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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been assisting fisheries administrations in developing countries for several years to address the issues they confront in managing and developing fisheries. Assistance often takes the form of specialist advice on policy formulation and on strategies for management and development. This paper is an extension of that assistance.

Growing concerns of many developing countries include their current inability to control fisheries in their Economic Zones, the apparent high cost to do so, and the failure of some of the developed country fisheries which were formerly used as examples of fisheries management. The latter failures appear to have resulted from difficulties in implementing appropriate fisheries management strategies. In many countries there are no established systems for monitoring, control and surveillance of maritime zones to conserve their marine fisheries and associated habitats. Such countries need assistance in addressing this situation, to reap the potential benefits for their citizens from appropriate fisheries and marine resource management.

Although there is much written about MCS, there is no single document addressed to the Fisheries Administrator, (a term used to denote the fisheries authorities responsible for decisions regarding the fisheries in their country) with guidance and advice on how to introduce or strengthen the MCS capability of their country, sub-region or region. This technical paper is intended to fill this void and, consequently, is addressed to senior fisheries managers, primarily in developing countries. It focuses on MCS for coastal and offshore fisheries with attention to both national and foreign-owned fleets. This paper discusses: (i) the definition and context of MCS; (ii) design considerations for the components of an MCS system; and (iii) MCS operational procedures. Annexes provide additional details and examples of operational issues.

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