New models sought for Pacific fisheries surveillance
The Forum Fisheries Agency says the system for monitoring and surveillance of the region's fisheries is operating unsustainably and needs to change.
The Forum Fisheries Agency says the system for monitoring the region's fisheries is unsustainable and needs to change.
The policing system has been heavily reliant on aid for for more than a decade.
A review of the programme by the Forum Fisheries Agency is being presented to Pacific ministers in Solomon Islands this week.
The agency's Director General, James Movick, says the system has been a huge success and the aim is to maintain quality while getting Pacific countries to carry more of the cost.
JAMES MOVICK: This was the result of a directive from the forum leaders at a forum meeting in Port Moresby last year, and they determined that the whole issue of fishing access and monitoring, control, and surveillance has implications across a range of different government activities and interests. And so they directed that it be a joint review by ministers of fisheries, foreign affairs, and economic ministers or finance ministers by-and-large. To that we proposed, and it was agreed, that we would add ministers in charge of police or of the maritime surveillance operations to naval patrol vessels, etc. and that's the group that we have here to support this multi-sectoral to an issue that clearly does impact right across government.
KOROI HAWKINS: And what's the outcome of this? What is it that you hope to achieve with this?
JM: Well esssentially, as we understand the leaders' directive, the ministers were charged with undertaking a comprehensive joint review of the regional MCS system in place, whether it's appropriate to our needs and what sort of changes might be addressed for the future to understand whether it is serving our current needs at the present time. So, what we hope to get out of this is a better understanding on the part of ministers, who will then be able to report back to their leaders as to whether their view of the sufficiency of the current operations, as well as areas where they think there may be further work required and the types of resources and political support that may be required to undertake those.
KH: And just finally back to the monitoring, contol and surveillance. MCS, as you were saying. The current model of it though, the funding and the way it's working. Are you happy with it? Is it successful in your view?
JM: It's been successful but it's relied heavily on donor development partners. Increasingly, donor funding is becoming more limited and besides, many donors are saying 'well we've been funding this for the last 10 years, how are you going to sustain it?' And those are legitimate questions. So looking at a higher degree of cost recovery, and a large part of the effort that we will be undertaking with our member countries is to strengthen their national management capacities in order to manage their own surveillance programmes to the extent that they wish to or need to, and to derive a fair amount of cost recovery that allows them to cover their costs while not being unduly punitive or onerous on the boats themselves.
KH: And we're not talking just funding here, we're talking about some technical and logistical capacities that just don't exist in Pacific countries.
JM: Yes, certainly we're looking at new technologies that are evolving. We're keeping an eye on those and will seek to utilise where they are appropriate and possible. We're looking at how to reduce the costs within our current systems as we've gained more familiarity and experience with these we realise that there are other ways to achieve the same outcomes more cost-efficiently and so we've been taking steps to reduce those costs. We're also looking at increasing the training and capacity building of the national offices so that they're able to be more effective in the implementation of their responsibilities.
James Movick says the FFA is keeping an eye on new surveillance technology as a cost-effective method of monitoring in the future.
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