Nauru ban on transhipments sets an example - Greenpeace
Greenpeace is applauding Nauru's banning of transhipments but says it is just the start illegal fishing in the Pacific.
Greenpeace is applauding Nauru's banning of transhipments but says it is just one step towards combating illegal fishing in the Pacific.
Nauru has issued a blanket ban the practice in its exclusive economic zone, after an alleged illegal operation by a Taiwanese ship caught near its waters by Greenpeace last week.
Transhipment involves vessels transferring their catch to a bigger ship out at sea which allows them to stay in ocean fishing grounds for years on end and dodge mechanisms which monitor their catch.
A Greenpeace campaigner with the Rainbow Warrior II, Lagi Toribau, says banning the practice is the right move but Pacific nations lack the resources to properly monitor the practice.
LAGI TORIBAU: Because of the vastness of the Pacific ocean and because of the number of vessels, I think there are about 3,500 longliners that are authorised to fish in this area of the Pacific. They also fully understand the limitations of our Pacific governments to properly monitor and enforce their huge waters with countries having at least one patrol boat to monitor huge waters. So a lot of the industry, they know that this is out of sight, in the middle of nowhere and there are limitations in proper surveillance and policing from our governments in the Pacific. So this is something that Greenpeace have seen in previous years, I think this is the seventh Pacific ship that we've documented similar types of activity. This is one of the really strong cases of clear cut under-reporting, and mis-reporting.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX:That issue of being able to police these areas, where the ships are mis-reporting, or illegally taking amounts of fish that they're not allowed to take, how can Pacific nations control this? Nauru has said that you're exposure of this illegal operation has prompted them to ban transhipments, but if you don't have the resources to police it, what can you do?
LT: The reality is of this fishery, is that this is one of the largest ocean in the world, the entire tuna fishing down the western and central Pacific ocean alone, their total waters is bigger than the land mass of Mars and just take for instance, one of the Pacific island countries, that's Kiribati their entire national waters is well over three million square kilometres of ocean and that's bigger than the continental USA if you put it in and they only have one patrol boat. I guess the positive side is that most of the tuna fishing ground is within the control and within the waters of the Pacific island countries and they have the legal jurisdiction for them to impose additional, or really good conservation measures in place so one of the things that we're encouraging other Pacific Island countries to follow suit, similar to what Nauru has announced, is to ban this practice of allowing vessels to transfer their fish out at sea, this is quite usual for longline vessels so they're able to stay out at sea for months, even up to a year or two years and they don't have the requirement to come in to port and they're able to transfer their fish out at sea, they're able to refuel and they get resupplied. With the limitation in policing this allows vessels to stay out of sight, an no one really knows how much fish have been laundered out so one of the things we're encouraging Pacific island countries, it is well within their rights and they will be able to completely change the dynamic and help with the limitation in policing, is to ban this practice of transhipment and have them all do it in port and that way it's also an economic return for Pacific governments.
DM-C: Will banning transhipments be enough though? Will that be enough to get longliners to come in and report their catch?
LT: Certainly not, I think this is one of the progressive steps that can be taken, it is certainly the allowance of vessels to continuously tranship at sea is one of the symptoms that's contributing to illegal fishing and fundamentally it is one of the huge contributors to the over fishing that is occurring in the region. I think the biggest challenge for Pacific Island countries and the overall management of tuna fisheries in the Pacific is over capacity there are way too many boats.
DM-C: Are the larger neighbouring countries helping Pacific nations to police this and if not, should they be?
LT: Yeah, we're quite thrilled to see there is now increased support from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, France, the United States. We've also noted that Taiwan and Korea are deploying some of their surveillance into the Pacific and this is to be welcomed. I think the challenges are for our Pacific countries, is also the fact that they have patrol boats that are normally sitting in their port and they only go out depending on the availability of fuel and I think that's really a no-brainer, to be able to ensure that the patrol boats that are sitting in most of the Pacific ports have at least at the bare minimum, access to the fuel for them to be able to constantly undertake this rather than wait for the bigger nations to come in and help.
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