31. Mr Brown presented a model plan of action to combat IUU fishing. This plan of action had been developed by the presenter specifically for the Pacific Islands region and would be published shortly by FAO. The consultant explained that the model plan had been elaborated for a fictious island country and included:
32. In addition, Mr Brown explained that the model plan also provided an annex relating to supporting action that would further enhanced the ability of the Pacific Island countries to combat IUU fishing. Supporting action addressed international instruments, vessels without nationality, economic incentives, monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS), cooperation between States, publicity, records of fishing vessels, authorized ports and inspection, catch documentation schemes, transparency of market and internationally agreed market-related measures.
33. Participants were advised that in developing their respective NPOAs-IUU that the involvement of all relevant government agencies/department (e.g. law, MCS, port authorities) and other stakeholders should be encouraged. Importantly, Mr Brown stressed that countries should also address their obligations in the Convention for the establishment of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in elaborating their NPOAs-IUU.
34. In discussion following the presentation a number of important issues were raised by participants. These issues included actions that could be taken against stateless vessels operating in a RFMO convention area where conservation and management measures where in force; the erosion of freedom of the high seas vis-à-vis treaty obligations with respect to conservation and management measures in a convention area; the role of the flag State, and in particular the need to have its concurrence, for boarding and inspection of authorized fishing vessels operating in a convention area; the utility of establishing a register of vessel operators in the Pacific Islands region as a means of closing loopholes to combat IUU fishing and to improve fisheries management generally and the status of RFMO cooperating non-parties in situations where the flag State had not accepted the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement.
35. To supplement the presentation on the model plan of action, observer from the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Mr Kyle Hurst, presented an overview of the FFA Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), which has been operating in the Pacific Islands region since 1999.
36. Mr Hurst explained the separate components of VMS technology and how they worked together to provide information on fishing vessels wherever they were in the Pacific Ocean. The features of the black boxes or automatic location communicators (ALCs) used in VMS were explained along with the differences between position reporting and the polling facility of ALCs.
37. Information on the investigative techniques used by MCS officers who had worked on cases using VMS technology was explained and prima facie elements were examined. Enhancements that were proposed in the FFA VMS Review were discussed and in particular proposed communications and software improvements were announced.
38. Emphasis was placed on the point that using VMS alone was not an effective MCS methods since VMS was only useful when used in combination with other MCS tools. The Workshop was also advised that FFA was developing a MCS website that would specialize in providing cross references for different MSC data. All FFA Members were encouraged to use the facilities that were being developed by the Agency and to contribute to the information base through the interface services that would be provided by FFA.
39. In discussion a number of issues were raised including the prosecution limits when using VMS; the implementation plan and timetable for the FFA MCS website and inquiries relating to the finalization of regional boundaries that have a particular bearing on the operation of VMS.