Polynesia embraces satellite tracking of illegal fishing
Satellite tracking system to be trialled in the Polynesian countries as they up their fight to contain illegal fishing.
It is hoped the pilot of a new scheme to help countries in the Polynesian Leadership Group monitor and control illegal fishing should be in place in weeks.
The leaders from Niue, Tonga, Samoa, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu and Tokelau believe satellite technology will give them the information they need to properly manage their fisheries.
They have contracted the Pew Charitable Trust and Satellite Applications Catapult to set up the Eyes on the Sea project for a six month pilot.
Pew's Bronwen Golder told Don Wiseman what this satellite technolgy will do.
BRONWEN GOLDER: It will provide a comprehensive surveillance of the Polynesian Leaders' Group. It will be able to identify the presence and behaviour of fishing vessels and then based on information and data that is available it will be able to determine what of that activity is legal and it will also identify vessels that are there that shouldn't be there.
DON WISEMAN: So it will know which vessels are which:?
BG: Well you can because you have information of the vessels that a country has licensed to fish within its waters, and so with that information and information that is transmitted from the vessels you are able to match them up or not, so if you find evidence of vessels that are not on a country's register as having a fishing licence to be there, then obviously they are there illegally.
DW: In terms of any response to this illegal activity, that is up to the countries concerned. It is not part of the project?
BG: No but the data that is collected is provided to the countries to then take action, either within their national legislation and decision making or within the decision making of the larger regional bodies. So already you have an agency like the FFA [ Forum Fisheries Agency] which is doing monitoring activity of vessels across this area, what Eyes on the Sea does is really complement and extend that surveillance to add new data sets and new capabilities, so that we can just reinforce and strengthen the work that is being done.
DW: Where does the money come from?
BG: Well Pew is supporting the pilot for the Polynesian Leaders' Group (PLG), so we have partnered with the Catapult in the UK. And such is our commitment to seeing this type of technology being utilised to protect our oceans and the sustainable fisheries across them, we will support the project for six months with the PLG and then through the course of the pilot we will be able to review with them, you know, progress, see what is being identified and then they really need to consult with their governments and their partners and other agencies to see how you take it forward.
DW: And the pilot gets underway when?
BG: The PLG invited Pew to present the proposal and have then accepted it so the details of that pilot are currently being worked out and we are hoping we will be able to kick it off in March or April of this year.
The scheme is already in place in other parts of the Pacific, such as Palau.
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