The Oceanic division serves two key functions: Managing fishing access, through licensing of foreign tuna fishing vessels and collection of data on their operations; and the Policing of our fisheries waters (EEZ) to prevent and deter unlicensed fishing and ensure compliance by licensed vessels with the terms and conditions of their fishing licenses.
The division comprises of two sub-divisions: 1) Licensing and Information, and 2) Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS). As the name implies, the former deals with issuance of fishing license whereas the latter being responsible for the policing of our waters against illegal, unregulated and unreported fisheries activities. In 2020 the Division will transition to a new structure with four work groups: Licensing (including data management); Enforcement and Compliance; VMS and VDS management; and the Observer Programme. The titles of these groups, each headed by a senior fisheries officer, are self-explanatory.
In line with the first & second objectives of the Fisheries Department’s New Corporate Plan 2020-2023, the division will focus its work programme on following activities:
- Enhancing MCS of foreign fishing vessels’ (FFV) activities in Tuvalu’s Fishery waters;
- Licensing of PS, LL, P&L, Carriers and Bunkers;
- Improving the management of the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS);
- Implementing the PNA LL Vessel Day Scheme (LL VDS);
- Continue to make improvements to the Observer program;
- Implementing e-reporting by Observers;
- Collecting and disseminating tuna data to SPC and WCPFC;
- Fulfilling Tuvalu’s obligations under relevant international and regional fisheries treaties to which Tuvalu is a party;
- Strengthening human resources through attending internal and external capacity building training courses to enhance staff’s capacity;
- Providing technical training and awareness programme to all stakeholders involved in MCS work.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) continues to exist in the Pacific Ocean. A recent study suggests that IUU is driven largely by licensed vessels and relates to misreporting, non-reporting and under reporting. Hence the focus will be on improving compliance amongst all licensed vessels, while still deterring illegal fishing the EEZ.
Enforcement and Compliance activities require close collaboration with the Maritime Wing of the Tuvalu Police Department, the Attorney-General’s Office and other government agencies involved in maritime law enforcement. With the new Guardian-Class Patrol Boat from Australia’s Defence Program and with the FFA aerial surveillance program, together with the donor funding at our disposal, there is an opportunity to increase coverage of surface patrol operations in the EEZ to deter IUU activities.
The Tuvalu National Observer Programme currently has about eighty observers which is considered the optimal size. There has been a growing demand for Tuvaluan observers in recent times, thus the challenge is to maintain this positive trend. With the large number of observers, a Technical Advisor is strongly desired to provide advice and suggestions to the observer coordinator in managing the observer program effectively. The recruitment process has been completed and the TA is expected to come on board early in 2020.
One of the key priority activities for the Oceanic Fisheries Division is the hosting of the PNA Observer Agency Workshop and the Regional Observer Coordinator Workshop (ROCW) 2020 in early February. Several other activities, including participation in regional Surveillance operations, support to regional aerial surveillance operations and over-flights, and engagement in ship-rider programmes operated by QUAD (US, NZ, AUS & FR) Navy or Coastguard vessels will be carried out opportunistically but cannot be included in the work programme as dates are unknown at this stage.
Moreover, most of the MCS Division’s activities are ongoing or routine, such as observer deployment, observer data scanning, boarding and inspection of transshipment vessels, transhipment reconciling, VMS monitoring, VDS monitoring etc. However, a number of milestone tasks for 2020 are identified below.