The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) said that it will lift the moratorium on the fisheries observer coverage in the region by January 2023.
In a Circular Memo in June, WCPFC stated that the suspension of fisheries observers’ coverage in purse seine vessels remains until December 31 this year.
Member nations of WCPFC said that the months of June to December will be a transitional period, with carrier vessel operators demonstrating that they have made their best efforts to embark an observer or to tranship in port.
“This includes requesting for an observer from observer provider(s) at least 30 days in advance of the planned trip. In the event that the vessel operator and the observer provider conclude that the observer deployment is not feasible.”
Although the suspension will be lifted, WCPFC said that while placing fisheries observers on boats will bring back their livelihoods, their safety should be prioritised.
The circular stated that observers and crew on fishing vessels and carrier vessels on which observers are placed should be fully vaccinated, subject to the granting of exemptions on medical grounds.
Proof of vaccination or exemption may be required and requirements for COVID-19 testing of observers and replacement crew prior to boarding a vessel should be adhered to in line with the regulations applicable to those vessels.
The suspension of 100% of fisheries observer coverage was initiated in March 2020 to protect observers from the pandemic. The Pacific Regional Islands Observer Programme is responsible for deploying observers on fishing vessels to collect data on effort and catch.