16 December 2015

This map shows the size of the Kiribati EEZ (in beige) in comparison to the size of the United States.

Capacity building is an integral part of combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. To that end, over the last three years, AFMA has been working with the Republic of Kiribati (an island nation in the Central Pacific) to train and educate fisheries officers, and fishers of the nation.

The Republic of Kiribati comprises 33 atolls and reefs straddling the equator and dispersed through its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spanning more than 3 million km2. These vast waters are teeming with highly prized Tuna species, however geographical distance and lack of adequate resources and training exposes Kiribati to the risk of  illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

From 2012 – 2015 AFMA,  through funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) under the Public Sector Linkages Program (PSLP) for the Pacific, developed,  implemented and delivered a training program to support Kiribati’s Ministry for Marine Resources and Development (MFMRD), Police Marine Unit, Immigration and Customs Officers to better manage their Fisheries.

Throughout the program, AFMA officers provided training to over 100 Kiribati Officers in fisheries management, monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries and Ports State Measures. The Kiribati Pacific Class Patrol vessel, RKS Teanoai, was utilised to conduct patrols of the three Kiribati EEZs and provide at-sea boardings and inspection training on fishing vessels.

The program has strengthened Kiribati Compliance Officers capacity to sustainably manage their fish stocks and take enforcement action in accordance with the newly implemented Kiribati National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing. This will assist Kiribati in securing reliable fish stocks as both a source of food and revenue into the future.

Of particular note, during the last week of the training course AFMA officers Ben Bosschieter and Mick Munn assisted Kiribati fisheries officials in investigating the activities of the captain of a foreign tuna longline vessel which had been fishing in Kiribati waters. These actions resulted in an out of court settlement of $165,000 being paid by the offender.