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Pacific Island countries need to work together to eliminate the threat posed by illegal fishing, says a panel on marine activity in the region.
The use of monitoring tools on licensed fishing vessels, such as fisheries observers, and satellite tracking systems, are good for monitoring those who play by the rules.
But some operators operate illegally, slipping in and out a country’s waters undetected.
“With the additional pressures of climate change, the threats posed by illegal fishing are too high to ignore,” said Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland “The long-term survival of the Pacific’s fish stocks are at stake. We need to come together and share intelligence.”
While most Pacific Island countries do some surveillance of their own waters, they are often reluctant to share information because of commercial and other sensitivities. This can lead to gaps in coverage or understanding of a problem that affects the region as a whole.
“Thankfully however, countries are increasingly understanding the need for greater collaboration in order to combat what is becoming a progressively more difficult problem for Pacific countries to face on their own,” the Secretary General said.
Through sharing information, suspicious behaviour by a vessel in one place can be cross-checked with its actions in other places to build a more complete picture.
The Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to collaborate with regional organisations to assist countries in drawing up agreements to share information.
The panel discussion was among activities leading up to the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ summit in Apia, Samoa on Friday 8 September. The Commonwealth is an Observer at the PIF.
The theme for this year’s meeting is The Blue Pacific – Our Sea of Islands - Our security through sustainable development, management and conservation.
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