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It is intended in this section to look at some actual processes and core points for coverage in MCS operations, which have been used with some success in various parts of the world. The section will touch on data collection and components for the system, boarding procedures, catch verification, navigational positioning, inspection procedures in port and at sea, transhipment verification, planning patrols, evidence gathering and handling, and prosecution procedures.

5.1 Data Collection

In the case of data collection, a major component of the monitoring aspect of MCS, there are two preliminary and one follow-up activity in which fisheries officials become involved. They are the fishers licensing information, the vessel registration system, and the catch or effort monitoring system. The fishers and vessel monitoring databases, whether manual or computerized, will necessitate an initial census of fishers in the country and specific information on international fishers. With the initial domestic census, the following information is usually included as it is useful for fisheries and MCS planning. The fisher information includes the name of the fisher, home address, age, experience in years and type of fisheries, whether fully or partially dependent upon the fishing industry, position in the fishing industry as a vessel owner, operator or crew member and a general average income from fishing. Further monitoring information by fishing trip, if included, is intended to collect and cross check fish catches, broken down by species and weights, area of fishing activities, time of fishing and finally, the returns from the fishing activities which can be used to calculate the efficiency of the fishing unit.

Vessel registration is intended to collect data which can be cross-linked to the licensing system, such as the description and size of the vessel, home port, call sign, where fish are landed, catch capacity in terms of hold and fishing gear type and capability, experience and efficiency as a fishing unit, the age of the vessel, outfit including communications, navigation and fishing gear, and processing capabilities, if any. The potential of regional and other international cooperation on developing and implementing standards for vessel registration have already been noted.

This census of fishers and vessels active in the domestic fishing fleet needs periodic updating, a task that can be facilitated through annual licensing procedures and appropriate report procedures during the fishing season.

Most of this information is used to ensure that the fishers and the fishing units act in conformity with the agreed fishing plan, but it is also used by the fisheries biologists to assist in stock assessment exercises. Fisheries economists and sociologists can use the information to determine the importance of the fishery to the national and community economy. The sociological profile of the fishers and their communities can also assist with enhancement of their position in the social and economic scale and provide support facilities where needed. Infrastructure, communications and data networks, is needed to support these data collection activities.

5.2 Fisheries Patrols

Fisheries patrols can be made more cost effective if planned with the view of integrating the surveillance resources to achieve the best results. All patrols should commence with pre-planning, a briefing of key participants to ensure that there are no surprises, the actual patrol, and a de-briefing on completion, with appropriate documentation for record purposes, or follow-up action as required.

Land patrols up rivers and along lakes and the coast can be effective if focused on fishing activity, areas of illegal activity of zones where the fisheries resources are particularly vulnerable to over exploitation by licensed and non-licensed fishers. Coastal areas, where domestic fishers operate and can be seen from land, can be watched for incursions by larger vessels not authorized to be in the area. This information can be relayed to coastal sea resources for action as appropriate.

Air patrols are most effective if the fishing areas denoted by season and species are known in advance. The air surveillance capability must be taken into consideration to determine the areas of priority, as endurance time of the aircraft will determine how many priorities can be addressed in a single patrol. The aircraft crew should be briefed on the patrol area and the expected activity in the zone, as well as the priority activities for surveillance. The air crew should also be provided with a summary of the vessels, their markings and authorized activities which can be expected in the patrol zone. Examples of patrol priorities might include a closed spawning area as the highest priority, then the aircraft might proceed at altitude to save fuel direct to that area and commence its lower level patrol activities from that point. This forward planning reduces fuel consumption and increases patrol time in the desired zone. Random patrols, without a focus, have been found to be less cost effective than directed patrols for a specific purpose. Another priority might be an area of fishing concentration where local fishers have noted incursions of offshore vessels into their zones at night with resultant gear destruction. Areas of heavy fishing concentrations where non-licensed vessels may hide during fishing operations could also be a priority. If stocks migrate close to the edge of, or beyond the fisheries waters of the State, there can be a temptation of offshore vessels to follow the fish into the zone if they believe the risk of the activity is small and they will not be apprehended. Air surveillance provides the front line information for the deployment of other more expensive resources, such as offshore patrol vessels.

Coastal patrols at sea are most effective if smaller patrol vessels can be pre-deployed to areas of fishing concentrations and operate from a base in this area to provide a timely response to fisheries conservation needs. In this manner, the patrol vessels can shadow the coastal fishing fleet for data gathering and verification and surveillance. The presence of a fisheries patrol vessel can also contribute to fisher safety, but this can be abused. There have been cases where fishers took turns to raise safety concerns to get a tow from the patrol vessel, thus putting the latter out of the patrol zone for a period while all the remaining fishers prosecuted the fishery in a spawning area.

