Measures Adopted To Protect Fishery Observers In Western, Central Pacific


imageBy Teresa Dawson

Following another recent disappearance, a regulatory commission finally takes steps to discourage abuse of observers aboard fishing vessels.

“How many observers or crew members have to die before WPCFC takes action? This must end!

Charlie, Keith, and all the other missing observers deserve better,” the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Bubba Cook told the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission at its annual meeting last month in Bali.

Charlie Lasisi, an observer from Papua New Guinea, disappeared in March 2010 while serving on a Philippine fishing vessel. Six crew members were tried for his murder. A Papua New Guinea court, however, found insufficient evidence to convict them.

Keith Davis, an American observer and Cook’s friend, disappeared last September while the Panamanian-flagged vessel he was working on was in the process of transshipping in the Eastern Pacific, which is governed by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Association. Both vessels involved also fish in the WCPFC region. An investigation is ongoing.

At the WCPFC meeting, a representative from Papua New Guinea, the region’s largest supplier of fisheries observers, said his government is investigating the disappearance of still other observers, but chose not to name them out of respect for their families.

For years, NGOs have been asking the commission to adopt stronger measures to protect the health and safety of the more than 600 fisheries observers in the region who record catch and scientific data and monitor compliance with the commission’s conservation and management measures. Read more.