Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


2.1 International instruments

The IPOA-IUU calls on States to give full effect to relevant norms of international law in order to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. States are encouraged as a matter of priority to ratify, accept or accede to the 1982 UN Convention, the 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement, the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement and to implement the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, including its related IPOA-IUUs and strategy and to become members of, or cooperate to establish new, RFMOs where appropriate.

The PIC is in compliance with relevant norms of international law related to the conservation and management of marine living resources. In fact, the PIC is a party to the following instruments:




1979 FFA Convention


1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea


1989 Driftnet Convention


1991 Regional Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement


1995 Fish Stocks Agreement


2000 WCPF Convention


The PIC is taking steps to implement the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and is in the process of implementing the IPOA-IUU. Other IPOA-IUUs to be implemented through the development of NPOAs are the IPOA-IUU-shark and the IPOA-IUU-capacity.

Although the trust and provisions of the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement are incorporated into the Fisheries Management Act 2002[18], the PIC has yet to ratify this Agreement. Action will be undertaken in the Ministry of Fisheries to initiate procedures for ratification.

The Fisheries Management Act 2002, requires that PIC nationals and PIC flag vessels wishing to operate in high seas areas to be duly authorized.[19] The Act also allows for the implementation of further management measures for high seas areas that may be decided by RFMOs. The PIC has ratified the WCPF Convention and is therefore bound to implement conservation and management measures relating to highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific region, established by the WCPF Commission.

The PIC has also agreed to implement the FFA Harmonized Minimum Terms and Conditions of Access (MTCs), which set minimum reporting and monitoring requirements for foreign fishing vessels licensed to operate in the FFA region. In accordance with Section 23 of the Fisheries Management Act 2002, Tuna Fisheries Development and Management Regulations have been drafted. These Regulations require that the terms and conditions of access by foreign fishing vessels to the country's EEZ conform with the regionally agreed the MTCs.

2.2 National legislation

2.2.1 Legislation

The IPOA-IUU states that national legislation should address, in an effective manner, all aspects of IUU fishing.

The Fisheries Management Act 2002, entered into force in April 2004. It provides for the conservation, management and sustainable utilization and development of fisheries resources. The legislation permits and encourages the use of tools identified in the IPOA-IUU "toolbox". Draft Fisheries Management Regulations to be implemented under the Act are currently being reviewed.

Part XIII of the Fisheries Management Act 2002, provides for the use of certificate evidence and the use of photographic evidence with the date and time superimposed. The Act also provides for the implementation of regulations setting out the circumstances in which the readings, printouts, displays and pictures produced by a designated instrument may be admissible in evidence.[20] All vessels of a specified class are required to have an approved Automatic Location Communicators (ALC) device fitted and operational.[21] Draft regulations relating to VMS are currently being developed.

The definition of "fishing" is comprehensive and follows the definition adopted by the FFA member States as well as that embedded in the WCPF Convention.[22]

2.2.2 State control over nationals

The IPOA-IUU calls on States, to the greatest extent possible, to take measures or cooperate to ensure that their nationals do not support or engage in IUU fishing, and to cooperate to identify those nationals who are the operators or beneficial owners of IUU fishing vessels.

The PIC will maintain a register of the operators or beneficial owners of vessels flying its flag, including their nationality. In this way the PIC can identify its nationals should a vessel be involved in IUU fishing. It will encourage other island States in the region and RFMOs to maintain the same information base and encourage cooperation and information exchanges for purposes of controlling nationals who may be involved in IUU fishing.

The Fisheries Management Act, 2002, requires PIC nationals to be authorized to fish on the high seas[23] and it is an offence for any PIC subject or ship that is registered under the Shipping Act or flies or is entitled to fly, the PIC flag, to fish in the zone of another State without authorization from that State and adherence to its laws.[24]

2.2.3 Vessels without nationality

The IPOA-IUU calls on States to take measures consistent with international law in relation to vessels without nationality on the high seas that are involved in IUU fishing.

