Not just IUU boats, follow the crew, say Pacific nations

Pacific nations are initiating a watch list of vessel masters linked to the WCPFC IUU vessel blacklist.

The move to strengthen tracking of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing vessels with another layer of information listing vessel masters, is hoping to gain traction amongst Tuna Commission members. 

 "At the moment we blacklist boats that have been caught illegally fishing, but as we all know, it is the people on board that are actually doing the wrong thing.  The Persons of Interest (POI) watch list will help detect vessel masters slipping through the current IUU vessel blacklist and going on to lead rogue fishing from another vessel", says FFA DG James Movick. 

FFA members first raised the idea of Persons of Interest being added to the Vessels of Interest lists at the WCPFC Technical and Compliance session this year. Their concerns over compliance by vessel crew at the centre of actual IUU activity, rather than the vessel used to carry it out, are behind the new concept.

 “FFA members have been strongly supportive of the WCPFC IUU blacklist, and the ability to identify vessels that have operated illegally and hold them to account, but we recognise a more important body of work is being able to identify the individuals who drive those vessels, and are interested in putting a far greater emphasis the master and owner,” says Movick. 

Members are looking to deal with this in two ways- by increasing the WCPFC measure to include information about the name and nationality of the master on the IUU blacklist; “and to run some internal work amongst ourselves to increase the level of information we have on the FFA Vessel Register, so we have specific details on the master of each vessel.”

Tracking performance of individuals in charge of vessels will not just focus on IUU, but help ensure countries refine the approach for prioritising dealings with compliant vessels, so that both ends of the compliance spectrum are covered, says DG Movick.

 “Obviously, our members want that information to help them make licensing decisions, especially when it comes to licensing one vessel over another,” he says.  

 The new persons of interest data layer will build on the current FFA database feeding the FFA Regional Surveillance Picture, or RSP. 

 “The regional surveillance picture provides a rich layer of information tracking location, activity and vessels including their license information, compliance rating and previous boardings,” says Movick, “soon, this will be yet another piece of information that FFA members will have at their disposal.” 

FFA members have already advised the WCPFC plenary of work underway on the issue, and welcomed advice from any Commission members doing similar work. 

They’ve asked the Commission Secretariat, where available, to include names of vessel masters on the WCPFC IUU Vessel list.