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Common Oceans - A partnership for sustainability in the ABNJ

The Government of Fiji signs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA)

28 September 2017

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries Department of Fisheries, Suva, Fiji - September 22, 2017 | The Government of Fiji, through the Department of Fisheries, and the Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalize the collaboration between Government and Industry in their joint efforts to support sustainable management of fisheries and reduce Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Permanent Secretary for Fisheries, Mr. Sanaila Naqali, explained the importance of combatting IUU-fishing to achieve a sustainable fishing industry, and pointed out that this complex issue, which takes place both in the high seas as well as within countries' EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones), requires unprecedented measures.

Click to enlarge

Fiji Fishing Industry Association president Radhika Kumar with the
Permanent Secretary for Fisheries Sanaila Naqali during the signing
of the MOU between the Government and the Fiji Fishing Industry
Association (FFIA) © Netani Tavaga

Becoming a pilot site for of Electronic Monitoring Systems
In 2010, the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), met with what is now the FFIA, to discuss what was to become the next step in monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) to combat IUU-fishing.

This industry-driven initiative resulted in Fiji becoming a pilot site for the GEF-funded Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project's trials on the use of Electronic Monitoring Systems (EMS) aboard tuna longline vessels. The Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project, implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is a unique partnership of stakeholders at global, national and regional levels, that promotes responsible, efficient and sustainable tuna fisheries production and biodiversity conservation in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), commonly referred to as the high seas.

A new tool for compliance?
Under this joint activity with the Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project, a total of 50 vessels in the Fiji national longline fleet are being equipped with EMS, including on-board cameras and hardware, software and training to review the data that are being provided to the Department of Fisheries. The EMS-equipment will complement the current FFA Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) installed on the mentioned vessels in addition to the monitoring conducted by Fiji's own observer program, certified by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

The aim of these pilot trials, which are also being conducted on Ghanaian purse seine vessels, is to trial EMS as a compliance tool and, for the results gathered over the three-year course of the project to be turned into best practices for the use of EMS in tuna longline fisheries. Lessons learned, since January 2016, shall be disseminated to sub-regional organisations and other tuna-Regional Fisheries Management Organisations for up-scaling, in addition to becoming a new compliance tool in the Fiji MCS arsenal. Other FFA member countries are also trialling these systems on their longline fleets.

Mr. Naqali said: "EMS is a new technology that can provide additional tools to improve the compliance of fishing fleet with national and regional regulations, and Fiji is taking the lead in the Western and Central Pacific with the support of the Common Oceans ABNJ Project".

Next steps
The signing of the MoU between the Government of Fiji and FFIA represents a next step towards future collaborative efforts to ensure sustainable management of fisheries, by reducing IUU-fishing through strengthened and harmonised MCS systems. Further reduction of ecosystem impacts will be minimized through increased adherence to best practices as well as improved compliance with conservation and management measures. More information about the MoU and the Government of Fiji can be found here

The Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility with the FAO as the implementing agency, harnesses the efforts of a large and diverse array of partners, including the five tuna tuna-RFMOs, governments, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and private sector. The Project aims to achieve responsible, efficient and sustainable tuna production and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ.

For additional information, please contact:

The Fijian Government