Micronesian domestic longline fleet joins WWF's Transparent Seas Project | WWF
Micronesian domestic longline fleet joins WWF's Transparent Seas Project

Posted on 16 May 2016

Micronesian domestic longline fleet joins WWF’s Transparent Seas Project
Port Vila, Vanuatu: At the 98th Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee meeting in mid-May in Port Vila, Vanuatu, where Pacific countries decide on management actions for Pacific tuna fisheries, the Federated States of Micronesia joined the WWF’s Transparent Seas Project by committing to install 12 Class A Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) on board their domestic longline fishing vessels. 
Through the Transparent Seas Project, global conservation organisation WWF seeks to improve the management and sustainability of fish stocks and marine ecosystems by increasing the transparency of governance, trade flows, and fishing industry behaviour through the AIS platform.
The Federated States of Micronesia’s National Oceanic Resources Management Authority (NORMA), with the support of the domestic longline tuna fleet, chose to participate in the Transparent Seas Project following a review of the project and its potential benefits.
“We saw very strong benefits to not only transparency, but also to safety at sea through participation in this initiative,” NORMA Executive Director, Eugene Pangelinan, said.
“We want the world to recognise that we are taking every necessary step to ensure that our fisheries are transparent and traceable, and above all, legal and sustainable,” Mr Pangelinan said.
WWF is supporting the purchase and installation of the AIS equipment used by NORMA in the Transparent Seas Project.
WWF’s Western Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Programme Manager, Bubba Cook said: “transparency and traceability of the seafood supply chain is quickly becoming a priority for many prominent seafood markets and NORMA’s commitment reflects a very progressive and proactive attitude toward achieving transparency in the region’s tuna fisheries.”
“We are very happy to have the Federated States of Micronesia and their domestic longline fleet involved in this project, which aims to reward participants for their voluntary engagement,” Mr Cook said.
“With technologies rapidly evolving and becoming much more accessible and affordable, technologies and partnerships such as this represent the forefront of traceability efforts to ensure seafood produced by fisheries involved in human rights abuses or other illegal activities does not enter the seafood supply chain.”
Mr Cook said AIS was a tracking system used to identify and locate vessels through transmission of position location and other data with other vessels, AIS base stations, and satellites.
“The AIS transponders, which include a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, specifically transmit the vessel’s position, speed and course, along with some other static information, such as vessel’s name, dimensions and voyage details,” Mr Cook said. 
The AIS system was initially and primarily intended to help vessels avoid collisions, as well as to assist port authorities to better control sea traffic, because it collects and transmits position and movement details.  More recently, satellite technology companies have begun to take this information and process it using special software to display vessel locations and other data using computer and Global Information System (GIS) platforms, which can then be used for other purposes such as monitoring for illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) now requires all vessels over 299 tonnes to carry an AIS transponder on board and is currently considering reducing the requirement to vessels over 99 tonnes. More recently, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) made AIS a licensing condition for all fishing vessels licensed to fish in FFA member state’s waters. New requirements for transparency are also driving advances in the development and use of various satellite-based technologies, such as AIS.
Notes to editors
1 The National Oceanic Resources Management Authority (NORMA) is the guardian and manager of the marine resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Federated States of Micronesia for people living today and for generations of citizens to come.
The Authority works to:
  • Ensure that these resources are used in a sustainable way.
  • Obtain the maximum sustainable economic benefits from the resources.
  • Promote economic security for the nation through their use.
2 The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) was established to help countries sustainably manage their fishery resources that fall within their 200 mile EEZs. FFA is an advisory body providing expertise, technical assistance and other support to its members who make sovereign decisions about their tuna resources and participate in regional decision making on tuna management through agencies such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).  The FFA works to strengthen national capacity and regional solidarity so its 17 members can manage, control and develop their tuna fisheries now and in the future.
Based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, FFA's 17 Pacific Island members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
3 The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations and is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.
Alfred “Bubba” Cook, Western Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Programme Manager, WWF. Email: acook@wwf.panda.org; +64 027 833 0537
Louisa McKerrow, Communications Manager, WWF-New Zealand. Email: lmckerrow@wwf.org.nz; +64 (0) 27 212 3103
AIS tracks of vessels with AIS devices
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