Indian Ocean nations work on integrated fisheries data collection
The representatives at the meeting spoke about the various aspects of observing the fisheries sector in their respective countries. (Gerard Larose)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Indian Ocean region is moving closer to a harmonised and integrated approach to collecting data for the fisheries sector.
This is being prepared through the meeting of a group of ECOFish National programme managers and observers at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay until Wednesday. The representatives are from countries with fishing operations in the region and the rest of the Indian Ocean.
During the meeting, the representatives spoke about the various aspects of observing the fisheries sector in their respective countries, in a bid to keep it sustainable, as well as examine the legal frameworks in their respective countries.
Fisheries observers in various countries are the officers who go on fishing vessels and observe and collect data on the fishing trip processes.
In his speech to officially open the meeting, the head of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), Jan Robinson, said that countries in the region had major weaknesses where reliable data is concerned in order to draft reliable policies.
He said that human fisheries observers will always be important as "they are our eyes and ears on the sea, who will always see things that advanced technologies have missed."
A monitoring, control and surveillance expert, Jude Talma, told SNA that the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) had sought the services of Cap Marine Ltd as consultants for 15 months to help draft a training programme for the various observers in the region.
"We want all the observers to have a certain level of training, and the training will vary from country to country," he said.
The Ecofish programme run by the Indian Ocean Commission, which was launched in 2022, aims at having in-depth research to produce reliable data. The programme encompasses all the aspects of ensuring the member states meet the set norms such as training, financing and information.
"It is important to properly equip the national observers so that the regional data collection may then be solid science that will help with sound policies to manage the fisheries fish stock," said Talma.
He added that once all the countries' representatives are trained to meet the set standards, they will then be able "to carry on with the data collection activity regardless of which waters they find themselves in. If for example, a Seychelles observer continues on a vessel in the Madagascar waters, they may then take the information collected and present them to the proper authorities."
He also said that it is expected that the fisheries ministers in the region will approve this initiative in their upcoming meeting next year.