The PIC is a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and will support any effort of that body to prevent vessels from becoming stateless during their transfer to a new flag.

Any information received on vessels without nationality operating in the Pacific Islands will be passed on to neighbouring States and relevant RFMOs, as appropriate, as well as the International MCS Network for wider international dissemination.

2.2.4 Sanctions

The IPOA-IUU provides that sanctions for IUU fishing by vessels and nationals under its jurisdiction should be of sufficient severity to effectively prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing and to deprive offenders of the benefits accruing from such fishing.

The PIC endeavours to deter fisheries-related offences through successful prosecution and deterrent penalties. Penalties for fisheries-related offences can include fines, forfeiture of fish, vessel and imprisonment. An IUU fishing vessel may also be "black-listed" on the Regional Register. This action would deny the vessel the possibility to be licensed to fish in any FFA member State's EEZ.

The Fisheries Management Act 2002, sets fines for serious offences such as fishing without authorization, of up to PIC$1.5 million. In a current case of IUU fishing, the Government is seeking PIC$3.2 million in penalties covering fines as well as the value of the vessel and catch. There is a need, however, for the level of penalties for offences committed inside PIC waters to be balanced with penalties for offences committed outside PIC waters.

Administrative penalties for minor offences are not a feature of the Fisheries Management Act 2002, but a review is in progress with a view to their inclusion as a way of expediting resolution without burdening the court system. The Minister of Fisheries may compound an offence committed by a foreign vessel by accepting, on behalf of the Government, a sum of money not exceeding the maximum fine specified, from the offender.[25]

2.2.5 Non-cooperating States

The IPOA-IUU recommends that all possible steps should be taken, consistent with international law, to prevent, deter and eliminate the activities of non-cooperating States to a relevant RFMO that engage in IUU fishing.

The PIC will cooperate with all RFMOs to which it belongs to prevent, deter and eliminate the activities of non-cooperating States that engage in IUU fishing. This will include implementing trade and other sanctions that may be recommended by the WCPF Commission.[26]

2.2.6 Economic incentives

The IPOA-IUU provides that States should avoid conferring economic support, including subsidies, to companies, vessels or persons that are involved in IUU fishing.

Economic support will be withheld from companies, vessels and persons that are involved in IUU fishing. In particular, access to any fuel subsidy, will be denied to any fishing vessel involved in IUU fishing.

2.2.7 Monitoring, control and surveillance

The IPOA-IUU calls on all States to undertake comprehensive and effective MCS of fishing from its commencement, through the point of landing, to final destination.

The Fisheries Management Act 2002, sets out the broad requirements for vessel licensing and these are elaborated in regulations. All foreign fishing vessels, including locally based foreign fishing vessels, are required to be registered in "good standing" on the FFA Regional Register with vessel, flag, owner, operator, master and fishing master details.

This information is available to all FFA member States. In addition, vessels and their operators are required to be registered on the PIC Fishing Vessel Register prior to applying for a fishing licence. All licences include terms and conditions of access that cover target species and any bycatch restrictions, closed areas, operational restrictions and reporting. Vessels are required to be VMS compliant and to carry observers on a cost-recovery basis.

All fishing activities are subject to periodic inspection and in the case of export products, inspection and permitting prior to export. MCS in the PIC is an integrated system that relies on cooperation between various entities including the Ministry of Fisheries, PDS, Crown Law, Commerce Department, Customs, Police, Registrar of Companies, Ports Authority, Fishers, Management Advisory Committees, the New Zealand and Australian armed forces, RFMOs and other Pacific Island States.

The Ministry of Fisheries maintains constant contact with FFA with respect to foreign fishing vessel activity in the region and is a participant in the regional VMS. Regular communication is also maintained with neighbouring States on vessels that may be operating in multiple EEZs.

To enhance MCS capabilities at both policy and operational levels, the following coordinating mechanisms have been established:

The major MSC issues are also addressed by fisheries Management Advisory Committees which include fisher representation.

