Update on the use of Information Exchange in combating Illegal Fishing
In the Communique from the 2010 PILON Annual Meeting, members recognized the importance of facilitating information exchange, particularly law enforcement and fisheries information, in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and other emerging transnational crime in the Pacific. In this regard the meeting noted negotiation of the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA).
A Drafting Group for the NTSA was established an outcome of the joint meeting of Pacific Island country Ministers responsible for fisheries and law enforcement/justice held in Australia in July 2010. At this meeting, Ministers discussed the Forum Leaders’ 2009 directive that agreement be reached on the form of new legal arrangements for strengthened monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) mechanisms to protect regional fisheries, and on a roadmap for the negotiation process. Ministers directed officials to form a drafting group to progress the negotiation of a multilateral agreement under the Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the South Pacific Region providing for: (a) the exchange of fisheries law enforcement data; (b) cross-vesting of enforcement powers; and (c) use of fisheries data for other law enforcement activities. Ministers also agreed on a Roadmap for the negotiation process, which is to conclude no later than the end of 2012.
The Drafting Group is facilitating the negotiation of the NTSA, and the necessary implementation plans, by the end of 2012. The negotiation of a strong multilateral NTSA arrangement has the potential to complement the work of the Pacific Transnational Crime Unit Network and the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre. It will also support sharing of information by and with regional organisations including the Oceania Customs Organisation, the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police and the Pacific Immigration Directors’ Conference.
The Drafting Group’s 2011 update advises that significant progress toward the development of a draft agreement has been made. Drafting instructions were developed and discussed at meetings of the Drafting Group, and a final version of the instructions was agreed upon at its October 2011 meeting. These have been forwarded to the Parties to the Niue Treaty for their consideration and endorsement. The first draft of the text of the Agreement, based on the drafting instructions, will now be prepared for consideration at the next Drafting Group meeting in 2012.
The Drafting Group also had the opportunity to commence discussions on an operational mechanism for implementing the NTSA, which is intended to remove the need for any further bilateral or multilateral arrangements to implement the NTSA at the operational level, and to introduce flexibility for Parties to determine when and how they will apply the elements of the NTSA.
PILON members may request further details regarding or a copy of the 2011 update of the NTSA Drafting Group from the PILON Secretariat.