Offshore patrol vessels, if it is decided that these are to be utilized, are best deployed to areas of concentrations of offshore fishing. Air surveillance is the primary tool which can detect area violations and unlicensed fishing activity. The patrol vessel can then be called to the scene, if necessary. More cost effective is the possibility of using diplomatic channels to bring the vessel to port, but this may not always be possible without greater international pressure than that which a single state can exercise.

It is obvious that each patrol vessel should have the necessary accoutrements to carry out assigned duties, e.g., copies of regulations and communication equipment.

5.3 Boardings

The decision as to whether it is safe to board due to weather is that of the master of the patrol vessel. The fisheries officer is the leader of the boarding team and as such it is the officer's decision whether the boarding party will actually board a particular vessel. On fisheries patrols there should be no doubt that the vessel is for support of the fisheries activity and hence the fisheries officer is in operational command of the patrol.

The fisheries officer must ensure that the master and boarding team are briefed on the boarding procedures and expected support and communications for the boarding. The fisheries officer should ensure that the team is aware of the latest data on the vessel to be boarded, its license and fishing capability, design of the vessel and, if known, the route to the bridge of the vessel. The fisheries officer should have the latest pre-patrol data on the catches and last reports from the vessel for verification with onboard records. The fisheries officer than checks that the boarding team is properly equipped with documents, inspection equipment, such as gear measuring devices, safety and communications equipment.

The fisheries officer should ensure that notes of observations of all activities on the vessel to be boarded and responses to communications are made from the moment the vessel is sighted. These observations may prove very useful if there is an alleged violation and can assist the prosecutor in developing the case. The notebooks of all involved are therefore useful tools for recording events and observations and should be used accordingly. Dates, times and events should be recorded faithfully by all fisheries officers and patrol personnel on the vessel and boarding team.

Many fisheries officers make up their own package, in addition to that issued, to assist in the facilitation of the inspection. Some states have formalized these into quick reference field manuals for the officers. They may contain information on the fisheries regulations, commercial fish identification, fishing gear, common phrases translated for use in questioning the vessel master, special vessel identification markers for each country active in the zone, check lists, communications information and signals for use in special situations, measurement conversion graphs, and others. The fisheries officer should be aware if other fisheries department officials are aboard and what their assigned tasks are.

The boarding brief should delegate the activities of each member of the team for the duration of the boarding and any special instructions in the case of hostilities or resistance. If hostilities break out during the boarding, each team member should be aware of the disembarking procedures. The communications link to the patrol vessel is essential if there is potential for a less than friendly reception of the boarding crew. There are cases when the boarding team consists of the fisheries officer and an assistant, but these are rare, a minimum of four persons should be in the boarding team. In cases when the reception may not be friendly, a full (minimum of six persons) and equipped boarding crew is advised. This would ba a team of approximately six persons; the fisheries officer, a navigating officer and an engineer with two or three crew, if these numbers are available. There is protection in numbers on occasion.

The patrol vessel and boarding boat should be identified as being on fisheries patrol in accordance with the Convention on the Law of the Sea. The procedures for halting the vessel and responsibilities of the fishing vessel master to receive the boarding party should be well defined in the fisheries legislation of which, if the vessel is licensed, the master should be aware. There are clear procedures in the international code of signals for visual and radio communications to the vessel to stand by to be boarded. The alpha, numeric flag signal, Sierra-Quebec-Three (SQ3) is the international signal indicating “Stop or heave to: I am going to board you” and may be used to signal the intent of the boarding team to the fishing vessel. The master of the fishing vessel may communicate that he will complete hauling the net or other fishing operations prior to boarding. If boarding would result in potential loss of fish or gear, the fisheries officer should respect this request. The master of the fishing vessel should steer a course to provide a lee side for the protection of the boarding party while climbing the boarding ladder. The fishing vessel may stop, but experience has demonstrated that it is actually easier for the boarding boat and team to get on the vessel if it keeps some way on the ship in the range of a few knots. It is possible to board comfortably at fishing speeds, but speeds, above 10 knots become more difficult, even for an experienced team.

Once on board the fishing vessel, the boarding team should move quickly to the bridge area. If a less than positive reception has been encountered, one crew member should remain at the boarding ladder. On the bridge, the fisheries officer should ask for the captain of the vessel and provide government identification which clearly shows that he is an authorized government fisheries official. He should request the assistance of the vessel captain for the inspection of the vessel. At this point there should be an indication if the boarding will encounter difficulties in cooperation or not. If no difficulties are indicated, the fisheries officer should carry on with the inspection.

