The 14th Intersessional Subgroup on the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization Observer Programme (ISSG SPRFMO-OP) Meeting took place on 22-24 January 2024 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The meeting was chaired by Irek Wójcik (POL) and Sieto Verver (NLD) and involved a total of 6 experts from 5 Member States (DEU, LTU, LVA, NLD, POL). The MS currently involved in fisheries activities and data collection in the SPRFMO area (DEU, LTU, NLD, POL) were represented in the meeting by their national correspondents.
The main purpose of the meeting was related to the accreditation procedure of the EU Observer Program in accordance with the requirements of the SPRFMO and to determine the effective preparation and implementation of other activities resulting from accreditation, including:
- review and updates to the observer manual,
- planning and setup of training workshops for EU observers,
- discussion on new multilateral agreement from 2025 onwards.
The initial pool of observers to be trained to work onboard EU vessels fishing in the SPRFMO area will consist of 10-12 observers. The already existing training materials will be further developed before the training workshop, to be organized in Poland at the NMFRI headquarters in Gdynia, dates to be decided (either spring or autumn 2024).
The group also discussed the basic organizational and technical principles of the new multilateral agreement regarding the joint data collection program in the SPRFMO region, which will be in force from 2025 onwards, together with the expected maximum budget of the joint EU observer program. Based on that discussion, a first version of the new multilateral agreement was drafted during the meeting.
The final text of the multilateral agreement regarding the joint data collection program in the SPRFMO region shall be ready for acceptance before the RCG LDF Technical Meeting in July 2024.
Through a very effective regional coordination of the required tasks for setting up an observer programme, the MS involved have succeeded in fulfilling the comprehensive demands of the SPRFMO accreditation in a short time frame. On the ISSG meeting, the MS undertook the next steps to implement the programme with a sound planning of the practical and administrative preparations for a successful start in 2025.