By GYNNIE KERO
PARTIES to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) says for decades, Pacific Islands fisheries officials have “driving blind” because of lack of information on the commercial tuna fisheries they were mandated to manage.
In a statement, it said catch data, vessel locations, transhipment activity, use of fish aggregating devices and more were controlled by fishing nations.
Little information was available to inform management decisions by island fisheries departments about their resources.
The Integrated Fisheries Information Management System (iFIMS), however, has revolutionised the management of the tuna fishery by the PNA, it said.
The system was initially developed by National Fisheries Authority (NFA) and now contains sections for data for the NFA, PNA, fishing industry and flag states that have oversight of fishing fleets.
“This is the world’s first information platform that integrates fisheries management, compliance and marketing,” said NFA vessel monitoring system manager David Karis, who developed the web-based platform.
At last week’s PNA ministers’ meeting in Honolulu, Fisheries Minister Patrick Basa announced that Papua New Guinea was planning to buy the information management system for the PNA.
According to PNA, the PNG government was expected to confirm the iFIMS purchase this week.
Prior to electronic reporting, it can take three to four months for daily catch logs filled out by purse seine vessel captains to get to fisheries managers in the region.
“Now, through iFIMS, we have this information in real time,” Karis said.
“About 240 purse seiners are reporting real time catch data daily.”
Karis described iFIMS as “a one-stop shop for fisheries management”.
By early next year, Karis said, at least 275 fisheries observers would be feeding catch data into iFIMS from their electronic tablets.
This will continue expanding until the entire Pacific observer force of about 800 is performing electronic reporting to iFIMS.
The PNA controls the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery.
Members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
By GYNNIE KERO