There are many questions that have remained unanswered and to this day both these vessels are in operation as if nothing happened. Because the Victoria No. 168 was flagged in Panama, the Panamanian government was in charge of the investigation, with the US investigators attending.
August, 2016: The case was closed by Panama with not even a report and remains open by the FBI with no further information.
Keith was a staunch advocate for observer professionalism, rights, safety and welfare and it is hard to encapsulate all that he did for observers and the way he did it. His reach was far and wide and touched many hearts with his passion for, not only observer rights, but also for being a good human being and enjoying life. He and a handful of his observer colleagues developed the Observer Bill of Rights at the International Fisheries Observer Conference (IFOC) in 2000 and he has been integrally involved in making sure the observer perspective was realized at this conference ever since. In 2006, Keith began tirelessly coordinating the Observer Professionalism Working Group at the 4th IFOC and produced several outputs from this effort. His presence at this conference will be impossible to fill, though we will try to carry the torch. If it weren't for Keith, the observers' perspective would surely have been usurped by industry and agency perspectives and observes would remain an obscure and under-represented profession. Keith was integral in developing the International Observer Bill of Rights, which was presented in 2013 at the 7th IFOMC.
Keith was also faithful to the APO and its purpose. Much of his work as a board member is highlighted by the extensive information in the contents of these pages here and later editions of our newsletter, the Mail Buoy, which probably wouldn't have occurred if it weren't for him. We are shocked and saddened by his disappearance but persevere none the less. Though information was sparse, we presented a poster and compiled the available information at the 8th IFOMC. Since Keith's disappearance, four other observers have either died under suspicious circumstances or disappeared.
Please consider donating to the private investigation into his disappearance. Thank you.