AFMA collects visual information from fishing vessels via observers and e-monitoring (cameras). As a result of this monitoring, we became aware of instances of inappropriate handling of fish bycatch. Instances of inappropriate handling include failure to promptly remove and discard bycatch species. For example, leaving bycatch on the deck for extended periods or failure to return bycatch to its natural environment promptly is considered mistreatment. Where bycatch is not discarded immediately due to operational or safety reasons, this is not considered as mistreatment.
AFMA is well known for international engagement and collaboration with countries in the region, and in February 2017 AFMA stepped up another level in this area. Two officers were deployed on board the French Marine Nationale Frigate Nivôse to patrol both the French and Australian exclusive economic zones and territorial seas in the Southern Ocean.
In addition, two AFMA officers were working with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency in Suva, Fiji assisting in conducting practical assessments on the Certificate IV – Fisheries Enforcement and Compliance Foundation Officers Course. Two AFMA officers were also embarked on the United States Coast Guard Cutter ‘Sequoia’ targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Federated States of Micronesia. They were accompanied by an officer from Federated States of Micronesia’s National Police, a Mandarin interpreter from the United States Marine Corp and a Vessel Monitoring System analyst from the United States Coast Guard. This was the fourth United States Coast Guard-AFMA patrol of its kind in the past twelve months.
These activities continue to build on the strong relationships that AFMA has with our regional partners, and our officers continue to share their expertise and support other nations to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the region.
AFMA officer (first on left) on board US Coast Guard Sequoia in Guam. Photo courtesy: AFMA