Observer Safety Measures - WCPFC


OBSERVER SAFETY MEASURES: The WCPFC has made several advances on observer safety since 2015. WCPFC12, Bali, Indonesia, 3-8 December 2015: Specific safety equipment required by 1 January 2017. Summary Report of the WCPFC 12 . ALL REGIONAL OBSERVER PROGRAMMES MUST PROVIDE THEIR OBSERVERS WITH TWO WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICES AND A PERSONAL LOCATION BEACON, as described in Observer Safety Measures. In addition, each programme is required to have an Emergency Action Plan in the event that an observer alerts the program of a problem.

WCPFC13, Suva, Fiji, 5-9 December 2016: Specific actions are required by vessels and observer providers/programmes when an observer is either ill, harassed, or dies at sea. IMPLEMENTATION WAS REQUIRED BY 1 January 2017. The measure, WCPFC Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) 2016-03 was passed, but exempted Japan from implementing the measure. See the Summary Report of WCPFC 13 meeting, discussion under Agenda Item 5, pg. 14 and the actual measures in Attachment F, pg.146. These measures were based on a US proposal to the WCPFC instigated in part by the death of Usaia Masibalavu, a Fijian observer on board a US-flagged vessel. Mr. Masibalavu died while on board a US-flagged tuna purse seine vessel. To date, there has been no official explanation of Mr. Masibalavu's death.

At this same meeting, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) also weighed in with Harmonized Minimum Terms and Conditions for Access by Fishing Vessels, outlining their views on observer safety (based on amendments made in July 4, 2016).

WCPFC 14, Manilla, Philippines, 3-7 December 2017: There was a revision to WCPFC CMM 2016-03 when Japan had brought their national law to allow them to accommodate implementation of the measure. They deleted the footnote regarding the exception made for Japan (Footnote #1), replacing WCPFC CMM 2016-03 with CMM 2017-03 WCPFC 14. Although these measures were required to be implemented by 1 January 2017 by all vessels and observer providers under WCPFC jurisdiction, to date they have not been fully implemented. There doesn't appear to be any mechanism for the WCPFC to enforce the measure. Instead they conduct a review every 3-5 years with specific questions relating to each programme's implementation of the WCPFC Agreed Minimum Standards and Guidelines of the Regional Observer Programme. However, the entire process of implementation is neither transparent to observers nor the public. So far, we are hearing that Kiribati observers and some FFA observers are not receiving the safety equipment, nor are they made aware of the EAP process.

To date no observer safety measures have been adopted in the other Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO) observer programmes, though proposals are made every year. Sadly, an IATTC observer from Ecuador disappeared in 2018 and to date, there has been no official announcement.

Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission - IATTC; International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas - ICCAT; South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation -SPRFMO; Indian Ocean Tuna Commission - IOTC ; Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna - CCSBT; North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation - NAFO; Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources - CCAMLR. CCAMLR is not technically an RFMO but is managed similarly to other RFMOs with regard to its fisheries and observer programmes.

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