If there is an indication of difficulties, a potential hostile boarding, then the team should fall into the operational procedure which should have been covered during the preboarding brief as to the action to be taken. These procedures will undoubtedly vary considerably, depending on the equipment and training of the boarding party. They could range from departure and diplomatic negotiations to securing the bridge and the vessel and sailing it to port. It is naturally best if the vessel crew can be convinced to cooperate. If threatened, the boarding crew must have the authority to take whatever action is deemed necessary to protect themselves. The conclusion of the boarding is a reverse of the procedure for getting aboard, with the fisheries officer usually being the last of the boarding party to leave the vessel.

Linguistic differences tend to pose an initial concern for both fisheries officials and the vessel master. There are two common solutions to this problem, one is to require the use of reports, logbooks and such that are issued by the State, in the language of the State. The responsibility then rests with the international partner to translate the information. Some countries and regional organizations complement this first step, or use a second step separately; that is, to obtain copies of the relevant reports, logs and documents from the international partner and translate them for the State's officers. A further tool is a small handbook of questions in the various languages with common numbering system so that the appropriate numbered question can be asked. This procedure has been used effectively by many international fisheries organizations. Most international organizations could assist in developing such materials. It is advantageous if there is a member of the boarding team who has the capability of understanding the language of the vessel.

5.4 Inspection Procedures

This section considers the actual at-sea inspection of the vessel. Following the preliminaries of introduction and identification of the fisheries boarding official to the master of the vessel, it is common to request the license and all the fishing logs related to fishing, transhipment, processing and storage of the fish. The ship's navigation log is also used as a check of position information. The engineering log is usually secured at this time as well to check the use of mechanical machinery. If there are any other fisheries department representatives or officials onboard, it is recommended that they be sought for introduction. If it is possible, a quiet and private discussion with these persons prior the inspection is recommended to ascertain of there are any fisheries matters that will warrant more careful scrutiny. An inspection focuses on data gathering for two purposes. The first is for surveillance of the fishing operations to determine compliance with the terms of the license and legislation, and the second is to gather data for the monitoring aspect of MCS and fisheries management. The verification of the logbooks should be sufficient to reconstruct the fishing activities of the vessel since entry into the jurisdiction of the State.

Most countries design their own boarding format to meet their data requirements and to facilitate computer entry, if available, and data cross-checking with other reports. Almost all reports have a section to identify the vessel, its license, confirm the name of the master, verify its activities over the period from entry into the zone, or from the last inspection. In the case of the latter, the report of the inspection should also be present. The boarding report normally has a section to record a summary of catches by species, effort and areas fished. A section on production, storage and transhipment is also usually included for recording, if appropriate.

Fisheries officers usually commence their inspections with a check of the licensed activity and verify that the positions and activities in the navigation/ship's logbook confirm that the path of the vessel is in compliance with the fishing license. Any reports made from the vessel to the fisheries department are noted and checked against their source. It is sometimes advantageous if the fishing log and catches, when summarized by the fisheries officer for the inspection form, are broken down into the same periods as that required by the State for the vessel reporting to the department. This facilitates cross-checking on arrival in port. The transhipment of fish by species and date is noted as well as the name of the vessel receiving the fish. Armed with this paperwork, the fisheries officer then attempts to verify the figures presented in the logs of fishing, production and transhipment through an inspection of the processing plant and the storage facilities. There are various conversion factors used in determining the production and storage of each type of fish and fisheries officers will, over a period of time become very proficient in determining these. In the initial stages of inspection of vessels, the factors used by the vessel master may be those used for the conversion of the processed fish back to the whole round weight of the fish. The inspection report usually includes space for the vessel master to comment on the report and then both the master and fisheries officer sign the report, the latter leaving a copy for the vessel.

The difference of at-sea inspections compared to port inspections has been noted. The latter does not permit the ability to see the navigation, fishing and processing equipment in action. The advantage of the latter is the ability to check the fish onboard the vessel in a safe and stable environment with a higher potential for accuracy.

5.5 Verification of Catches

One of the challenges of inspections when the management strategy is based on catches and quotas is the verification of catches. There are many different aspects to this process, the first being the type and processing, or product form of the fish in its final storage. It may be seen as a simple matter of counting boxes, but in a large fish hold with a capacity of 500–700 metric tons of product from several species, the task becomes onerous. In most cases, verification of catches becomes a mathematical problem.

The independent and accurate estimation of total catch by species on a set-by-set basis is the fisheries officer's/observer's most basic and important function. Often information from these estimates of catch composition provide the only reliable estimate of removals in certain fisheries, as traditional recording methods, such as logbooks, have generally yielded incomplete data.

