With the support of WWF, the Vietnamese Department of Capture Fisheries and Resource Protection (DECAFIREP) conducted a 5-day observer training, as part of the on-going Handline and Longline Yellowfin Tuna Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). The training was attended by 10 trainees, from all 3 provinces participating in the FIP (namely Binh Dinh, Khan Hoa and Phu Yen).
The purpose of the training was to provide trainees with the necessary knowledge and skills to be observers of fishing activities at sea. These skills mainly include species identification, data form recording and safety-at-sea training. The observer program in Vietnam is currently very limited due to limited government capacity. This observer training is the first one of a series of training scheduled to take place during 2015 and will help reinforce the tuna observer program in Vietnam, which in turn is supporting the FIP in meet specific FIP Action Plan milestones. The FIP Action Plan has set a goal of 5-10% observer coverage, and to ultimately help ensure Vietnam meets its catch reporting requirements (including reporting of bycatch) as set out by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
Observers collect crucial information that is not collected otherwise through other data collection methods (logbooks, port sampling). Data collected by observers include target catch species, non-target catch species, discarded catch (catch caught by the fishing gear but not retained on board), details on fishing operations and interaction with Endangered, Threatened and Protected Species. Observers may also take on the role of teaching fishermen how to use turtle dehookers and dip nets.
The profession of observers is a hazardous one due to lengthy and difficult conditions at sea and the hazardous nature of fishing operations. This is why observer training also includes a number of modules related to safety-at-sea and first-aid rescue.
Following the training, the trained observers were deployed on tuna fishing vessels to conduct their first trips. The debriefing of observer with local DECAFIREP staff is planned for February 2015, during which the data collected will be assessed and interpreted. Debriefing will also give the opportunity to trained observers to provide DECAFIREP with feedback on the applicability of the training and potential improvements. The data collected will assessed for quality- especially against the regional standard for data collection (WCPFC).
Five fishermen followed the training from the province of Phu Yen, where Anova is focusing its improvement efforts.
This initial training and at-sea deployment represents the initial steps of what is envisioned as a multiyear program of steadily expanding and building capacity for at-sea observer program. Similar training sessions are planned for 2015, including sessions directly support by industry FIP Partners. Anova has committed to support future observer training sessions.
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