Martha Paul, a biochemist by training, sits in a modest office in Papua New Guinea’s bustling Lae.

Her role, however, is far from ordinary – she’s one of the line inspectors for the country’s seafood safety Competent Authority, safeguarding the quality of its fish and fisheries product exports.

Her path into food safety was serendipitous.

“I was in and out of jobs,” she recalls, “but when I found this, with my interest in fisheries, it just clicked.”

But it hasn’t been easy.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point), the bedrock of modern food safety, was entirely new to her.

“It was challenging, but interesting,” she admits.

Martha’s days are a whirlwind of document checks, product inspections, and rigorous on-site audits at canneries and aboard fishing vessels.

“The audits are where I really have to be on my toes,” she says. “You need to know the company’s systems inside out and be able to justify any criticisms.”

“People are becoming more aware of Food Safety and respect the work of the CA,” Martha observes. Companies understand the need for quality control. While workplace hazards exist, strong relationships and a professional demeanor keep things safe.”

Trainings offered by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), like the HACCP workshop she attended in Suva last month, has been transformative.

“It has shown the broader picture of food safety,” Martha explains. “I see my job differently now, and I’ve identified specific areas to focus on.”

Her rigor has real impact.

Martha recounts times when competent authority officers have had to stop production because of food safety issues.

“Companies understand very well the implication of unsafe food production reaching the markets which could result in damaging the reputation of the country and most importantly affect or shut down market accessibility,” she says.

Martha’s work as part of the country’s CA secures PNG’s place as a reliable exporter, safeguarding jobs and economic growth.

“It’s challenging, but never boring,” she concludes, “and knowing that I’m contributing to the sustainability of our fisheries makes it incredibly rewarding.”

The Pacific European Union Marine Partnership Programme, supported by the European Union and The Government of Sweden has been supporting the training of Competent Authorities’ officers on HACCP.

There are no comments yet. Leave a comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.