Catch estimates must be both independent of those derived by the captain of the vessel and as representative as possible of what is occurring in the specific fishery. Domestic vessels, the catch of which is off loaded in a domestic port, are much easier to verify than a large offshore international trawler. Measuring techniques appropriate to each country can be assessed using various sampling methods on domestic vessels and verifying them against weigh outs on landing. The following provides a few general methods in use today which may be of benefit and can be re-configured for local use.

Estimation of total catch of trawlers

While a direct weighout is the best verification of the amounts caught, it proves impossible for most of fisheries due to the large catches involved. A number of estimating procedures have been developed to verify the total catch. The two basic methods commonly used on trawlers are:

  1. Observation of the catch in the codend

  2. Volumetric calculation of fish pre-processing holding bin capacity.

    There are two additional methods to both provide the estimates of the total weight and to verify the previously made estimates of total catch:

  3. Volumetric calculation of fish holds and use of production figures.

Further explanation of these methods follows:

  1. Observation of the catch in the codend: An estimate of the total catch may be obtained by knowing the capacity of the codend and approximating the percentage of it filled with fish, by taking a volumetric measure of the catch in the codend or by breaking the codend into smaller volumes to estimate these sections. The rough and ready estimate comes from a visual calculation. Vessel masters usually place the lateral strengthening ropes on their trawls at stress points along the cod end. These relate to a very rough approximation of one and one half to two tons of fish per strap when the cod end is full. This gives the fisheries officer a visual estimate before asking the vessel master for an estimate. It should be remembered that the master has been estimating this way for several years and consequently, the estimate received from the fishing master is probably much more accurate. This visual method is the roughest and most inaccurate for estimating catches. The sampling of smaller sections of the codend usually yields the best results.

    A basket, of known volume and weight, should be used to take samples of the fish in the codend. The vertical strengthening straps divide the codend into a number of sections. Each section should be broken down to an estimate of the number of sampling baskets (of known volume/weight) of fish contained there in. Due to the tendency for fish to pack more densely in the aft of the codend, each section of a codend should be treated separately. For smaller catches, the number of sampling baskets for the total volume of the catch in the codend should be estimated. Thus, the estimated number of baskets should be multiplied by the average weight of fish per basket, allowing for the variations in catch densities.

  2. Volumetric calculation of pre-processing holding bin capacity: Catch is usually stored in holding bins prior to processing. This presents a perfect opportunity to verify the initial estimate obtained by viewing the codend.

    The volume of the holding bin has to be determined and multiplied by the density of fish to calculate the capacity (the density of fish can be easily calculated using a small container/sampling basket). Once the holding bin capacity is known, the amount of fish in the bin can be determined by estimating the percentage of the holding bin filled with catch.

  3. Capacity of fish storage hold and use of production figures: The capacity of the storage area can be used to verify the initial estimates. The total fish hold capacity can be obtained by interviewing the captain or from ship's drawings and previous inspections.

    Estimating techniques vary considerably, depending on whether the fish storage is wet or dry. If it is dry and the fisheries officer can get into the fish hold, it is a matter of sampling the fish, probably frozen, in the boxes for product form and average weights of the product in the box. This should be done several times for each species and the box weighed separately for later subtraction of its weight. If possible, the number of boxes should be counted and the weights calculated using the average for each species. If it is not possible to physically count all the boxes, the vessel drawings should provide enough information for the officer to estimate the number of boxes in the fish hold using a mathematical formula to compensate for the vessel contours.

This estimate can be cross-checked against the number of boxes the storage manifest states there should be in the fish hold. The actual content by species will be very difficult to obtain without a physical check; consequently the storage manifest, or log, may be the only documentation available to address this point. It should be remembered that the purpose of a random sample and catch estimate is to assure the officer that the documents are accurate. An estimate will undoubtedly result in a difference from the records and the actual numbers of boxes in the fish hold, but it should be similar to the records. An officer's judgement is called upon before making a decision to bring the vessel to port for off loading due to the expense and consequences of such an action. If the latter is not accurate, the captain's estimate, coupled with a cross check of the catch and production logs should assist in making this decision and determining the potential level of inaccuracy in the records.

If the species has been wrongly noted in the log, it will be difficult to determine, but if the officer checks a random sample of the labels on the boxes, and where possible the product therein, it may be possible to ascertain if the practice of misreporting on the quota of a higher priced species is common. If misreporting of catch is found, it is grounds for the vessel to be brought to port for further investigation.

Assuming, however, that fish hold measurements and access to the hold are possible, the production log and storage logs become further checks as to the estimate in the hold. On factory-type vessels, the units of production (i.e. boxes) from a specific set can be tabulated, multiplied by the unit net weight and converted to round weight to check the accuracy of the initial estimates. The production log should note the fish processed to the current date and the storage log should note the fish boxed and stored in each fish hold. It becomes a matter of calculating the daily totals for the period, cross-checking these against each other and the estimates in the fish hold to verify if the records seem to be reasonably correct. It should be noted that the processed weight/production figures, using this method, are being used to verify the initial estimates of the retained portion of the catch. It does not include the weight of fish and offal discarded.

