Justino Helgen, Senior Fisheries Compliance Officer, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA).

PONPHEI/HONIARA (FFA) — Covid-19 has brought new, unexpected challenges to the Pacific fisheries sector according to Justino Helgen, Senior Fisheries Compliance Officer, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), National Oceanic Resource Management Authority (NORMA).
Speaking after attending our recent Covid-19 Operating Protocols for Fisheries Sector Regional Awareness Workshop Helgen said he now had to also focus on ways to prevent the pandemic entering his country via vessels.
“In my normal day-to-day work I focus on the Monitoring, Compliance and Surveillance (MCS) activities of fishing vessels and whether they comply with our national laws and regulations,” said Helgen.
“When COVID-19 broke out in 2020, our compliance division took up an extra role in reviewing and assessing all inbound fishing vessels coming into our ports for trans-shipment, ensuring that those vessels meet 14 days quarantine at sea if they had met any other vessels at sea for activities of bunkering, provisioning, crew exchanges, etc.”
“We are also responsible for ensuring that all fishing vessels calling to any FSM ports do comply with their reporting requirements such as 72hrs notice of transshipment in any FSM ports. This is to validate and ensure that all information provided prior to their arrival is correct and legitimate.”
Helgen from Pohnpei, joined over a 100 Pacific Fisheries, health, border protection professionals and industry representatives to hear from FFA and partner organisations about the Protocol that has been developed to help manage and minimise the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in the fisheries sector both at sea and in ports. The Protocol draws from existing international, regional and national mitigation protocol materials and COVID-19 Vaccines update in the Pacific It has been in place since August 2020. It is envisaged that a quarterly review will ensure it stays relevant and up-to-date.
“It was really useful to attend the workshop,” said Helgen.
“We heard about the regional health mitigation guidelines and the role of vaccines in providing protections for the Fisheries Sector. “I found the information provided about our MCS response useful in helping us to enhance our national COVID-19 response. FSM will utilise current VMS tools from PNA and FFA to conduct risk assessments on the movement of fishing vessels before coming in for transhipment.”
Helgen has been with the Fisheries Authority since 2009, and previously spent 13 years working for the FSM Maritime Surveillance, National Police on Patrol boats……PACNEWS

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