BY MAXINE KAMUS
Regionally, the fisheries sector loses US$600 million (K2.1 billion) per year due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.
National Fisheries Authority chief executive Justin Ilakini said this was according to a study in the Pacific region on revenue loss from IUU activities.
He said IUU fishing is a global problem that everyone in the region, including PNG, must work together to combat.
He said that in PNG the National Fisheries Authority has been working to alleviate the problem, but the vast 2.4 million square kilometer body of water is difficult to repair.
“Normally we have joint operations with our neighboring countries of Australia and New Zealand.
“We are working together to conduct surveillance operations using assets from New Zealand and also the Australian Defense Force to patrol our waters,” Mr Ilakini said.
“But it remains a big challenge for the fishing sector.
“I don’t know how well we protect our waters from this problem, but we are definitely losing money to IUU fishing.”
Mr. Ilakini said the NFA is doing its best to mitigate this problem as IUU fishing is a threat to the sustainability of the country’s marine resources.
Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Jelta Wong said he was aware of PNG’s vast and long coastline and the challenges of IUU activities which impact the sustainability of PNG’s resources.
Wong said he was pleased that the NFA had invested in fisheries management, a state-of-the-art fisheries information management system, including a vessel monitoring system, a well-developed observer program funded and partner programs with other PNG law enforcement agencies as well as regional partners through the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency to manage our resources.
“I want to see the NFA continue to use the latest technology available to monitor our oceans.
“This is an area that we as a nation need to continue to invest in so that we can have access to the best available technology and well-trained people,” he said.
“We also need to redouble our efforts to establish joint patrols with neighboring countries, which would include raising awareness of fishing laws and access rights, to minimize IUU activities by citizens,” said Mr. Wong.