Catch estimation for other fisheries and product types

Other fisheries, using different gears, may necessitate a totally different approach to catch estimation. Below is a brief description of procedures used to estimate the catch in longline and purse seine fisheries.

  1. Wet or salt fish: The estimates for wet or dried fish such as salted fish, are very difficult to obtain due to variances in the types of salted fish; light salted and heavy salted. The duration of the catch in the salt, density, and also fish hold capacities again come into play in these estimates. Some countries have attempted different methods for these estimates using volumetric methods, salt densities and hold conversion factors. The Canadian fisheries officials at one time developed a computer programme for estimating salt fish in the hold of a vessel, but the luxury of computer access is not always available. This does however, show the difficulties encountered in making catch estimates.

  2. Longline fishery: The nature of this operation does not allow one to see the entire catch at once. Fish are coming individually on board and the number of individuals may be easily counted and multiplied by the average weight of fish (determined through sampling) to obtain the estimation of the total catch of the species. Occasionally, the fish is stored in a bin, or pen, on deck before processing. This gives an opportunity for volumetric calculation.

    Some longline fisheries (e.g., tuna, shark) present an opportunity to weigh all fish caught, provided appropriate scales are on board. In the absence of those, other vital measurements such as fish lengths can be obtained and translated into corresponding weights using tables.

    The estimate of the weight of large fish which are frozen whole, such as tuna, is very difficult to obtain due to the variance in the size of the fish and the storage. A sampling of the fish can produce an estimate for extrapolation, but these estimates are very rough. The best figure one can expect is from the receipt of weigh outs at the port of landing and through a cross check of the fishing and storage logs.

  3. Purse seining: In the case of wet fish storage, such as refrigerated circulating sea water (CSW) systems for herring as an example, several methods have been used. Herring, and possibly other fish, have a tendency to move to the bottom of the tank in a CSW system. One method is to drain the tank down to the top level of herring and dip the herring to see how much is left. This can be time consuming and the water has to be replaced to assist in off loading, as the herring are pumped ashore to prevent damage to the fish.

A second method is to weigh the herring as it is removed from the vessel after draining, but this is not always possible if the inspection is at sea, or in a port other than that designated for off loading.

A third method designed in cooperation with herring seiner captains themselves is most common. This method requires a pre-season calibration of the fish hold with the vessel in a stable, upright position. Marks are then placed on the bulkheads of the fish hold to indicate the level of water and fish in the space. These marks then are equated, through preset volumetric calculations using a common fish density, to a calibration card that provides an estimate of the amount of fish in the fish hold. This method requires the fisheries officer to check the for-and-aft trim of the vessel as well as the list. The vessel master then attempts to bring the vessel as close as possible to an upright position, possibly by swinging a boom or pumping and flooding tanks. The officer then takes a weighted tape attached to a large screen apparatus and lowers this into the fish holds until the screen rests under the water on top of the herring. The readings on the tape and the fish hold calibration table are then used to provide an estimate. This is done at least four times in each fish hold and then averaged. This dipping process is simpler than other methods and has received support from the industry as it is timely and easily carried out without considerable input from the master or crew.

Estimation of catch composition

While estimating total catch is not an easy task, an accurate determination of catch composition may present an even bigger challenge. Four basic methods have been developed to derive a breakdown of catch by species:

  1. Actual weighing of the catch by species: This method can be utilized for small total catches or with small amounts of bycatch species present in the total catch.

  2. Extrapolation from the surface area occupied: This approach involves the estimation of the percentage of the known area (usually surface of fish as it rests in the bunker) occupied by each species in the catch. These percentages are applied to the total estimated catch to obtain the weight of individual species. This method should be used with caution, since some species may not appear on the surface, due to different densities.

  3. Extrapolation from the random sample: A random sample is gathered from the catch and the estimate of the percentage weight of each species is made. This percentage breakdown is then extrapolated for the entire catch. This method has proven to be very effective for catches composed of fish of uniform size.

  4. Monitoring the catch exiting the fish holding bin: This approach involves tallying an estimated weight of bycatch species exiting the fish holding bin. The figures are subtracted from the total estimated catch to arrive at the estimated catch for the major species.

Estimation by production category

Once an estimation of the total catch and its composition by species is made, the final estimation, by production category, is performed. It involves the determination of a round weight of species retained for further processing and round weight of species discarded. Discards should always be estimated, or if possible weighed. They have to be subtracted from the total species weight to determine the retained weight.

