WWF cite charity’s work in Pacific Fisheries Crew Welfare Licence Initiative

Press Release

18th May 2019

London. UK. The recent Human Rights at Sea and NGO Pacific Dialogue Fijian fisheries case study about Mesake Kaisuva by his widow Salote Kaisuva, has been used by WWF Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Team to brief the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Working Group (MCSWG) supporting positive changes for the implementation of a crew welfare licensing minimum terms and conditions.

WWF lead, Bubba Cook, cited to the charity the leadership role by the FFA on the issue, and that last week the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee (FFC) approved the minimum licensing conditions for crew welfare in the region.

WWF have been pushing this initiative for more than a year as an extension of their work on Observer Safety and Security, with the first significant provision on the issue being a presentation Bubba in October 2018 to the Management Objectives Consultation of the FFA highlighting the global media coverage and case studies on abuses in the Pacific region fishing industry, including those from Human Rights at Sea.

Bubba said: “In April 2019, I provided an intervention on the HRAS report on Mesake Kaisuva to the FFA MCS Working Group and offered the report as an information paper. Subsequently, it was cited a couple of times by Member States in interventions supporting the implementation of a crew welfare licensing minimum terms and conditions (MTC), most notably by Fiji. The MCS Working Group consequently forwarded the recommendation to the Forum Fisheries Committee, who agreed to adoption of the proposed MTCs last week, which represents the first instance of its kind where a fisheries institution has attempted to address crew welfare and human rights. The FFC’s recommendation will now go forward to the FFC Ministers.”

Human Rights at Sea Founder, David Hammond, commented: “It is reassuring to know that the charity’s independent work and investigations alongside key partners is being positively used to influence State-level decision-making for the betterment of crew welfare provisions in the Pacific region, and we thank WWF for their engagement.”

Coming Up. Human Rights at Sea will be shortly issuing another detailed case study on the effects on Fijian tuna fishermen of dangerous working conditions resulting in life-changing injuries.

Fishing: A Family Perspective of deceased Fijian crewman who worked on Taiwanese Longliners

This is the first-hand testimony of the widow of a Fjian crewman who died after thirty years of operating as crew on board Taiwanese Longliners fishing vessels. The case study highlights the conditions and challenged faced by fishing crews and the effects on their family members, left behind after the loss of the main source of family income. The study aims at educating those who do not understand the background to, and context of, commercial fishing in the Pacific.


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Alfred “Bubba” Cook has spent a lifetime on the ocean and the last 17 years working in fisheries conservation and management. At age 18, he joined the United States Navy’s Nuclear Power Programme, which took him around the world and sparked an interest in global affairs and, especially, international fisheries. Troubled by fishery declines he observed at home and abroad, he sought out an education focused on fisheries policy and law. In 2000, he received a B.S. degree in Fisheries and Aquaculture from Texas A&M University followed in 2003 by a J.D. with a certificate in Natural Resource Policy and Environmental Law from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, making him well suited to take on complex policy initiatives in large-scale fisheries. After law school, he was hired by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska where he led a dedicated team in the implementation of one of the world’s most complex and effective fishery management programmes for the North Pacific crab fishery made famous by the TV show “Deadliest Catch.” He later joined the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF’s) Arctic Programme to support fisheries conservation and management efforts across the Bering Sea from the Russian Far East to Alaska’s remote indigenous communities. In 2010, he joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served in Wailevu Village in Vanua Levu, Fiji, where he supported several grassroots marine conservation projects over two years. Since 2012, Bubba has worked as the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager for WWF out of Wellington, New Zealand, where he focuses on improving tuna fisheries management at a national and regional level in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean through policy improvements, market tools, and technological innovation. Among other fisheries related issues, Bubba has promoted human rights and labour justice in the Pacific through work targeting fisheries observer safety and security as well as crew welfare initiatives, recognizing that proper fisheries conservation and management is not possible without protecting the people prosecuting those fisheries.


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