Workshop addresses Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Activities in Tonga

Participants from government line ministries are attending a workshop that is aimed at developing a standard operative procedure to put into practice the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA) that Tonga ratified last year.

A statement said the workshop will help participants develop their knowledge on the agreement to enhance cooperation between the Pacific Island countries in addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

Training facilitator Mr. Allan Rahari of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) said developing procedures would help Tonga manage the agreement which would benefit the country at a national and regional level.

“So the work this week is developing a standard operative procedure so that Tonga can operationalize or put into practice the actual agreement they’ve ratified. So by the end of the week we will have a procedure in place that Tonga Fisheries will consider and perhaps take it for further discussions with other line agencies and then go for the approval process,” he said.

“The benefit to Tonga is that it will help them implement the treaty not only at a national level but the bigger benefit will be to the region as it helps to address issues around illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity in the region.”

Acting CEO for Fisheries Compliance Division Ms. Losilini Loto’ahea said Tonga has benefitted from the ratification of the NTSA.

 “We now can access to facilities needed to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Tonga through ratifying the NTSA with the assistance of our neighbouring countries such as sharing of data and in terms of emergency.”

“Through this system, we can request for assistance from Australia or New Zealand regarding investigation on illegal fishing or further assistance on a matter which is beyond our control. It is also through this system, that we can be able to identify the available resources from each countries which can assist us if requested.”

The cooperation between the member countries was strengthened through NTSA and it gives commitment to NTSA parties to share intel, data and national resources to combat illegal fishing in the region.

Tonga is the 7th member country to ratify NTSA including Cook Island, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Similar trainings have been conducted in Samoa and Tuvalu funded by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and FFA.