Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, sent a stern message on International Day against Illegal, Unreported & Unregulated (IUU) Fishing commemorated earlier this week on June 6th.
The Minister highlighted the impacts of llegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, identified as the main driver of depleted fisheries around the world being over-exploited.
“It has the potential to affect the food security of coastal communities who rely heavily on fisheries resources for their sustenance and their livelihoods,” stressed the Minister.
Laaulialemalietoa said illegal fishing, when allowed to go unreported and unregulated, can negatively impact on opportunities for sustainable economic development for small island developing states around the world.
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing or commonly known as IUU, are generally, fishing activities that:
i) Are carried out without proper authorizations, licenses or permits,
ii) Whose catches are not reported or are misreported
iii) Are carried out in the absence of any regulation to control that particular fishery.
In Samoa, we have faced many challenges and have developed measures to address IUU fishing, said the Minister.
“The challenges cover a broad spectrum of fisheries ranging from commercial fisheries that are important for our economic developments to artisanal and subsistence fisheries that are critical for the food security and livelihoods of our coastal village communities”.
The Minister stressed the need to ensure that sustainable fisheries is a priority for Samoa as it contributes to the achievements of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 and particularly 14 – Life Below Water.
“As with many other countries in the world, IUU Fishing is a threat to achieving Sustainable Fisheries for Samoa,” said Laaulialemalietoa. “In recognition of this threat, the Government of Samoa has joined Regional Advisory Agencies and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to collectively manage highly migratory fish stocks that are important in the Pacific region and Samoa.”
The Minister sad one of the strategies Samoa has taken on the domestic level, is for the government to work collaboratively with coastal village communities to promote a co-management approach for our coastal fisheries resources.
This has resulted in the inception of Samoa’s Community Based Fisheries Management Programme (CBFMP).
“The participation of Samoa to regional fisheries bodies and the collaboration with coastal villages through its Community Based Fisheries Management Programme have assisted the government in guiding the development of various Monitoring, Control, Surveillance and Enforcement tools,” said the Minister.
“The MCSE tools used have extended from the first centralised regions satellite based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), to wide-ranging agreements and innovative systems to share data and intelligence and supportive mechanisms that allow us to share our limited surveillance assets..
“These are united with robust systems for data collection, including well developed programs for the placement of fisheries observers on fishing vessels and support and coordination from regional agencies with the overall aim to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing from occurring in Samoa’s fishery waters..
“Similar to many other Small Island Developing States, having access to financial resources and technical capacity to support our fight against IUU fishing is a challenge,” said the Minister.
“I would like to encourage our regional partners to collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in identifying areas where external assistance can be of most value in refining and strengthening our approach so we continue to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU Fishing”.
The Minister also highlighted that as Samoa Fisheries operates in a very dynamic environment, new and emerging challenges in the fight against IUU fishing are expected.
“We should not be complacent in our role as custodians of our fisheries resources and oceans for our future generations, so they can enjoy the benefits that we are enjoying now from these resources”.
“We would like to join our Global Family through the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation, to mark this day the international Day against IUU Fishing”.