A final variable in the calculation for fisheries records is the conversion of the product form back to the round weight of the catch, for this is the figure to be used for determination of the total catch which has been retained. The conversion factor from whole fish to product form depends on the efficiency of the processing equipment. Sharp and well maintained equipment, or experienced manual plant workers, can make a considerable difference in the conversion factor of the final product form.

The maintenance of the processing machinery can increase production by a significant percentage, and thus the conversion factor from processed to round weight will reflect a considerable difference in the estimate of fish onboard the vessel. If the factor for fillets is estimated to be 1.4, then 20 tonnes of product would convert to 28 tonnes of round fish. If however, the real efficiency of the plant is 1.6 for fillets, this same 20 tonnes of product becomes 32 tonnes of round weight, a significant difference. It is necessary to carry out such calculations to determine the catch efficiency of the vessel and to calculate the catch and effort and the portion of the quota caught by the vessel.

There are several variables in rough estimating methods which must be noted. Some of these include the space occupied by the fittings in the hold, the space between boxes, the contour of the vessel bottom and estimates of capacity for storage of boxes, especially if they vary in size and weight. There is also the variance in the weights of the boxes themselves. The difficulty in determining the type of fish once processed, such as fillets, is another potential problem. These points are noted to emphasize that without an off loading, it will be very difficult to make an accurate estimate. It is for this reason that the fisheries officer must use judgement when making the estimates, anticipate these variables, and consider the final figures carefully before making a decision regarding bringing the vessel to port under an allegation of misreporting. The latter creates a considerable loss of fishing time and cost to the large vessel fisher, and without justification, can impact severely on the credibility of the Department to carry out its duties effectively. The bottom line is tolerance. This may vary according to the circumstances at the time, the amount of fish onboard, the value of the fishery, the location of the vessel, the past performance of the vessel and master, etc.

5.6 Verification of Position

The verification of position of the vessel is a key requirement for any fisheries sighting, inspection, or prosecution. Surveillance aircraft are usually equipped with highly accurate positioning systems, many linked to automatic photographic equipment that shows the position of the aircraft or target at the time of the picture. This has been accepted in courts in many countries as evidence of the position and activities of the vessel, provided the continuity of the evidence has been preserved. In the case of at-sea inspections, it is common procedure to take a position on the boarding vessel just before conducting the boarding. The fisheries officer should ask the vessel master for the position of the vessel upon boarding and if there is a variance, the officer should watch the master take another fix. If the officer is not satisfied, and does not hold appropriate navigation papers, it is recommended that an appropriately certified deck officer from the patrol vessel take a fix on the boarded vessel. One deviation that some masters have used to avoid charges is the removal of a fuse from the equipment, claiming that the equipment is faulty. A trained navigating officer can usually determine if the master is attempting to avoid responsibility for possible illegal activities. A second common divergence can be achieved by a deliberate re-calibration of the equipment to give a false reading. It is for these reasons that it is recommended that an appropriately certified patrol vessel deck officer take the fix on the boarded vessel if there is a discrepancy in readings from the position indicated just before boarding. This deck officer will be the credible witness in court, if such action becomes necessary.

Ideally, both the patrol vessel and the boarded vessel will have global positioning systems which can be cross-checked. This satellite navigating technology is very accurate and the cost of such systems is now down to a reasonable level for surveillance purposes, midrange price is approximately $4,000 US. The FFA vessel monitoring system will link through such a system and not only provide regular position information as required in the license, but will also enable the shore station to interrogate the system on the vessel at any time for periodic, unexpected checks. This will greatly reduce the need for air surveillance for licensed vessels for position fixing and will also assist in determining the position of the vessel for boardings or any other activities when a position is required. Air surveillance, as noted earlier, will still be required to identify the activities of vessels without transponders, but this should be accomplished in a more cost effective manner due to easy identification of radar contacts without responses. Noting that all vessels may not have such technology, it is incumbent on the fisheries officer to have a working knowledge of common marine navigational systems and techniques for fixing the position of the vessel. The officer must be able to detail the procedures used in gaining the position and verification of the position of the vessel and an accurate determination of time of the fix. This will form the base for the verification of all the activities of the vessel while in the zone, and especially in the case of an alleged infraction of fisheries law.

