John Still Villi, lead instructor for observer training, and Edward Adiniwin, director for CMI’s Maritime Vocational Training Center, have just finished conducting several two-week Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) classes where students learn personal safety techniques, CPR and first aid, fire prevention and fighting, and occupational health and safety. Those who are over 16 years of age, pass the class and hold a high school diploma or GED are eligible to take the fisheries observer training course that commenced this week at the College of the Marshall Islands Arrak campus. Ten students have signed up for the challenge. These ten students are all males, but the instructors encourage women to participate. During the course the students will learn essential skills including geography and navigation in addition to basic math, English and computer skills. Students are also taught environmental laws regarding issues such as the proper disposal of waste at sea. Students must pass both written and practical tests in order to graduate to become fisheries observers.
The course is rigorous but has many perks. Tuition is covered by the National Training Council, and meals, housing, and transportation are provided for the duration of the course. Students also earn a weekly stipend. When they graduate in nine weeks they will be fisheries observers for the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority, ready to go to sea on purse seine and longline fishing boats and capable of earning $75 to $85 per day at sea. In port they can supplement their income as a port monitor, collecting and reporting data as vessels transship their tuna.
An independent observer is required on every purse seine fishing trip within Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) waters, which includes the RMI’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone. The observer keeps data and records that are turned in at the end of each fishing trip. Their reports are an essential part of PNA’s fisheries management system to prevent boats from Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activity. Data from each fishing trip is shared with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and MIMRA to help scientists determine best practices and quotas for keeping tuna stocks sustainable. The current class is scheduled to graduate in December.
Read more about this in the October 27 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.