The Oceanic Fisheries Division oversees the effective monitoring, control and management of industrial tuna fisheries in Tuvalu’s fishery waters. Mindful of the significance of this fishery in terms of its social and economic benefits, the Division focuses its work programme on the following activities:
· Management of the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) for the Tuna purse seine fisheries;
· Licensing of bilateral LL Fleet and other vessel gears
· Managing and expanding the national observer programme;
· Collection of data on tuna fishing and transhipment activities in Tuvalu’s waters;
· Monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of foreign fishing vessels (FFV) in Tuvalu’s waters;
· Fulfilling Tuvalu’s reporting obligation to the WCPFC;
· Internal and external capacity building training to enhance staff capacity;
· Provide training to all stakeholders involved in MCS work and awareness programme
MCS activities require close collaboration with the Maritime Wing of the Tuvalu Police Department (which operates the patrol boat Mataili), the Attorney-General’s Office, and other government agencies involved in maritime law enforcement.
The Oceanic Division manages the Tuvalu Fishery Observer Programme, which currently draws from a pool of 34 trained observers. This pool, which is expected to increase in the future, places significant management challenges on the Division. A full operational review and performance audit is planned for 2015 to ensure that the Observer Programme operates with maximum efficiency and effectiveness in the future. One issue that will be assessed is a possible mechanism through which trained fishery observers could assist with the work of the Coastal Fisheries Division when not engaged in work for the Oceanic Fisheries Division.
Some of the Oceanic Division’s activities are ongoing or routine, such as renewal of licence and access agreements, updating licence lists, observer deployment and management, data entry, etc. However a number of milestone tasks for 2015 are identified in table 2 overleaf.
Several other activities, including participation in regional MCS activities, support to regional aerial surveillance over-flights, engagement in ship-rider programmes operated by US Coastguard vessels, and transhipment monitoring in Funafuti lagoon will be carried out opportunistically but cannot be included in the work programme as dates are unknown at this stage.