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Kiribati: Pacific fisheries observer allegedly murdered aboard tuna vessel Win Far 636; company responds

Fisheries observer, Eritara Kaierua, was allegedly murdered aboard Win Far 636, a tuna purse seiner owned by Taiwanese company Kuo Hsiung Fishery. As an observer, Kaierua monitored endangered species by-catch and illegal dumping. The media reports that Kaierua is the tenth Pacific fisheries observer to die at sea in the last decade.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Kuo Hsiung Fishery to respond to the allegation in the report. The company's response is linked below.

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Article
25 July 2020

UN called on to investigate alleged murder of fisheries observer

Author: Radio New Zealand

17 July 2020

[...]

Greenpeace USA and the Association for Professional Observers have made a formal complaint saying the UN needs to intervene to ensure an effective and thorough investigation.

The complaint, submitted on behalf of the family of the deceased observer, Eritara Aati Kaierua, asks the UN to ensure observers are protected and those responsible for the death of Mr Kaierua are held accountable.

[...]

Greenpeace USA has called on the UN Special Rapporteur, Mary Lawlor, to intervene in Mr Kaierua's to ensure the investigation meets international legal standards, and the man's family receives full and effective remedies from all the responsible parties.

Read the full post here

Article
13 July 2020

Lives on the line for Pacific fisheries observers

Author: Koroi Hawkins, Radio New Zealand

14 July 2020

[...]

Eritara Aati Kaierua [...] sign[ed] up to become fisheries observer[...]documenting what's hauled in, checking the crews are obeying the rules.

But a few weeks into the voyage, the 40-year-old father of four was dead[...].

[...]

[...] [F]isheries observer [...] said the death highlighted the danger and lack of protections [...] and how years of efforts to tighten regulations to protect the vulnerable observer workforce have largely fallen flat.

[...]

One regional body involved with observer training and standards in the region is the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. Its director general, Manu Tupou Roosen, said safety was always a priority.

[...]

But these measures are not applied or enforced equally across the agency's 17 member countries, most of them small and with little resource. RNZ Pacific has been told by two people familiar with the industry that much of this equipment doesn't make it to the observers.

[...]

One solution touted is the use of technology instead of observers to monitor foreign fishing fleets, either through cameras, sensors or other means.

[...]

But not everyone is sold on the idea. Fishing companies are resisting moves to install cameras over the cost involved, while sub-regional groups like the Parties to the Nauru Agreement are also opposed.

[...]

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Article
12 July 2020

UN intervention needed on suspected murder case linked to Bumble Bee Foods parent company

Author: Greenpeace

13 July 2020

The suspected murder of an I-Kiribati fisheries observer in March of this year demands UN intervention to ensure effective and thorough investigation, according to a formal complaint by Greenpeace USA and the Association for Professional Observers (APO).

[...]

"[...] Greenpeace USA calls on the UN Special Rapporteur, Mary Lawlor, to intervene in the case of Eritara Aati Kaierua to ensure that the investigation meets international legal standards, and the family of Kaierua receive full and effective remedies from all responsible parties," says Andy Shen, Senior Oceans Adviser at Greenpeace USA.

[...]

"There have been at least 14 fishery observer deaths in the last decade, but not a single legitimate investigation. On paper the WCPFC appears to protect observers, but the reality is that they are still dying and disappearing. Flag States' lack of compliance, and the RFMOs' lack of enforcement and lack of transparency also contribute to impunity. Tragically, the families of these observers suffer from lack of remedy at the hands of regional authorities," says Elizabeth Mitchell, Executive Director at Association for Professional Observers.

Greenpeace USA and APO further call on the Special Rapporteur to advocate that RFMOs incorporate in their regulations that States comply with international standards on investigations of potentially unlawful deaths. Non-compliance should result in a determination that working aboard fishing vessels flagged to such State is unsafe and end their eligibility for the RFMO's regional observer program.

 

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Article
19 June 2020

Kuo Hsiung Fishery's response

Author: Kuo Hsiung Fishery

4 June 2020

[...]

In response to your fax dated on June 04th,2020, I would like to state that the matter is presently under police investigation and that the owners of the vessel are fully cooperating with the local authorities. This is what I am able to share with you. Thanks for your understanding.

[...]

Article
16 May 2020

Grieving family desperate to trace mystery fisheries observer

Author: Andrea Vance, Stuff

[...]

...Eritara Kaierua..dashed off the nine lines while aboard the Win Far 636, fishing for tuna in the south west Pacific. [...]

Within 12 days, he was dead from a head wound. Police are now investigating his death as murder.

[...]

Kaierua had boarded the rusting tuna-fishing vessel in Pohnpei, Micronesia in February. He was working as fisheries observer, for the Kiribati government. His death was reported on March 3 in waters off Nauru.

These watchdogs travel aboard fishing fleets, monitoring endangered species by-catch and illegal dumping.

[...]

Kaierua was found lying on the floor of his locked cabin with a brutal head wound and bruising to his neck.

An autopsy revealed the blow caused his death and on March 29, police opened a murder investigation.

Stuff understands he was found partially laying on his mattress which was on the floor. There was blood on his nose and there was food on his chest and neck.

[...]

Kaierua is the tenth Pacific fisheries observer to die at sea in the last decade. And his murder brought to light the mysterious deaths of two more i-Kiribati monitors in the last three years.

[...]

Taiwan's Fisheries Agency Deputy Director-General Kuo-Ping Lin said the Taiwanese government reported the death to the WCPFC...ordered the crew to stop fishing and sail to Kiribati. The agency began its own investigation.

[...]

...Kuo Hsiung Fishery...[is the] owner of the 30-year old tuna purse seiner, or the Taiwan Tuna Purse Seiners Association.

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