A day at the Fisheries Office in Noro / by Francisco Blaha

Today I will just like to show you a simple day at the fisheries office in Noro (Solomon Islands) where I’m working. No boats landing today so is time to catch up on paperwork plus the verification of the information we collect on a daily basis.

While most of the fisheries news we read are calamitous, I’m very fortunate to know different because of my work. Yes, there are bad apples in every barrel no one denies that… but there are even more people, like the ones I’m presenting you today, that do their best with whatever little they have, and with all the faults we all have, to control the fisheries to the law and help to create the compliance framework that sustainability requires.

Charlene is the key player in the data collection and volumes verification (mass balance) for all landings and Catch Certificates originating from SI flagged vessels. She studied Marine Affairs and Geography at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Fiji and had been with the Ministry for five years initially as tag recovery officer and now as a Fisheries Officer.

Derick is the chief officer here, he has been with the ministry for nine years and is the responsible for the operations of the office. Before taking over the office, he was in charge of the observer programme. He also has a background in Marine Affairs at USP, (and we share the Dub and Reggae duties in the office!)

Stanley has been with the ministry (and prior incarnations) for an amazing 34 years, and he brings a wealth of experience to the office… he has seen every potential issue and infractions in the fisheries book at least five times.  I have known him for a long time now, and I still have to see him in a bad mood or grumpy… he is a legend!

John has been a fisheries observer for seven years and in that capacity has a lot of experience of what happens in the vessels, he is associated with this office as an official monitor of the volumes of the unloads next to the scales at the wharf. He does this times off his at sea work. I found that observers are extremely well trained for that work, as they have the discipline to spend longtime at the scales and the knowledge on species identification.

We have 1 more officer, Jamie but he is in Honiara at the present, and from next week we will be training 7 new junior officers to supplement this group in the new office.

Again, nothing spectacular, or news breaking about this post. Just good people doing their vital job, the best they can, in a Least Developed Country like the Solomon Islands… and this in itself is admirable.