The Fisheries Observer Program started in international organization that promote responsible fisheries and will play an important role in the conduct of monitoring control and surveillance activities. It is composed of 31 member countries in the Western and Central Pacific Area, namely; USA, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, France, European Community, French Polynesia, Wallis & Futuna, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa - Australia, Cook islands, Tonga, Niue, New Zealand, Samoa, Tokelau, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Kiribati, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
Since, the Philippines is one of cooperating country in the Commission, the international organizations calling a pressure for the conservation and management of declining fisheries stocks in local and international marine waters. The government is actively support the fisheries program through the responsibilities of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) they proposed the Fisheries Observer’s Program in late 2006 but due to the processing and consulting to the program experts and selection of coordinating councils it was delayed. However, in 2008 to 2009 the proposal is approved and the line bureau was conducted a “Fisheries Observer Program Training Course” (1st Batch) last May 17 to June 12, 2009 which the target participants initially are thirty (30) Technical Staff of BFAR including the Regions. Three certified Philippine Fisheries Observer’s was deployed in the 1st batch, two observers in Philippine territorial waters and one observer at the High Seas. To develop and verify the operational program, recruiting of Fisheries Observers are demand in accordance with the requirements of Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) 100% deployment of certified observer on 2010. The 2nd batch was conducted last October 27 to November 21, 2009 which compose of BFAR Technical Staff including regions and Academic Institutions with preferred BS Fisheries graduate or Natural Sciences.
What is Fisheries Observer Program?
A Fisheries Program is responsible for providing the training and support necessary for deploying observers on board fishing vessels in order to collect the fisheries-dependent information essential to achieving the management objectives of the program. (UNCLOS Provisions 1.A)
What is Fisheries Observer?
A Fisheries Observer is an independent specialist who serves on board commercial fishing vessels or in fish processing plants and other platforms and is employed by a fisheries program, either directly by a government agency or by a third party contractor. Observers are usually the only independent data collection source for some types of at-sea information, such as bycatch, catch composition and gear configuration data. (UNCLOS Provisions 1.B)
The Fisheries Observer Program is conducting training in line with the government’s thrust of developing world-class Filipino Workforce. It is tailored-fit to the workforce in the fishing industry, being the primary client of the Center who will deployed to the different private purse seine and longline fishing vessels in compliance with the fisheries management measure being implemented by the WCPFC.
Moreover, the trained Fishery Observers shall complement the existing Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Program of the country to combat Illegal Unreported and Regulated Fishing (IUUF). The project shall also contribute to the policy making body of BFAR to implement its fishery management projects. The project can also be a source of job opportunity for the Filipinos to work abroad complementing the 10 Point Agenda of President Gloria Arroyo of jobs creation as the Observers shall be certified by the WCPFC and can be included part of the “Cadre of Observers” that the Commission maintains.
The training course for Fisheries Observer Programme is a 26-day live-in training program which shall be held at the BFAR-MCS Station and Fishing Technology Laboratory, NBBN, Navotas City.
The program includes six (6) major components that would be needed to satisfy the scientific and monitoring compliance of the vessels, namely:
- Preparation of Observers which discusses safety and basic navigation and seamanship as well as Radio Communication Skills;
- Relevant International and Philippines Regulations that will tackle relevant international and national laws/instruments;
- Regional Observer Program to give the duties and responsibilities and Terms of Reference of observers as well as the vessel operators and crew;
- Form Instructions for the different cards that will be filled-up including Observer Trip Reports;
- Data Collection and Verification which included briefing of observers; and
- Practical and shipboard operation onboard M/V DA-BFAR
The training methodologies shall be lecture, discussion, written and shipboard operation.
- Operation of the Fisheries Observer Management Office (FOPMO)
- Establishment of Observer Program Database
- Data entry, Maintenance, Analysis
- Develop safety policy manuals and procedures
- Recruitment, training, certification and authorization of fishery observers
- Deployment of Philippine Observers to High Seas and National Waters
- Maintenance of Cadre of Observers
- Briefing, Deployment and Debriefing of Observers to fishing vessels
- Collaboration with WCPFC Regional Observer Program
- Conduct of Training
- FAO Drafting
- Consultation meetings with private sector