Initiatives to improve job prospects and safety at sea for fishing observers has been a key focus of the 114th Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC114) meeting which brings together the 17 members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).
At the meeting it was agreed to study how observer safety can be improved in the wake of Covid-19 and how the role can be made more viable in the future.
“Observers can spend several months at sea in often dangerous conditions. Improving their working environment has been a priority of FFA for some time but we have increased our focus even further as a result of COVID-19,” said FFA director general, Ma nu Tupou-Roosen.
Job stability will be reviewed and the representatives also agreed to prioritise the development of safety protocols at sea and in port. Work will continue on the development of minimum standards for observer insurance as well as support to members to investigate observer safety issues such as death, disappearance and injury.
It was noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented pressures but also presented opportunities. “Like many other sectors, we’ve realised the potential for technology to progress work more efficiently,” said Dr Tupou-Roosen.
FFC114 also discussed climate change and the need for adaptive fisheries management regimes informed by the best available science. The meeting also adopted the Regional Longline Fishery Electronic Monitoring Policy and reaffirmed a commitment to adopt electronic reporting for fishing vessels operating within members’ exclusive economic zones.