|Offshore Fisheries Division|
The Offshore Fisheries Division (OFD) is the technical and advisory arm of the Ministry on matters relating to Fiji’s offshore fisheries sector. The Division provides technical and policy support to its industry stakeholders and manages and regulates the sector as a whole in respect of the Offshore Fisheries Management Act 2012 and its Regulations of 2014.
The Division’s core objectives, in conformity with law, are:
- To conserve, manage and develop Fiji fisheries to ensure long term sustainable use for the benefit of the people of Fiji.
- To administer the Ministry’s principal function of and authority for the conservation, management and development of the fisheries resources in fisheries waters in accordance with all relevant instruments.
- To exercise or perform the functions, duties or powers conferred in a manner consistent with Fiji’s international and regional obligations relating to the conservation and management of fisheries resources in Fiji’s fisheries waters.
The Division is responsible for a vast range of issues and activities pertaining to the offshore fisheries sector. Responsibilities include those dispensed from national, regional and international developments, commitments and obligations. These include:
- To provide technical, policy and administrative support to the Minister for Fisheries, the Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and the Director for fisheries, on matters relating to policy, their functions and authorities, and other principles and measures as appropriate and in relation to offshore fisheries matters.
- To manage all activities and matters relating to offshore fisheries conservation, management and development, in various designated as well as exploratory fisheries, supported by sound fisheries management plans.
- To facilitate the development aspirations of Fiji’s offshore fisheries sector across its range of activities from the harvest sector to the post-harvest and post-production sector.
- To manage and control inputs and outputs into the offshore sector through effective licensing programmes and control measures as well as catch traceability schemes.
- To carry out effective fisheries monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement to ensure the operations of stakeholders are performed within the parameters of national law as well as in accordance with relevant conservation and management measures.
- To uphold the integrity of Fiji’s designated fisheries ports through effective port measures over all fisheries related activities in ports.
- To collect and manage all offshore fisheries data and related data within the Ministry’s jurisdiction for it various uses.
The Division maintains an active operational status due to the continual operations of its industry stakeholders. By virtue of daily and ongoing activities, it is imperative that the Division employs all available tools and methods to ensure there is efficiency and consistency in managing the activities of the offshore fisheries sector.
The division houses and manages various electronic systems such as vessel monitoring system (VMS) and Electronic Monitoring Systems (EMS). The latter is a new development with Fiji being the pioneer country for EMS trials on longline vessels under the GEF-funded Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project.
The Division manages the ‘Observer Programme’ for national and regional observers who serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ for managers when on duty on-board longline and purse-seine fishing vessels. Equally important are the authorised officers of the Division. Together, Observers and Authorised Officers ensure that activities relating to fishing, transhipment, bunkering, provisioning, and other relating activities are undertaken in a manner consistent with law and regulations.
The Division actively engages the region and Fiji’s bilateral partners in various enforcement operations. These occur through activities operated out of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) as well with neighbouring coastal States on a bilateral basis. These operations mainly involve at-sea boarding and inspection which has produced deterrence and awareness on the scale and range of entities operating within the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO).
On international issues, the Division continues to assist by providing diplomatic channels with advice on international trade related to fisheries, as well matters relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The Division offers its support to international processes for where fisheries is involved.
On the regional scale, the Division supports the Fiji Government by providing high-level advice on matters relating to fisheries negotiations which occur primarily under the umbrella of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). This includes all processes leading to, and at, the WCPFC Annual Sessions.
At the national level, the Division is primarily responsible for ‘hands on’ operational work through utilising VMS, EMS, observers