Pacific fisheries observers’ redeployment started on January 1, following the decision of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to lift the suspension of 100 percent observers’ coverage in its purse seine fishery due to the impacts of COVID-19 since 2020.

The decision was confirmed in the WCPFC meeting in December in Da Nang Vietnam.

According to the Provisional Outcome document of WCPFC regarding the COVID-19 Decisions Relating to Purse Seine Observer Coverage and At-Sea Transhipment Observers, the suspension is lifted by January 1, 2023, and the obligation comes into effect. 

The lifting of the ban also put into effect the guidelines needed to be followed in placing observers in vessels such as full vaccination of observers and COVID testing.

The obligations under the measure are the following:

-Requirements for entry and exit, including visa requirements, testing timeframes, quarantine time/costs for foreign travelers, and flight frequency and availability should be taken into account in the placement of observers on board vessels. 

-Observers and crew on fishing vessels and carrier vessels on which observers are placed should be fully vaccinated, subject to the granting of exemptions on medical grounds. Proof of vaccination or exemption may be required. 

– Requirements for COVID-19 testing of observers and replacement crew prior to boarding a vessel should be adhered to in line with the regulations applicable to those vessels.

-All interactions with other vessels and persons should be conducted in a manner that seeks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. (By: Island Times)

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