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Conservation and management measures (CMMs)

Conservation and management measures (CMMs) describe binding decisions agreed on by the members and cooperating non-members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at its annual meeting. These two groups and a third, participating territories, are known collectively as CCMs. Among the members are the 14 small island developing states (SIDS) of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

WCPFC maintains updates to the CMMs.

CMMs direct the SIDS’ and other members’ policies and rules for managing tuna fisheries, including the work and wellbeing of observers.

Regional Observer Programme

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures
  • The Regional Observer Programme (ROP) uses observers to:
    – collect verified and other scientific data
    – collect information about convention area fisheries
    – monitor how CMMs are implemented
  • The ROP examines vessels that fish:
    – exclusively on the high seas in the convention area
    – on the high seas and in waters under the jurisdiction of one or more coastal states
    – in waters under the national jurisdiction of two or more coastal states
  • The ROP:
    – uses independent and impartial observers
    – coordinates with other regional, sub-regional and national observer programs where possible
    – will be flexible to account for the nature of fisheries
  • Observers will not interfere with the lawful operation of vessels and will minimise disruption to operations
  • Observers need freedom and safety to carry out their duties without undue interference
  • SIDS must source observers, make sure there is enough data gathered, explain the duties of observers to captains, cooperate in exchanging information collected by observers, and meet any other observer data obligations (such as measures of catch retention, FADs or transhipment)
  • Vessels that operate mostly in coastal waters can carry observers of their own nationality if those observers have been authorised
  • Observers will not collect data about a state without permission when they are in waters under the national jurisdiction of that state
  • Each purse-seine fleet of each country is to carry an observer from the ROP. Observers shall collect data, including on stock assessments and FAD closures, for use in WCPFC analysis.
  • Traditional fresh and ice-chilled fishing vessels from the Philippines operating in High Seas Pocket 1 will employ an observer on board for the duration of the fishing operation

2006-07, Establishment of a regional observer programme

  • Sets out the procedures to develop the Regional Observer Programme

Transhipment

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures
  • Observers will monitor transhipment activities and have access to both the unloading and receiving vessels so they can verify the catch
  • They will confirm, where possible, that transhipped quantities of fish are consistent with other measures
  • Observers should not transfer between vessels

Particular endangered animals (bycatch)

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures

2018-04, paragraph 3, Sea turtles

  • Collect information on turtle interactions, and report on these as agreed by the WCPFC

2018-03, paragraph 12, Seabirds

  • Monitor seabird interactions and record these in observer reports

2011-03, paragraph 6, Cetaceans

  • Monitor cetacean interactions and record these in observer reports

Sharks

  • CMM 2019-04, on sharks, will come into effect on 1 November 2020 (and 1 November 2021 for Indonesia)
  • Sharks generally (2010-07, paragraph 7): monitor that vessels carry no more than 5% of the weight of sharks as fins, up to the first point of landing
  • Oceanic whitetip sharks (2011-04, paragraphs 3 and 5): monitor and record, including whether the sharks end up dead or alive, and collect biological samples from oceanic whitetip sharks that are dead on haul back if the samples are for approved research projects. Note: the CMM requires all to be released.
  • Whale sharks (2012-04, paragraph 6): monitor cetacean interactions and record these in their observer reports
  • Silky sharks (2013-08, paragraphs 3 and 5): monitor and record releases, including whether the sharks end up dead or alive, and collect biological samples from silky sharks that are dead on haul back if the samples are for approved research projects.

Observers are essential for transhipment monitoring. Photo: Francisco Blaha.

FAD and buoys

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures
  • Estimate the species composition of fish to be discarded
  • Collect a copy of purse-seine fishing vessel discards report from the vessel operator

2009-05, paragraphs 1, 3, 5, and 7, Prohibiting fishing on data buoys

  • The following are the responsibility of the vessel operator, but observers should monitor compliance to:
    fishing within 1 nautical mile of, or interacting with, a data buoy in the WCPO high seas
    retrieving and taking on board a data buoy unless specifically authorised or requested to do so by the owner of the data buoy
    removing entangled fishing gear from data buoy
    operating within 1 nautical mile of a data buoy, when authorised by the Commission to participate in scientific research programs

Rights and responsibilities of observers, operators, captains and crew

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures

2018-05, Regional Observer Programme
(Observers)

  • Observers shall collect catch and scientific data, monitor the implementation of CMMs and other rules
  • CCMs shall ensure that fishing vessels are prepared to take on board an official observer, and shall cooperate in the sharing of information gathered
  • Observers have the right to carry out their work safely
  • Observers have the right to access specified facilities, equipment and areas of the vessel, including:
    – communication and other equipment needed
    – the working deck
    – vessel records and logs
    – hauling and setting time
    – space to complete clerical work
    – food, accommodation, and medical and sanitary facilities
  • Observers have a responsibility to:
    – be independence and impartial, and to maintain confidentiality
    – comply with ROP rules, country and vessel laws and rules
    – work in a way that does not interfere with vessel operation;
    – communicate with the captain and WCPFC

2018-05, Regional Observer Programme
(Vessel operators, captains and crew)

  • Vessel operators, captains and crew have the right to:
    – prior notice of an observer being placed on board
    – notification of an observer’s comments, and the captain has the right to review and comment on the observer’s reports
    – assign a crew member to accompany the observer
  • Vessel operators, captains and crew have responsibility to:
    – accept observers
    – allow and help the observer to board, complete their work, access facilities and equipment, and leave
    – give the observer free food, accommodation, and medical and sanitary facilities
    – provide insurance for the observer while they are on board
    – ensure the observer has freedom and safety to carry out their duties
  • Vessel crew additionally must comply with captain’s directions about observers and their duties

Safety of observers

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures
  • If an observer is missing or presumed fallen overboard, the vessel must immediately stop all fishing, start a search and rescue, notify appropriate people, alert other vessels nearby, cooperate with search-and-rescue and official authorities, report on the incident and take part in investigations, preserve any potential evidence and the observers’ quarters/effects
  • If an observer is or may have been assaulted, intimidated, threatened, or harassed, the vessel must preserve their safety, resolve the situation on board, and get them off at an agreed time and place if they wish to leave
  • If an observer is seriously ill or injured, the vessel must care for them, provide medical treatment on board, and get them to an appropriate medical facility as soon as possible
  • If an observer dies, the vessel must preserve the body for the purposes of an autopsy and investigation
  • SIDS must facilitate entry for vessels so that observers can get medical treatment or get off, help with any investigations if requested, cooperate in searches and rescues, and report to appropriate authorities and observer providers
  • If an observer provider identifies possible violations during a debriefing, the provider must notify the SIDS and WCPFC Secretariat. The SIDS will investigate the incident, take appropriate action, cooperate in investigations, and notify people of the results.