MSC is allocating funding to help improve observer safety and welfare Photo: MSCMSC is allocating funding to help improve observer safety and welfare Photo: MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is allocating £100,000 of funding aimed at improving observer safety and welfare at sea.

The move follows the first death of an observer on a vessel fishing for MSC-certified catch in the Western Central Pacific. The death of Eritara Aati Kaierua on board the Win Far 636 in March 2020 is still under police investigation in Tarawa, Kiribati but there have been persistent reports of the dangers facing observers globally.

The MSC action comes as there is a growing focus on this area, including campaigns on observer safety by Greenpeace and the Association of Professional Observers as well as the publication of a recent report by the organisation Human Rights at Sea. “By working collaboratively with others, we believe we can help protect the human rights of observers and support them to carry out their vital work safeguarding our oceans,” said the chief executive of MSC, Rupert Howes.

Observers play a vital role ensuring the monitoring, compliance and surveillance of commercial fishing activities. However, according to the Association of Professional Observers, the isolated and sometimes contentious nature of their jobs can lead to attempts at bribery, intimidation and violence.

The funds will be deployed through the MSC’s Ocean Stewardship Fund in the next round which opens for applications in September 2020.

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