Palau Closely Monitoring Foreign Fishing Vessels In EEZ

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Technology identifies numerous vessels transiting, fishing in country

By Jose Rodriguez T. Senase

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Jan. 26, 2015) – Palau is monitoring foreign fishing vessels transiting through its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with assistance from the "Project Eyes on the Sea".

The "Project Eyes on the Seas", which was recently launched by the PEW Charitable Trusts, is a novel technology designed to help authorities monitor, detect, and respond to illicit fishing activity across the world’s oceans.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), founded in 1948.

With over US $5 billion in assets, its stated mission is to serve the public interest by "improving public policy, informing the public, and stimulating civic life".

The technology analyzes multiple sources of live satellite tracking data and then links to information about a ship’s ownership history and country of registration, providing a dossier of up-to-the-minute data that can alert officials to suspicious vessel movements.

Purse seiners comprise a large group appearing in all sizes ranging from small boat to open ocean going vessels. Purse seiners are the most important and most effective vessels to catch aggregating species near the surface.

The vessel surrounds the shoal with a deep curtain of netting and then the bottom of the net is pursed (closed) underneath the shoal by hauling a wire which runs from the vessel through rings on the bottom of the net and back to the vessel.

According to a reliable source, five Taiwanese long-liners, a Japanese purse-seiner, a Korean vessel registered with gear to target squid currently appear within Palau's EEZ.

Long-liners are fishing vessels that utilize long-line fishing technique. Long-line fishing is a commercial fishing technique that utilizes a long line, called the main line, with baited hooks attached at intervals by means of branch lines called snoods.

A snood is a short length of line, attached to the main line using a clip or swivel, with the hook at the other end. Long-lines are classified mainly by where they are placed in the water column. This can be at the surface or at the bottom. Lines can also be set by means of an anchor, or left to drift. Hundreds or even thousands of baited hooks can hang from a single line. Long-liners commonly target swordfish, tuna, halibut, sablefish and many other species.

The source stated that Ching Chuen Fa 2, Ching Chuen Fa 10, and Fuh Fa 10 are authorized according to Palau's Dec 29th licence list. TheChing Chuen Fa 2 and Ching Chuen Fa 10 appear to be fishing. The Fuh Fa 10 is in transit.

It added that the longliner Hai Chien Hsing 20 is not on the Dec 29th authorization list but have been transiting directly through the EEZ.

The source also disclosed that the Japanese purse seiner Tokiwa Maru 3 is on the authorization list and currently appears to be in transit.

He also informed Island Times that two vessels have recently transited south into the EEZ. According to him, these vessels are the Sky Max 101, which is a Korean fishing vessel registered with the SPRFMO as using gear to target squid, and the Hua Seheng 636 which is also likely a fishing vessel though the vessels identity could not be confirmed.

Meanwhile, the same source disclosed that the Taiwanese longliner Shin Jyi Chyuu 33, which appears to have been fishing without authorization within Palau’s EEZ, was intercepted by Palau's patrol vessel just about 10 miles inside the EEZ boundary and is being escorted back to port.

He said the Shin Jyi Chyuu 33 was headed east toward the EEZ boundary when it was intercepted by Palau's patrol vessel PSS Remeliik.

The Taiwanese vessel reportedly had shark find on board. Shark finning is illegal in Palau, which created the world’s first shark sanctuary in 2009.

Every year tens of millions of sharks die a slow death because of finning. Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark’s fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea. The sharks starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown.

Shark fins are being "harvested" in ever greater numbers to feed the growing demand for shark fin soup, an Asian "delicacy". Shark fin soup (or shark's fin soup) is especially popular in China where it is usually served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets, or as a luxury item in Chinese culture.

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