PEW Charitable Trusts —
The eastern Pacific Ocean is home to valuable tuna fisheries worth more than $5 billion each year. These stocks are managed by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), which is responsible for ensuring the sustainable management of tunas and other marine species, as well as enforcing rules to end and prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Transshipment is a key part of the seafood supply chain in which catch is transferred from a fishing vessel to a carrier vessel that then takes it to port, but management of transshipment is rife with loopholes, and IUU-caught fish can easily slip through the cracks.
For years, onboard fisheries observers have been the primary source of independent information on at-sea activity, collecting data on catch, transshipment, and more, and reporting rules violations and potential IUU activity to domestic authorities and regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) such as IATTC. But serving as an onboard observer is a risky job, and the casualty rate on fishing vessels is notoriously high. Observers can be at sea for months at a time, often without quick access to medical care or assistance if they are in a threatening situation.