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By Pita Ligaiula in Manila, Philippines
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has raised the issue of blue boats fishing illegally in the region with Vietnamese authorities.
These traditional vessels powered by small diesel or gasoline engines are known as Blue Boats because of their striking colour.
Despite their small size they have been apprehended in many Pacific countries from Palau, Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia to Papua New Guinea.
They have even been caught as far south as Australia and as far east into the Pacific as New Caledonia, more than 7000 kilometers from Vietnam.
Tuna Commission Executive Director, Feleti Teo says although the issue has not been raised directly at the Commission level it might affect Vietnam application for cooperating non-members status.
“In the context of the Commission there has been attempt to link because as you know most of the Blue Boats originate from Vietnam and Vietnam is a cooperating non-member.
“I was in Vietnam earlier in the year and I raised the issue directly with the Vice Minister for Fisheries in Vietnam just to alert him to the fact that some members maybe seeking to block Vietnam application for … cooperating non-members status because of the activities of their Blue Boats.
“I understand there has been various bilateral discussions between Vietnam and the countries that are affected by the Blue Boats. It’s not an issue specifically raised at the Commission level,” Teo told regional journalist in Manila.
After a spate of arrests of Blue Boats the Forum Fisheries Agencies (FFA) convened a special meeting of its member nations in May this year.
After that event FFA director General James Movick said existing monitoring, control and surveillance of Pacific tuna fisheries can help Pacific countries address threat from Blue boats, adding that the Pacific response needs to address the broad consequences of this violation of national borders and resources, as well as include collective diplomatic action toward tackling the source of the problem.
The FFA noted that Vietnam’s response to Pacific diplomacy will show how seriously that nation takes its engagement with this part of the world.
Vietnam’s continuing status as a co-operating non-member country will come before the Tuna Commission next week.
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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