FFA assists countries to board and prosecute fishing vessels

NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA, MONDAY 3 NOVEMBER 2008: The FFA Director General Su’a N.F. Tanielu opened the Prosecution and Dockside Boarding Workshop in Tonga today. This workshop will assist local officers to board and inspect fishing vessels for offences.

In Tonga this week, fisheries officers, police and maritime navy at the workshop will learn more about International law, National laws, Regional and Sub-regional Fisheries Agreements, Fishing Vessel Boarding & Evidence Collections and Court Procedures.

FFA has provided these workshops for Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu. In addition to fisheries and police or navy officers, crown law office staff and public prosecutions staff, officers in related roles such as immigration, customs and quarantine agencies have also attended the workshops. A total of 380 participants from 13 FFA member countries have participated since 2005.

Officers doing boarding, inspection and evidence collection need an increased understanding of how fishing vessels operate and changes to international law and measures adopted by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, as well as their national laws, to do their work effectively. FFA’s assistance provides expertise and training on the international legal instruments, regional agreements and national law to give officers a broader understanding of their work and its relation to prosecution of fishing vessels for offences.

The next workshop will be held in Niue shortly. These workshops will also be reviewed to examine possible improvements, including tailored programs for members without access to patrol boats.

Funding for the workshops is provided by FFA (www.ffa.int) and the UN Global Environment Facility (GEF) programme under the Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project (www.ffa.int/gef/).