Coastal Fisheries Programme

Number 143 (January–April 2014)

Produced by the Information Section, Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems, SPC, B.P. D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia. Fax: (687) 263818.

Produced with financial assistance from France, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union.


The number of active tuna fisheries observers in the Pacific islands region has been well over 400 per year since 2010, and keeps increasing (see article by Lawson et al. - pdf: ). This is a direct consequence of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s Conservation and Management Measure 2008–01, which prescribes 100% observer coverage of purse-seine vessels operating in the region. For an outside viewer it seems that all that needs to be done to achieve this goal is to hire people with a basic knowledge of what a fish looks like and send them on fishing cruises to record what they see. Piece of cake, right?

Not surprisingly, reality is quite different. A basic knowledge of what a fish looks like is clearly not enough when you need to identify dozens of different species, some of them looking very similar, and a fishing cruise is often anything but a cruise: it can be several weeks long in harsh and uncomfortable conditions among crew members who are not necessarily happy to be observed and may not speak the same language as the observer. Furthermore, accurate data is the cornerstone of good fisheries management, so the quality of the data provided by these observers, who are totally independent from the fishing companies, is essential for verifying the quality and accuracy of the data provided by the companies themselves.

Select the right people, train them to become qualified observers, verify the quality of the data they have collected at sea, organise the work of observers at the national and regional level — for all of these activities there is a need for qualified people. And this scale of qualifications has drawn a new career path (Observer–Debriefer–Trainer–National/Regional Coordinator) for young Pacific Islanders — an opportunity several of them have already firmly seized.

Aymeric Desurmont
Fisheries Information Specialist




Observer training session on a purse-seine vessel bridge in the Marshall Islands (image: Peter Sharples).

In this issue


  • A new Director for SPC’s FAME Division (pdf: )

  • Career paths for tuna fishery observers (pdf: )

  • Introducing an online sea cucumber fishery management system in French Polynesia (pdf: )

  • A long-term fisheries training programme for the Pacific (pdf: )

  • New video on sport fishing and new manual on sea cucumber processing techniques (pdf: )


  • The newly established Samoan multispecies hatchery is fully operational (pdf: )

  • Low-cost freshwater prawn aquaculture trial in Samoa (pdf: )

  • Vanuatu Fisheries Department opens freshwater aquaculture centre (pdf: )

  • Coral fish biodiversity loss: Humankind could be responsible (pdf: )

  • Combining natural history collections with fisher knowledge for community-based conservation in Fiji (pdf: )

  • The influence of processing techniques on the quality and nutritional composition of tropical sea cucumbers (pdf: )

  • Rakahanga fishery officer shares skills with students (pdf: )

  • Video technology improves data collection on longline fishing vessels (pdf: )


  • Territories Initiative for Regional Management of the Environment: A regional workshop for a common understanding of integrated coastal zone management
    by Delphine Leguerrier et al. (pdf: )

  • Positive results of a FAD monitoring programme in Yap
    by Michael Sharp (pdf: )

  • The development of recreational sports fisheries in the Pacific
    by Carl McNeil (pdf: )

Download the complete publication:

Fisheries Newsletter #143 (pdf: )


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