Training helps Licensing Officers use legal and FFA tools to control fisheries

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS 7-10 FEBRUARY 2011: Fisheries Licensing Officers from 14 member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) have now completed the Fisheries Licensing Officer’s Workshop (FLOW), where they learned more about key legal and monitoring tools to control fishing. A total of 20 participants from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu attended as well as staff from FFA, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. The workshop outlined the role of licensing and its importance to fisheries management and controlling illegal fishing. The program included a broad range of sessions designed to ensure licensing officers have a thorough understanding of the various legal arrangements applicable to their work, such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission measures, Parties to the Nauru Agreement Implementing Arrangements and the US Treaty. In addition, presentations on key FFA Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) tools such as the Vessel Monitoring System, the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Coordination Centre and the newly implemented Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Strategy were provided. Funding for the training was made available by the Japanese Government through the Japan Promotion Fund. Explaining the significance of the training, FFA Fisheries Operations Director Mark Young said: “Generally Licensing Officers perceive their major role as national revenue generators, and fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance is regarded as a separate role involving other people like inspectors. But the role of licensing officers is an important part of fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance too.” Addressing the licensing officers, Young said: “You do have a responsibility to your country and our region, and I challenge you to address that responsibility in a meaningful and most appropriate manner. The Role of Licensing Officers is an essential link not only at the national fisheries level, but at the sub-regional, regional and international levels. They are considered to be a vital conduit with all stakeholders within national agencies, fishing industries and policy makers, ensuring a timely dissemination of licensing information to respective national and regional enforcement agencies.” This was the 5th FLOW, the last one being held in 2008.