FFA to look at tackling Pacific's "blue boat" problem

3:13 pm on 23 January 2017

Illegal unregulated and unreported fishing by so called Vietnamese "blue boats" in the Pacific will be the subject of a regional meeting to be hosted by the Forum Fisheries Agency in the first or second quarter of this year.

Blue boats have been caught fishing illegally in many countries over the past few years including Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and more recently in New Caledonia.

The director general of the FFA James Movick said the boats, which illegally targeted beche-de-mer, but also take an opportunist approach to other species, including clams, reef fish and shark fins, pose both a conservation and a sovereignty issue for Pacific Island countries.

Mr Movick said while national fisheries were outside the mandate of the FFA, it was worth exploring whether the sophisticated regional surveillance and monitoring system that had been set up for the tuna fisheries could assist Pacific countries.

"And it may very well be that we can't, that we don't, from the tuna side that we don't have the systems in place that would be able to cost effectively assist the island countries but at this point we are willing to encourage and facilitate that discussion and see what it is that we can do."

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