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Ocean Law Bulletins

A new set of minimum terms and conditions for crewing employment conditions in the Pacific

Sep 19, 2019 / by Kevin Chand and James Sloan posted in Oceans Law, Human Rights, human rights at sea, Flags of convenience, Labour standards at sea, human rights abuses at sea, Parties to the Nauru Agreement, UNCLOS, International Law, Commercial fishing, ILO Convention c188, Revocation of Fiji fishing licence, fisheries management, Crewing conditions on Commercial Fishing vessels, Forum Fisheries Agency, Environmental governance, Law of the Sea Convention, Migrant labour Pacific

Fish stocks around the world are in decline with a large proportion of this decline attributable to the widespread practice of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Declining fish stocks result in increased fishing efforts to make up the shortfall of catches and this often leaves fishing vessels operating beyond economic and ecological sustainability. Subsidized fishing fleets often backed by national governments are one way to skirt this economic inconvenience.

Tragically, another alternative is cost-cutting on the human side of commercial fishing. This results in poor working conditions for fishing crew, forced labour, slavery and even human trafficking. This forms a hidden subsidy of sorts for IUU fishing that impacts those directly responsible for catching fish and tainting the seafood that is supplied globally. The Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) which was established with the mandate to assist Pacific Island Countries manage their fishery resources is taking measures to address this oft-neglected aspect of fisheries.

FFA members lay claim to some of the richest tuna stocks globally. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states have sovereign rights to manage their 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This means that the right to issue licences and on what terms and conditions lies with these states and within their EEZ. In this legal bulletin we consider how the FFA is implementing a decision of its members to use licence conditions to better regulate working conditions on fishing vessels that operate in its waters.

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When can a fishing licence be revoked or refused for non-compliance with fisheries laws in Fiji’s fisheries waters?

Aug 30, 2017 / by James Sloan posted in Fiji fisheries, Fisheries Act, Revocation of Fiji fishing licence

A cornerstone of the regulation of Fiji’s inshore fisheries is that it is a criminal offence to engage in commercial or sports fishing in Fiji’s fisheries waters without a fishing licence.

At present, fishing licences for all areas of Fiji’s fisheries waters are granted and regulated by the Ministry of Fisheries under the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree 2012 and Offshore Fisheries Management Decree Regulations, 2014. However, for traditional fishing grounds (qoliqoli areas) the Ministry of Fisheries grants commercial fishing licences under the Fisheries Act 1942, and Regulations (as amended). The key difference is that before the Ministry of Fisheries will issue a licence to fish within a qoliqoli area a permit is required from the relevant Divisional Commissioner who before granting such a permit is required by law to consult with the holders of the traditional fishing rights for that qoliqoli area. Commercial fishing licences for Fiji fisheries waters outside qoliqoli areas do not require this additional pre-condition.

In this bulletin, we consider the powers of the Ministry of Fisheries to revoke an inshore fishing licence when the holder of the licence has not complied with Fiji’s fisheries legislation. This requires consideration of both the powers under Fisheries Act, 1942 and the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree, and principles of administrative law that underpin decisions to grant and revoke fishing licences.

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