National Fisheries Authority to Step Up Surveillance

By Vanessa Knight – EM TV News, Port Moresby

The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) is considering high-tech surveillance methods, which will be implemented in a bid to monitor illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities in PNG waters.

Effective surveillance is recognised and highlighted as a priority area in the NFA’s reform plans for the fishing industry.

The fishing industry regulating body currently uses a system called the VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) which pinpoints on real time, all NFA licensed vessels in PNG waters on a screen.

By their positions and movements, the NFA can determine legal from illegal activities being carried out and respond accordingly; however this is only limited to vessels bearing NFA issued licenses.

On instructions from the Prime Minister, the NFA is tasked with identifying an alternate surveillance method with efficient and effective mechanisms for fishery monitoring and control.

This comes in the form of a system called the FIMS (Fishing Industry Monitoring System), which tracks vessels through its IMO (International Maritime Organisation) numbering, and covers all vessels out at sea.

Movements and activities of these vessels will then be monitored through satellite images, and identified by their IMO numbers in Singapore where they are registered. This way, illegal fishing boats can now be detected and identified.

NFA Managing Director, John Kase, says the initial survey is taking place, and once a report is finalised it will be presented to the National Executive Council for deliberation and approval.

Since the European Commission has issued a warning, in the form of a yellow card to PNG, to increase efforts in combating illegal fishing in PNG waters a number of changes have taken place in the NFA.

At the policy level, the Tuna Management Plan and the Fisheries Management Act are being reviewed and endorsed by parliament while the authority is still working on fisheries regulation.

Within the organisation, surveillance, control and monitoring have been reinforced, and the industry is currently undergoing a review.

This will eventually contribute towards PNG’s efforts in aligning the industry with the roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries. This roadmap was adopted by the Pacific leaders in their recent forum held here in Port Moresby.

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