The Ministry of Fisheries is developing Compliance Plans to support each of the fisheries Management Plans. Each Compliance Plan will aim at informing stakeholders and the wider public about the management plan as well as regulations in place and the terms and conditions for fishing access.

The increasing cooperation between the Ministry of Fisheries and the PDS will continue and subregional programmes to train observers and port samplers will be attended by an increasing number of PIC nationals. Training of naval and police personnel in boarding, inspection and evidence-gathering will continue. In addition, PDS, Police, Ministry of Fisheries, Crown Law and members of the judiciary will participate in in-country fisheries prosecution workshops conducted with regional assistance. Vessel reporting requirements will be reviewed and strengthened. Reporting requirements for the high seas and the information database of licences and registers will be upgraded or developed. Cooperation through regional agencies on information collection and sharing and cooperative enforcement, including VMS, will be strengthened. Cooperation with international organizations and networks, such as FAO and the International MCS Network, will be enhanced.

Capacity building is a central feature of the PIC Fisheries Project and includes the following activities in 2004:

To be more effective in its MCS functions, the Ministry of Fisheries will require additional skilled staff particularly in the legal area[27] and the operation of the national and regional VMS. Additional trained personnel will also be required to achieve adequate observer coverage and that port sampling reaches targeted levels to ensure that inspection regimes are complied with.

2.2.8 Cooperation between States

The IPOA-IUU calls on States to coordinate their activities and cooperate directly, and as appropriate through relevant RFMOs, in preventing, deterring and eliminating IUU fishing.

The PIC is member of SPC and FFA and participates fully in all regional MCS-related programmes including implementation of MTCs, the Regional Register, VMS, the Regional Observer Programme and the annual meetings of MSC, VMS and Observer officials. The PIC also benefits from the Australian Patrol Boat programme in terms of platforms and training as well as from the aerial surveillance programmes provided to the region by Australia, New Zealand, the USA and France. Lists of currently licensed vessels are provided to FFA on a regular basis as is information on IUU fishing activities. Catch and effort data is also collected and provided to SPC and FFA for analysis.

The PIC is a party to the WCPF Convention and anticipates full involvement in the WCPF Commission's MCS programmes for high seas areas, once these are developed and implemented.

The PIC also cooperates directly with neighbouring States on MCS issues and is working towards the development of joint and reciprocal MCS arrangements under the 1992 Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the Pacific Islands Region (Niue Treaty).

2.2.9 Publicity

The IPOA-IUU calls on States to publicize widely, including through cooperation with other States, full details of IUU fishing and actions taken to eliminate it, in a manner consistent with any confidentiality requirements.

The PIC uses the media to publicize IUU fishing incidents and resulting convictions as a means of deterring IUU fishing and supporting compliance with international agreements and domestic fisheries laws.[28] Use is also made of the FFA MCS monthly newsheet and the International MCS Network to publicize IUU fishing incidents.

The Ministry of Fisheries also has a website ( that should be used for this purpose.

[18] Fisheries Management Act 2002, Part VIII, S49.
[19] Fisheries Management Act 2002, Part VIII.
[20] Fisheries Management Act 2002, Part XIV, S.101 (2) (y).
[21] Fisheries Management Act 2002, Part IV, S.24 (a).
[22] WCPF Convention, Part 1, Art. 1(d); Fisheries Management Act 2002, Part 1,S.2(1).
[23] Fisheries Management Act 2002, Part VIII, S.46.
[24] Fisheries Management Act 2002, Part IX, S.66.
[25] Fisheries Management Act 2002, Part XIV, S.95 (1). Compounding was used in the 2004 Ching Fong Hwa No.1 case.
[26] The PIC has used the Regional Register to suspend the "good standing" of a foreign fishing vessel.
[27] Technical assistance will be available through the GEF SAP II project coordinated by FFA which is expected to commence in May 2005.
[28] Fishing News International published an article on the Ching Fong Hwa No.1 case.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page