Observers are trained officers placed on fishing vessels in the dual role of data collectors and reporters on compliance issues. Tuvalu’s Observer Programme is an important part of the social and economic role of fisheries in Tuvalu, implementing the provisions of the Marine Resources Act and other legislation, and meeting our international obligations with regard to managing the region’s shared tuna resources. Observers are part of our fishery licensing, data collection and monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) systems for vessels fishing in Tuvalu waters. They are an important part of ensuring compliance with licence conditions, and in deterring, detecting and penalising illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
With 20 new observers were recruited this year, Tuvalu now has 68 trained observers who can be deployed on licensed vessels. Seventeen of the new observers were trained by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) trainer, Siosifa Fukofuka, Manoi Kutan and Glen English. The remaining 3 were trained in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. One of these 20 recruits was a young woman and this was the first woman in Tuvalu to be an observer.
The training took 5 weeks, with tests given on many days during that time. The students then went on to do sea safety training for 2 weeks at the Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute (TMTI).
Recruiting observers is another way of helping Tuvaluan citizens, and particularly school leavers, to obtain jobs in order to support their families and their country.