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Conservation and Management Measures (CMMs)

Conservation and Management Measures (CMMs) describe binding decisions agreed by the members (including all 14 Small Island Developing States, or SIDS) and cooperating non-members of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at their annual meetings. The latest updates to CMMs are maintained by WCPFC.

CMMs direct the Small Island Developing States’ policies and rules aimed at sustaining their fish stocks.

The Regional Observer programme

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures
  • The Regional Observer programme (ROP) uses observers to:
    1. collect verified and other scientific data
    2. collect information about Convention fisheries
    3. monitor how conservation and management measures are implemented.
  • The programme examines vessels which fish:
    1. exclusively on the high seas in the Convention area
    2. on the high seas and in waters under the jurisdiction of one or more coastal States
    3. in the waters under the national jurisdiction of two or more coastal States.
  • The programme:
    1. uses independent and impartial observers
    2. coordinates with other regional, sub-regional and national observer programmes where possible
    3. will be flexible to account for the nature of fisheries.
  • Observers will not interfere with the lawful operations of vessels and will minimise disruption to those 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, 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 States without permission when they are in waters under national jurisdiction of that State.

Transhipment observations

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.

Non-fish animal observations

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures

2008-03, paragraph 3, Sea turtles

  • Collect information on turtle interactions.

2012-07, paragraph 9, Seabirds

  • Monitor seabird interactions and record these in observer reports.

2011-03, paragraph 6, Cetaceans

  • Monitor cetacean interactions and record these in observer reports.

Various: Sharks

  • Sharks (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 shark (2011-04, paragraphs 3 and 5): monitor and record, including whether the sharks end up dead or alive, oceanic whitetip shark releases [note: the CMM requires all to be released], and collect biological samples from oceanic whitetip sharks that are dead on haul back, if the samples are for approved research projects.
  • Whale sharks (2012-04, paragraph 6): monitor cetacean interactions and record these in their observer reports.
  • Silky shark (2013-08, paragraphs 3 and 5): monitor and record, including whether the sharks end up dead or alive, silky shark releases [note: the CMM requires all to be released], 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 credit: Francisco Blaha

FADs and buoys observations

WCPFC reference
Brief summary of main measures
  • Estimate the species composition of fish to be discarded.
  • Collect a copy of a purse-seine fishing vessel discards report from the vessel operator.
  • Monitor and report vessel activities to do with [note: this is the responsibility of the vessel operator, but observers should be advised to monitor compliance]:
    1. fishing within one nautical mile of, or interacting with, a data buoy in the WCPO high seas
    2. retrieving and taking on-board a data buoy unless specifically authorised or requested to do so by the owner of the data buoy
    3. removing entangled fishing gear from data buoy
    4. operating within one 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
  • Observers have rights to access and use facilities and areas for fish; storing, processing and weighing fish; communications; working decks; vessel records and logs; hauling and setting times; clerical work; and food, accommodation, medical and sanitary facilities.
  • Observers have responsibilities to independence and impartiality; confidentiality; compliance with programme, country and vessel laws and rules; working in a way that does not interfere with vessel operations; communication with the captain and Commission.
  • Vessel operators and crew have rights of notice before an observer boards; notification if an observer has comments on the vessel’s operations; and review and comment on the observer’s reports.
  • Vessel operators and crew have responsibilities to accept observers; allowing and helping the observer board, complete their work, access facilities and equipment, and leave; giving the observer free food, accommodation, and medical and sanitary facilities; providing insurance for the observer while they are on board; and ensuring 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
  • Observers are essential for supporting effective management for fisheries’ sustainability, and it is critical to ensure their safety.
  • If an observer is missing or presumed fallen overboard, the vessel must immediately stop all fishing, start 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.
  • Additionally, 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.
  • Additionally, 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.
  • Additionally, 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 search 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 Secretariat. The SIDS will investigate the incident, take appropriate action, cooperate in investigations, and notify people of the results.