12 Jul 2017

Fisheries observer safety measures 'not fully implemented'

12:42 pm on 12 July 2017

The environmental group WWF says measures to protect regional fisheries observers are not being adequately implemented.

James Numbaru

James Junior Numbaru Photo: Supplied

The comment from the NGO's Pacific tuna programme manager Bubba Cook came after the death of another Papua New Guinea fisheries observer on the job in the Pacific.

James Junior Numbaru was serving as an observer on the purse seiner Feng Xiang No. 818 when he was reported missing two weeks ago in Nauru waters.

His body has still not been recovered, and Nauru police ruled out foul play after a 24 hour investigation.

Mr Cook said two years ago the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Forum Fisheries Agency both instituted measures to address observer safety.

These included technology tools, two-way communicators, personal locator beacons as well as procedures requiring participation by both flag states and coastal states.

But he said the failure occurred in the implementation.

"Even though the initial requirements for technology were put in place back in December of 2015, we've heard that a number of the countries still haven't implemented that policy. That the observers that are being deployed haven't being issued those tools, and if they are issued those tools there's the bigger question of whether they are keeping those tools on their person at all times."

Mr Cook said there remained a need for greater transparency and record-keeping around the work of observers aboard fishing vessels in the region.