New Pacific report on illegal tuna fishing for frontline officials

A new major study is expected to present an accurate account of the scale of global illegal fisheries next week. Image: Straight Talking

The findings of a major study which will put accurate and up to date numbers to the nature and extent of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will be made public in New Zealand next week.

Pacific frontline officials in monitoring, control and surveillance work are attending a suite of MCS meetings in Auckland this month — at their working group meetings next week, they will be presented with findings of a major quantifying illegal (IUU) fisheries report two years in the making.

“This is the first time that the Pacific countries, through the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), have been in a position to determine the type and scope of such a review. As such it will help clear the air on previous claims made, and the sensational figures that are often quoted,” says FFA Director-General James Movick.

“More importantly, the study itself provides a clearer sense of what the main IUU risks are, what is working, and what needs additional priority when it comes to ensuring tuna vessels in Pacific waters are complying with the rules.

“The report will be useful to anyone and everyone with an interest in Pacific development and oceanic resources. It is not just for those interested in seeing how the authors arrived at the conclusions they reached.

“We anticipate that Pacific officials receiving the report will welcome the information and recommendations it provides,” says Movick.

“It’s all about having the best data to lock in better decisions and action for the future of Pacific fisheries. Of course, this is a highly complex issue and it will take detailed consideration and analysis to ensure that the results are viewed in the correct context.

Costs to the region
“Very importantly, this report will set a definitive baseline for the scale, composition and quantified value on IUU fishing and what it is costing this region, against which future success can be measured.

“It will also help to provide a clearer basis to assess what is working and what needs reworking to ensure that collective regional efforts are targeted toward the most prevalent and costly forms of IUU in the evolving Pacific tuna fishery.”

The report authors are the MRAG Asia Pacific, an independent fisheries and aquatic resource consulting company dedicated to the sustainable use of natural resources through sound, integrated management practices and policies.

Funding for the study came from the European Union-funded DEVFISH II project aimed at ensuring a fairer slice for Pacific peoples of the economic benefits from tuna fisheries.

Following its presentation to the 19th MCS Working Group of the Forum Fisheries Agency on March 15, the report will be made public.

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