Most larger vessels carry a variety of compasses, magnetic and gyros, radars, satellite navigation machines, omega positioning electronic equipment, sextant, direction finding equipment, echo sounders, fish finders and sonars as well as navigation publications for the area. A good general description is attached in the FFA's Fisheries Prosecution Manual, reproduced as Annex H. These pieces of navigation equipment and the observation of their use and status on boarding the vessel can be very useful in court proceedings. Examples of evidence that can be gained from observations and their use as evidence are also included in the aforementioned prosecutions manual, for example, one could note the course being steered upon first sighting the fishing vessel and check if it is the same as that given to the helmsman, the latter often being penned to a board near the wheel. The radar on a very short range, one mile or less, could indicate searching for a transponder from a fishing buoy, whereas the safety range is 10 or twelve miles. The satellite navigator often provides printouts of positions over a period and can show where the vessel has been. Direction finding equipment settings should be compared to the frequencies for the vessel's fishing buoys and cross checked with the course being steered. Echo sounders and fish finders could indicate the presence of fish being chased and prominent markings could assist in the determination of the course of the vessel over a period. The charts and logs indicate positions, times when freezers are operated, engines run and at what speeds and temperatures, etc. These observations can all assist in building and supporting a prosecution if an alleged violation has occurred. Notations as to whether the gear was warm on arrival, signifying recent use, engines functioning properly on the return to port and navigation equipment suddenly working accurately could all be points to refute claims of malfunctioning electronic equipment and the master not knowing where the vessel was in the ocean.

5.7 Transhipment

Transhipment of fish at sea is one of the most dangerous and difficult fisheries activities to monitor. It cannot be done effectively without a minimum of two persons, one on the delivering vessel and one on the receiving vessel. As the activity of two ships heaving in the sea side by side is a dangerous operation, the masters of both vessels will want to carry out the operation as quickly as possible. The fisheries officer, on the other hand, will want to ensure that there is an accurate account of the fish onboard the receiving vessel before the transfer and to have an accurate recording of the fish transferred. This will necessitate an inspection of the vessel receiving the fish before the commencement of operations and a very accurate monitoring of the fish transhipped, requiring time of both vessel masters. The difficulty in verifying the species and weight of the fish moving from one vessel to another is a challenge as this may require the officer's presence in the hold of the vessel, thus making observation from the deck of the movement of the fish impossible.

If a country refuses to permit the transhipment of fish inside its fisheries waters, then the vessels will, in all likelihood, tranship the cargo outside the zone and then apply to reenter to continue fishing. This will result in the loss of continuity of important data on the fish removals from the zone. This can sometimes be calculated from other records, but it cannot be verified and on some occasions, it is lost from the system. It is recommended that Fisheries Administrators, in designing their MCS strategy, use negotiations to encourage the vessels to tranship their fish in their ports. This might be done through an incentive of reduced port administration costs or procedures. The country would then have both the vessels in a stable, controlled environment where the accuracy of the transfer can be monitored closely and easily.

Another international concern which can partly be addressed through the encouragement for fisheries transhipment in port is the issue of obtaining information on fisheries support vessels involved in the transhipment. These vessels often fall outside various international safety conventions as these agreements do not include “fishing vessels”. On the other hand, these vessels often fall outside fisheries control mechanisms and remain unregulated. The tool of the fisheries license, supported by appropriate legislation including support vessels in the definition of fishing vessels, could be a step to implementing international standards and controls for these vessels.

The requirement to license, or at least register, these vessels as part of the international fishing fleets could be an issue for further consideration. Coastal States could consider similar licensing requirements for such third party vessels and hence, require compliance with applicable laws as a pre-requisite to operating in their zone. This thereby becomes a potential component of port State control for fishing vessels. With the coming into force of the Protocol to the Torremolinos Convention, these vessels would then be required to comply with safety certification under both the regular shipping and as fishing vessels.

5.8 Port State Control and FAO “flagging agreement”

Fisheries non-compliance occurs when the economic benefits gained outweigh both the potential of detection and the penalties. If there were a system in which the risk of detection is very high and the penalties are sufficient to create a high level of deterrence, then the opportunities and practice of non-compliance of fisheries law would be minimized.

The concept of port State control agreements for coastal zone management, environmental protection and fisheries is receiving attention from many sectors. Currently all arrangements for port State control exclude fishing vessels, but when the Protocol to the Torremolinos comes into force, fishing vessels will be required to comply with port State safety certification. This tool is potentially very attractive in sub-regions, regions, or even bilateral situations where States can agree on the benefits which can be derived from such cooperation. At present, the International Maritime Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations are both working on several initiatives which will enhance the role and potential benefits to coastal States from port State control. A paper by Fernando Plaza of IMO on the subject has noted the positive aspects and the concerns of port State control. In essence, the flag State has the responsibility of implementing the international maritime agreements to promote safety and environmental protection of the seas, but it can be through port State controls that countries maintain and monitor the current situation and ensure flag States have the appropriate information to carry out their responsibilities.

