Oceanic & Industrial Affairs

What is the Oceanic Division?
The Oceanic and Industrial Affairs Division manages and regulates the commercial tuna fishery in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) waters, as mandated under Title 51 of the Marshall Island Revised Code (MIRC). The fishery comprises purse seine, longline, and pole and line vessels fishing under various bilateral and multilateral access agreements. Further, purse seine and longline vessels operators purchase fishing days allocated annually to the RMI under the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Vessel Day Scheme (VDS). As such, the Division administers issuance of fishing licenses pursuant to fishing access agreements negotiated between the Authority and fishing industry partners. Licensed carrier and bunker vessels also operate in support of the fishery.

The Division oversees Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) activities using various tools and programs to ensure compliance with national, sub-regional and regional management measures. These tools include a newly established Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) operations center, electronic reporting, transshipment monitoring and arriving vessel intelligence analyses. Authorized officers also engage in enforcement activities such as at-sea boarding and inspections carried out by regional partners from time to time.

The MIMRA Observer Program, managed under this Division, collects vital scientific and compliance information necessary for the conservation and management of the key tuna stocks.  Observers are utilized for both at-sea fishing trips (national and regional), as well as in-port monitoring of transshipment activities.

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Electronic Monitoring (EM) trials
In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Marshall Islands Fishing Venture (MIFV), MIMRA commenced trials of Electronic Monitoring (EM) on a number of the locally-based foreign longline vessels operating inside the RMI EEZ in 2017. The EM program not only collects vital scientific and compliance information but more notably compensates the gap for data not accounted for by human observers.

A select few longline vessels have been equipped with on-board cameras to monitor the everyday activities on board the vessels – including setting and hauling. These cameras record every activity on board the vessels for a certain number of trips and upon completion of a trip, when they return back to Majuro port, the hard drives are checked and collected by EM staff and replaced with new ones. The collected hard drives are taken back to MIMRA’s EM room for analysis by our so-called ‘dry observers’.

Competent Authority
MIMRA has been working on setting up the national Competent Authority (CA) since 2011. It has taken some time but momentum finally picked up in 2019 when an in-house CA Advisor was hired to oversee the development of this work. Part of the work involves close collaboration with a number of stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health & Human Services (MOHHS), RMI Customs, RMI Quarantine, and RMI Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Once in place, the CA for fish and fishery products would enable approval of fish processing facilities/fishing vessel operators and certification of products that are deemed to have met the equivalent standards and requirements for exports to the European Union (EU) which is currently the world’s largest market for seafood products.

For more information regarding MIMRA industrial affairs, read the latest annual report here
For further details, contact:
Berry Muller
Oceanic Deputy Director
Mark Beau Bigler
Oceanic Chief Fisheries Officer