The Vanuatu flagged fishing vessel, Essien No. 108, is continuing to fish this new year, after the threat of its blacklisting by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meeting in Nadi

,Fiji last December, is now over.

Department of Fisheries Manager Compliance William Naviti, confirms the Taiwanese longliner “is continuing to fish today somewhere in the Western and Central Pacific.”

In early December 2015, the Essien No. 108, was caught fishing illegally, without a license, in Cook Islands’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“About mid 2016, we (Vanuatu Government) received a report from the Cook Islands Government about the activity of the boat,” the Manager, Compliance explains.

At the same time also, the Cook Islands listed their complaint with the WCPFC for blacklisting of the vessel if the issue was not resolved by Vanuatu to the Cook Islands Government’s satisfaction. Two days before the 13th regular meeting of the WCPFC in Nadi, the Vanuatu Government paid $US186,000 (Vt20 million) in fines for the boat’s illegal activities to the Cook Islands Government.

The Cook Islands were satisfied with the payment and reported to the Commission meeting the issue had been resolved with Vanuatu and the boat was removed from being black-listed at its meeting.

Cook Islands’ head of delegation to the WCPFC meeting, Ben Ponio told the Daily Post the Cook Islands Government had received the money and it was happy with the progress taking place between Vanuatu and Cook Islands to resolve the issue before the boat got blacklisted by the Commission.

“For us Vanuatu is displaying its self as a responsible flag state and we are happy with the way the progress is going,” he had said. Two days later the Vanuatu head of delegation confirmed the positive progress on the issue.

The good news was reported to the Daily Post by the head of the Vanuatu delegation to the WCPFC meeting, the manager, compliance, Mr. Naviti following that development.

Blacklisting by the WCPFC would mean the Essien No. 108 would not be allowed to fish anywhere in it regions of jurisdiction, effective from the end of the Commission meeting in mid December 2016.

Vanuatu has 112 fishing boats registered to fish under its flag in oceans around the world. The number includes four purse seines and 70 longliners, Naviti has confirmed.

These vessels operate on one year or three year licenses and pay a fee of $US5,000 (Vt570,000) or $US15,000 (Vt1.7 million) a year depending on the type of boats.

Naviti explains the number of Vanuatu flagged ships can either increase or decrease and it can decrease if boats want to change flag, boat is old and owners want to sell it for scrap metal and buy a new one or if Vanuatu government decides they not want to continue to have a boat under its flag.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: Cell # 678 5460922

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