4 May 2017

Pacific leaders urged to pressure Vietnam on poaching issue

1:53 pm on 4 May 2017

Pacific leaders are being urged to increase the pressure on Vietnam to accept responsibility for its fishermen poaching beche de mer and other marine resources in coastal waters.

This comes after reports that Vietnam has been receptive to complaints from Australia about the poachers while being dismissive of the complaints from Pacific countries.

Government officials of affected countries, (including Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands), were hosted in Australia this week by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Pacific Community to try and come up with a consolidated regional approach to the poaching.

Vietnamese blue boats seized on Sunday in Solomon Islands Rennell and Bellona province, for allegedly fishing illegally off of Indispensable Reef, dock at the Patrol Boat Base in Honiara on Wednesday 29-03-2017.

These blue boats were seized in Solomon Islands in March Photo: RNZI/Supplied by Frank Aote’e

The FFA's director general James Movick said participants have come up with a range of measures that they believe regional leaders should adopt at the Pacific Islands Forum meetings later this year.

"The ministers will make that decision but we will be recommending that they do raise it to the highest possible level of diplomatic engagement so that the Vietnamese government gets a clear message from the collective Pacific Islands party group," Mr Movick.

Also in attendance at the meeting in Australia were representatives of the US Coastguard and the defence forces of Australia, New Zealand and France who assist the Pacific countries with maritime surveillance of the regional fishery.

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