We as Pacifical PNA have been deeply saddened by the news of the death of one of our fellow countryman, Eritara Aati Kaierua from Kiribati, whilst working as a PNA MSC trained observer on board of the Taiwanese purse seiner Win Far No. 636. Our prayers, thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family.
Our PNA people have few resources and have taken on the vital task of daily caring, managing and closely monitoring their tropical tuna, caught by many vessels from foreign nations in our waters – an area that covers a surface 40% larger than Europe. The fact that the tunas in our waters are acknowledged as the healthiest and most sustainable globally, is a tribute to people like Eritara Aati Kaierua. Eritara who was part of a team of over 800 men and women observers, who cover 100% of purse seine operations by living on board, diligently observing and reporting on all fishing and on-board activity. Something hardly seen in EU or UK waters or in fact any other tuna RFMO globally.
Although not policemen, being on board comes at tremendous risk for observers. A sometimes dangerous and often challenging duty. These PNA citizens are away from their families for months at a time to fulfill their mission of custodians. Their work is vital in helping ensure that the tuna catch operations meet the MSC standard – the world’s highest standard for sustainable wild fishing.
Upon news of the tragedy and pending police investigations, PNA had immediately suspended the Win Far No. 636 from our MSC scheme, any catch from this vessel cannot become PNA MSC eligible.
We trust that the Kiribati authorities will do their utmost to determine the exact cause of death, and in case of a crime prosecute those responsible. Our team is following this very closely.
In the meantime, our observers will continue to be our eyes and ears at sea. They also report on social issues, however, we need to do more at a national level to enforce national laws, effect international social standards on purse seiners, and improve observer communications while at sea. We have fast-tracked a project to upgrade our current on-board Pacifical social guidelines for crews towards an enforceable standard for all at sea crew or observers. This will be subject to regular onboard audits.
We greatly appreciate, the dedicated efforts of PNA observers who work on about 250 purse seiners in the waters of our PNA Islands nations and in our ports, and we are thankful for all the media and NGO attention to this tragic event. We invite you to visit our observer page at pacifical.com/observers-voice and share it on your social media accounts.