Back from another mission in Majuro / by Francisco Blaha

Was a short but busy time in Majuro for my 3rd visit of the year under my position as Offshore Fisheries Advisor with MIMRA, a position I have since August 2017.

My much younger colleagues on all things boarding: Beau and Melvin. Awesome guys to work with.

My much younger colleagues on all things boarding: Beau and Melvin. Awesome guys to work with.

Is hard to misjudge how time consuming support to small fisheries organisations can be, as there are only a few people that pretty much need to do everything! Furthermore, insider knowledge from industry is hard to source to support fisheries authorities. So very few international organisations are in the position of NZMFAT with the vision and capacity to attach advisors in long term contracts with an organisation like MIMRA. I’m incredibly lucky to have the trust of my contractors and my local counterparts… working in Majuro is one of my most rewarding jobs as a consultant.

Anyway here is very short brief of what we did

Following on our Fisheries Port Operations Management strategy aimed to prepare our self for ratifying PSMA, we prepare the ToRs for the setting of a 2 new positions: a Port Operations Coordinator and Monitors and Data Entry Coordinator as well as a code of conduct for transhipments monitors.

We also started the testing of Hook Type Crane Scales with Wireless Remote Display for increasing the accuracy of our transhipment monitoring scheme, a video of the operations can be seen below.


I was ask by PEW to present and then be on a panel on PSM at the forthcoming Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, organised by IMO and the Government of Spain, Torremolinos, Málaga, Spain, 21-23 October 2019 to explain what we did in RMI as a model of the best practices for the region, and alternative to sign and then do... since we decided to do and then sign. 

While honoured, I don't think is right for a consultant to be representing the country he/she work with (even if invited by their counterparts). I'm all for supporting for behind... but talking for them is a big no in my book... So I facilitated my counterparts to go and present what has been done by themselves… I just helped a bit with some ideas.

I also prepared a self-assessment framework for assessment needs on MCS. The objective is to guide policy and training development for MIMRA on the MCS side, potentially supported by a MFAT OFA in the case of programme support renewal. 

I also further provided mentoring on Arriving Vessels Intelligence Analysis (AVIR) using VMS, FIMS and FFA data. The focus of the mentoring was on recognising vessel behaviours for FAD and non FAD sets, as a the mission took place during FAD closure  

A big part of my time there was taken on a topic I use to work a lot many years ago training people in the pacific: EU Market Access. I worked on the topic for over 10 years, wrote books about it! and trained many of my colleges here… so they are in charge now (it would be a very sad reflection of my training capabilities if I still work on the same area and do not step aside for my colleagues to take over). Yet what is do is to backstopping in case they need specific support, but I’m not doing the main job. 

So I been supporting my friend Aquina Rodgers, the former head of CA from PNG whom I trained 20 years ago when I’m started consulting, and we worked ever since. She is in charge of the incipient sanitary CA (Competent Authority), as we try to gain access to the EU market.

So I did and extensive review and critique of the 168 pages draft Industry Standards. And I drafted a contact letter to be sent to the EU to initiate the process to be included in the list of Commission Decision 2006/766/EC (Commission Decision of 6 November 2006 establishing the lists of third countries and territories from which imports of bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates, marine gastropods and fishery products are permitted) under section VIII: Fishery Products.

There are big hopes on this complex process.

I also provided support to mi colleagues to MIMRA for TCC and in particularly for the working group co-chaired in between RMI and US. My help focused was specific to the many various aspects of “Impracticability” as an exemption to the WCPFC’s Prohibition on Transhipment on the High Seas.

Outside work stuff it was my 2nd consecutive birthday that is spent in RMI, and my colleagues got a nice cake and made me feel like part of their work family… the human side of work is for me as important as the work one (or more)