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About Us

Get to know more about the Pacific Islands Regional Fisheries Observers

To establish a set of common standards for observer training and accreditation among PICTs.  Early adoption of a common set of standards by PICTs as coastal states created a benchmark and pre-empted the development of WCPFC Regional Observer Programme minimum standards.  PIRFO thus gave the established national and sub-regional programmes of PICTs an advantage (over emerging programmes of non-PICTs) as being ready to provide observer services to the fleets fishing in the tropical tuna fisheries under the ROP. Vertical development of PIRFO also provides a career pathway in observing and enhance the capacity of programmes to provide services beyond observers through transparent and robust qualifications.  Providing a depth of observer services further benefits PICTs with greater employment, skill enhancement, and self-determination in the services they will provide through a cost recovery model.

PIRFO is a vocational training framework based on competency-based assessment of knowledge and skills for jobs associated with observer monitoring programmes.

PIRFO was developed to ensure consistent and auditable training of Pacific Islands field staff associated with observer programmes that would meet international expectations and could withstand scrutiny by third parties. A competency based system of training and assessment was considered most appropriate and fits with the current practice for vocational training. Competency based training and assessment (CBT&A) is underpinned by standards, or units of competency that define the levels of competence expected in the workplace for each job role.

  • A response to the need for vastly increased training needed to allow PICTs programmes to expand to meet the observer coverage requirement of WCPFCC measures.
  • Uniformity among all PICTs programmes to simplify WCPFC audit of standards.
  • Regional standards allows diversity of training sources.
  • Maximise employment to PICTs benefits in providing a full suite of observer services and an emphasis on cost recovery.
  • Provide transparent documentation for the over-arching observer data quality processes.

The 5th Regional Observer Coordinators Workshop (November 2004) PICTs observer coordinators gave unanimous support to the recommendation that a Pacific Island regional observer training standard be developed, formalised and adopted. This was reiterated at the 6th Regional Observer Coordinators Workshop held in January 2006. SPC and FFA were subsequently authorised to contract a consultant to develop competency-based training standards for Pacific Island Regional Fisheries Observers. SPC and FFA Secretariats’ collaborated with assistance from consultants established the resultant standard for training observers branded as the Pacific Island Regional Fisheries Observer training standards (PIRFO). This was reviewed and endorsed by the 7th Regional Observer Coordinators Workshop in November 2007


Certification Management Committee (CMC) and Ownership


 “Ensure PIRFO observers, debriefers, trainers and frontline managers are competent to carry out the duties required.”


 “The PIRFO Certification Management Committee is committed to overseeing the development and maintenance of standards for certification and training of Pacific Island Regional Fisheries Observers at all operational levels.”


ROCW-7 (2007) agreed to establish a Pacific Island Regional Fisheries Observer Certification Working Group and this group was to be tasked with PIRFO development quality control and to define the certification structure.  The intention was that the Observer Certification working group would become the Observer Certification Management Committee (CMC).

ROCW-15 (2015) concerned with a lack of governance for PIRFO developments charged a small sub-committee to meet as the first formal meeting of the PIRFO CMC and designated the SPC Observer programme Advisor to Chair the CMC and provide secretariat services for the committee.  The second and third meetings of the PIRFO CMC subsequently met on the last day of the ROCW16 and ROCW17 respectively. A meeting of PIRFO CMC4 is scheduled at the end of ROCW18. CMC is expected to meet in the margins of ROCW and, if necessary, at PIRFO Trainer workshops

PIRFO CMC Membership

This first PIRFO CMC recommended that its membership shall consist of:

  • PNA representative
  • Non-PNA representative
  • Chair of the ROCW
  • WCPFC representative
  • FFA representative
  • SPC representative
  • The CMC recommended that SPC (OFP) chair and provide secretariat services to the PIRFO CMC.

CMC operates as a shared regional entity resourced and funded via SPC and FFA. It is tasked with developing training programs, formal certification and effective quality assurance processes with regard to the competencies and specific tasks of regional fisheries observers. CMC is involved in the accreditation and audit process for third party training providers, as outlined in PIRFO Training and Certification Policy Manual (2009). . This consists of evaluation of documentation and audits by CMC to confirm assessment, moderation and quality assurance systems the training provider has in place.

PIRFO Ownership Summary

PIRFOs strength is through regional recognition by all Members. This is mostly due to the national agencies having ownership of PIRFO, including their involvement in course development and training.  Governance of PIRFO is through the PIRFO CMC. Moderation and secretariat duties of PIRFO and the PIRFO CMC is through SPC and FFA.