Real or near-real time management of Pacific purse
seine tuna fisheries is now possible for the first time in
history, changing the game for fisheries
Observer electronic reporting tools - through the new Observer
eReporting App -will now be used to help reduce illegal,
unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and bolster supply chain
transparency and traceability in the Western and Central Pacific
A 2016 analysis conducted by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries
Agency (FFA) showed that nonreporting, misreporting and
underreporting represented the greatest proportion of IUU
fishing, resulting in a $600 million loss for the region.
"Transparency and traceability are crucial for good fisheries
management, and this technology was a significant step towards
combating IUU and securing sustainable fisheries," said WWF's
Western and Central Pacific Tuna Program Manager, Bubba Cook.
"Up until now, Pacific fisheries observers only had pen and paper
to make their recordings. This initiative should serve as the
catalyst for expansion of these kinds of technologies in the
region, which are designed specifically to address the increasing
challenges of IUU fishing."
Cook continued, "Once this technology becomes standard and
widespread in the region, it should ratchet down IUU to
negligible levels when used effectively with other existing and
emerging monitoring, control and surveillance technologies - as a
driving force in improving the way that oceans are managed."
From 2015, WWF has supported the trial and implementation of the
Observer eReporting App developed by Integrated Fisheries
Information Management System (iFIMS), into a durable hardware
platform. The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), a
sub-regional governance body that controls the world's largest
sustainable tuna purse seine fishery, was the first in the region
to adopt this technology as part of their fisheries observer
The initiative places ruggedized tablet computers and Rock7
Satellite Personal Communication Devices (PCDs) into the hands of
fisheries authorities, so they can better monitor fish catches
and, in turn, verify and validate catch records and regulatory
requirements such as Vessel Days at Sea allocations. The hardware
will support one of the most prominent information management
systems in use in the Western and Central Pacific at this time:
"We're proud to be part of this initiative and see the RockSTAR
personal communication device as an important tool for near real
time reporting of catch and other activities at sea, as well as
supporting safety at sea with two-way communication," said Nick
Farrell, a Director at Rock7.
The PNA is fully engaged and committed to expanding the work
toward better information for management and enforcement
purposes. The PNA maintains 100 percent observer coverage of all
purse seine fishing operations and, with support from WWF, the
PNA Observer Agency has 100 percent electronic PCD communications
for their observers with an aim of 100 percent electronic
reporting by observers through rugged tablets paired with the PCD
by the end of 2018.
"The transition to fully electronic reporting, from vessel
logbooks to observer reports to port inspection represents the
logical step toward full verification and validation of our
supply chain in a real time basis," said PNA's Commercial Manager
With roughly 60 percent of global tuna catches, the western and
central Pacific Ocean is home to a variety of tuna species that
supply markets around the world. Estimates have put the value of
the fishery as high as $7.2 billion in recent years.
The role of observers has become extremely important for not just
scientists in ascertaining the stock levels of the fishery but
for compliance. The data they send to authorities helps to
understand the state of the fish stock as well as helping with
compliance with fishing rules.
Given the critical role observers play, Pacific nations and other
organizations need every tool available to ensure they can
operate safely and effectively.