WASHINGTON (CN) – The owners and operators of fishing vessels on the Pacific will be required to install and continuously operate a vessel monitoring system that will relay the exact location of the boat at all times to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The information will also go to the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC) authorities, according to new regulations published by the NMFS.
The regulations include new requirements related to permitting, vessel monitoring systems, vessel observers, vessel markings, reporting and recordkeeping, at-sea transshipment and boarding, and inspection on the high seas.
Vessel operators are not allowed to turn the system off, unless the vessel is in port, and can only do so after informing the NMFS. As a back up, vessel operators also must carry on board a communication device capable of transmitting position reports by telephone, facsimile, e-mail, or radio to the WCPFC in Pohnpei, Micronesia.
Vessels used for commercial fishing for highly migratory species on the high seas in the Convention Area also will be required to obtain a new NMFS-issued fishing authorization, called a “WCPFC Area Endorsement.” The new permit is in addition to all permits and authorizations required by other maritime agencies.
The WCPFC is an international organization whose mission is to conserve the fisheries of the western and central Pacific Ocean. The adoption of vessel monitoring system is a way for the convention’s members to crack down on rogue fishing vessels that operate without proper permitting and to prevent transshipment of fish from a vessel of one nationality to a vessel of another nationality to bypass national fishing quotas.