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:
· Improve managing the PS and LL Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) and other bilateral Licensing arrangements in place with other gears (LL, PL, BU and other support vessels) ;
· To complete all outstanding work required to rectify the EU IUU yellow card;
· Improve Monitoring, Control & Surveillance (MCS) of foreign fishing vessels (FFV) activities in Tuvalu’s Fishery waters;
· Improve management of the National Observer Programme through implementing activities recommended by the review work carried out in 2017;
· Improve monitoring of transhipment activities in Tuvalu’s designated port of Funafuti;
· Improve collection and dissemination of Tuna fishing data to SPC and WCPFC;
· To fully comply and implement Tuvalu’s reporting obligation under WCPFC (Part 1 & 2) ;
· Promoting HRD plan through attending Internal and external capacity building courses to enhance staff’s capacity; and
. Provide technical training and awareness programme to all stakeholders involved in MCS work.
A key priority activity for this year is research on historical patterns of longline fishing to ensure that Tuvalu is in a position to implement the LL VDS in 2019. A further priority is to enhancing the capacity of Oceanic staff to ensure they can contribute constructively to implementing all the activities in the work plan for 2018. The focus is to enhance the capability and knowledge for the staff to be able to keep up with the ever changing and improvement of the fishing industries in their quest to harvest our fisheries resources.
In terms of MCS, the battle with IUU activity is never ending and with the emerging technologies and new ways to harvest our resources, it is very important to keep building the capacity of this section to be able to enforce our laws and improve compliance.
Enforcement and Compliance activities require close collaboration with the Maritime Wing of the Tuvalu Police Department, Attorney-General’s Office and other Government agencies involved in maritime law enforcement. With the increase in donor funding at our disposal, there is an opportunity to meet the need to increase coverage of surface patrol operations to the EEZ to deter IUU activities. This will in turn address concerns of the EU on the lack of patrol and prosecution of illegal fishing activities in Tuvalu in recent years.
The Tuvalu National Observer Programme (TVNOP), managed under the Oceanic section, has grown in the past few years. A full operational review and performance audit of the program was successfully undertaken in 2017 by a consultant under PROP funding. The review made several recommendations on restructuring of the TVNOP to ensure that the Observer Programme operates with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Now there are 79 active observers, among them 14 certified debriefers and 12 trainee debriefers. Also in this pool of observers there are 61 Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified observers that can undertake MSC trips on Purse Seine vessels. The review work recommended the department recruit additional staff to assist the observer coordinator in managing the observer program. The TFD wil seek approval for implementation of these changes in 2018.
Several other activities, including participation in regional Surveillance operations, support to regional aerial surveillance over-flights, engagement in ship-rider programmes operated by QUAD (US, NZ, AUS & FR) 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.
Removal of the EU card also falls under the priority work of this section and a work in progress. This include the work of reviewing of our national fisheries laws, which was completed in December 2017, and our national plan of action on illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.