MARSHALL ISLANDS: Fisheries authorities from the Marshall Islands and Thailand signed an important memorandum of understanding in Bangkok recognizing that the reciprocal exchange of fisheries data is an area of critical importance that requires mutual collaboration.
In that sense, it is important to point out that tuna transhipments from fishing vessels to refrigerated carrier vessels in Majuro port are a vital element of the Pacific tuna fishery and the Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) efforts undertaken by Pacific Island countries.
Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) officials, and the NZMFAT Offshore Fisheries Advisor attended the 6th Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW) from 18 - 22 February 2019 in Bangkok.
There, the Marshall Islands team held bilateral discussions with the Thailand Department of Fisheries on issues of mutual interest, specifically, the signing of a fisheries cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The two parties recognize that Majuro, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), is the busiest transhipment port in the world, while Bangkok, in Thailand, is the largest port of reception and processing of tuna.
With the signing of the MoU, the RMI, through MIMRA, will now be able to receive verified weights of tuna catches that are transhipped in Majuro and offloaded in Bangkok from Thai fisheries inspection officers on a regular basis.
This will enable officers on both countries to trace the catch both ways to ensure its legality throughout the entire chain of custody thereby preventing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices. This verified information is vital to further understand the magnitude of the catch underreporting problem in the region.
MIMRA will provide relevant transhipment data to Thailand’s Department of Fisheries including estimation of volumes transhipped in Majuro port along with departure clearance of carrier vessels with full traceability of catch on board and hatch plan totals – information that Thailand has otherwise been unable to collect from Coastal States whose EEZs the catch is taken (in this case the port of Majuro where a large volume of the tuna that ends up in Bangkok, is transhipped from purse seine fishing vessels onto carrier vessels).
The memorandum is in line with the RMI's initiative to end IUU fishing in the Pacific. In this regard, the president of the Marshall Islands, Dr. Hilda Heine, highlighted last year that cooperation with a key player such as Thailand facilitates compliance with the obligations of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), which The Government of the Marshall Islands, through MIMRA, is considering signing and ratifying in the near future.