By Ronald Toitoona
THE Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) has successfully sanctioned the regional Port State Measure (PSM) framework at its 114th meeting held in June.
According to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Director-General, Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen, “this marks a significant milestone in the Agency’s efforts to strengthen and enhance port-based activities in relation to addressing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the territories of its 17 member states.”
These efforts are also reflective of the FFA’s Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Strategy (RMCSS) 2018-2023 which highlights PSM as “one useful MCS tool in the larger MCS toolbox available to members in the fight against IUU fishing.”
Mr. Edward Honiwala, Director of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) highlighted that, “the adoption of the regional PSM framework provides the opportunity to strengthen the country’s National Port State controls, establish mechanisms that would facilitate our obligations under the WCPFC CMM on Port State Measures, and ensures that our Port State Controls are compatible with other international arrangements.”
The FFA Regional PSM Framework provides key elements, processes and responses necessary to facilitate targeted and effective PSM across the region. It provides guidance to FFA Members in developing minimum PSM standards to be applied at the national level, promoting inter-agency cooperation and coordination, and improving data and information exchange. The scope of the framework applies to all fishing vessels; therefore, members may apply these provisions to their national vessels at their own discretion.
The nature of fishing in the WCPO is multi-jurisdictional and multi-national and therefore requires internal and external networks to effectively manage any issues, such as illegal fishing and transnational crime. If implemented effectively, PSM can prevent IUU-caught fish from entering into national and international markets, and provides the foundation for further work in the area of catch certification and Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS).
The FFA Secretariat’s PSM work is supported through a five-year investment from the New Zealand Government which commenced in 2017 under the Pacific Islands Port State Measures (PIPSM) project.
Over the course of 2019, the regional PSM framework was developed by the FFA members. It underwent amendments and was tabled at four technical and governance meetings until it was officially adopted at the FFC114 in June 2020.
The Secretariat has commenced work on a prototype for an e-PSM tool which digitises and automates PSM processes in line with the regional PSM framework. In addition, discussions have kick started with members that have identified national PSM priorities for support.