FISHERIES inspectors, investigators and enforcement officers from across the Pacific headed home from Suva recently, after spending almost a month honing their investigative skills to help detect fisheries offences.
The fifth Pacific Islands Fisheries Evidence and Investigation Training Course (FETIC) ended in February at the University of the South Pacific’s School of Maritime Studies.
Participants followed through on lecture sessions with practical exercises to apply their new knowledge in a range of ways.
In final sessions, they held ‘Moot’ Court hearings to help them understand the importance of proper evidence gathering, and earlier in the course had participated in boarding and inspections of fishing vessels in Suva Harbour.
Former participants of the FETIC, now employed with the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests of Fiji, coordinated the boardings.
FETIC 2014 trainers were FFA Legal Advisor Pio Manoa and FFA Surveillance Operations Officer Peter Graham, joined by staff of the School of Marine Studies at USP, the annual fisheries training course for all member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.
The first two intakes were at Papua New Guinea’s National Fisheries College, Kavieng in New Ireland.
The regional fisheries training course is competency based, building the required technical knowledge and expertise for Fisheries Inspectors, Investigators and Enforcement officers enabling them to work more effectively.
The three-week study and training schedule helps them boost management of their national marine resources; identify offences in fisheries legislation; grow their understanding of evidence required for criminal prosecutions, and plan more effective investigations.
The FETIC is also made possible through funding contributions from Australia and the European Union funded DevFish II project.
Twenty-two participants attended the 2014 FETIC.
They hailed from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The host country Fiji also assisted the training, bringing in a senior crime scene investigator and staff from the police studies unit of the USP.
Five recently recruited fisheries officers and another with the Fiji Navy have also ensured strong turnout for the host country, joining their regional colleagues across Inshore Fisheries and Offshore Fisheries divisions, National Police Maritime Units, and general Policing.