A present, there is a considerable network of port State control systems in Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. Initiatives are commencing in the Caribbean, Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, West and Central Africa, Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean. Current initiatives are focused regionally to maximize the benefits and cost effectiveness of the initiatives. The activities are centred on ship safety and marine pollution controls with respect to the ILO Convention, SOLAS agreements and MARPOL agreements. There has been a need identified for standardization of training and application of the controls and a code of conduct for the control officers, but there has been a marked improvement in the control and compliance of vessels visiting ports under such a system.

The potential of port State control mechanisms to include fisheries interests with respect to port inspections, safety certification, information exchange and regional standards and cooperation for fisheries control exists, and it could be a very timely and cost effective initiative, if implemented. If renegade vessels using flags of convenience were discouraged from such practices through the potential deterrence of being detained in regional ports, then the incentive to fish in such a fashion would cease. The use of a credible central agency with appropriate sensitivity for security could greatly assist in the implementation of port State controls for fisheries MCS.

FAO has been working for several years on establishing standards for fisheries throughout the world. The most visible examples include vessel markings, gear identification and marking and, more recently, the flagging of vessels fishing on the high seas and the responsibility for flag State enforcement. Coupled with this are the regional fisheries initiatives to promote higher levels of compliance for all vessels in the region. The FFA regional register and agreements for information exchanges and mutual use of enforcement infrastructure have been initiatives in this direction.

The recent FAO flagging agreement, the AGREEMENT TO PROMOTE COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT MEASURES BY FISHING VESSELS ON THE HIGH SEAS, will, when it comes into force, assist in the promotion of conservation practices on the high seas. Flag States will be required to register all vessels authorized to carry their flags and forward this information to FAO, be responsible for the control of said vessels, and their nationals onboard to ensure they fish in a responsible manner, share information on these vessels with the international community and act on information regarding activities of its flag vessels which undermine the effectiveness of international conservation practices. Countries party to this agreement will be making a commitment to international conservation of the fisheries on the high seas. FAO will have an information database on all fishing vessels authorized by member states to fish on the high seas throughout the world. This information will be of considerable use to developing countries in deciding to license vessels to operate in their own waters. Further, regional and inter-regional cooperation on information exchange regarding vessel registrations and activity reports will enhance the potential of detection and action in the case of fishing practices which undermine international conservation principles. This initiative by FAO is a step in the right direction for international co-operation and the establishment of international standards for cooperation, conservation and a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing.

5.9 Fisheries Prosecutions

One of the most onerous and important tasks for a Fisheries Administrator and officers is the successful preparation and execution of a fisheries prosecution. Many fisheries offenses have resulted in acquittal in the courts due to lack of proper preparation and training by all concerned with respect to fisheries prosecutions. The inability to successfully prosecute a case in court makes the expense and effort expended on fisheries MCS activities ineffective and a considerable waste of time and money. Most recently, both the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency and the ASEAN countries have compiled standard manuals on prosecution procedures for their regions. One suitable reference is the recently released FFA Fisheries Prosecutions Manual provided as a guide to fisheries officers who may have to prosecute a case without having past experience in this exercise.

The success of a fisheries prosecution stems from appropriate training and preparation of all individuals involved in the case. This commences with the knowledge of the prosecutor and the judiciary of fishing, the fishing environment, the management scheme and its importance to the economy of the state and the MCS activities required for the conservation of these resources. The fisheries officer may be required to prosecute the case or it may be left to another department not familiar with fisheries activities. The education and training of these individuals has been found to be best accomplished through realistic fisheries experiences, workshops, and mock trials. This education process is best achieved, as stated in the FFA manual, before anything happens.

As noted in the reference, “The best way of preparing to prosecute a fisheries case is to hold an exercise”.10 The advocate, judiciary, fisheries officers, interpreters, patrol vessel crew and officials from other departments can all benefit from visiting a fishing vessel and taking part in a mock exercise in which a vessel is boarded, inspected, detained and ordered to port and charged. The moot court can also prepare all parties for the type of questions and explanations and definitions that the prosecutor will need to be able to present to the judge to ensure an understanding of the alleged infraction. The organization in place and its efficiency in addressing the details of a detained vessel, cargo and crew, which can facilitate the process considerably, can also be tested during this exercise.

Fisheries Administrators should ensure that their field patrol staff are all trained to be very observant and to note details of the situation as soon as a vessel is sighted, until it is decided to order the vessel to port or to permit it to carry on with its activities. Observations with respect to the activity on the deck of the vessel when the patrol vessel comes into view are important. Hasty activity on the deck, dumping of gear or fish, fresh fish offal in the sea, sea birds feeding, ropes or gear over the side are all indicators of fishing. Photography with time and position notations are useful in these situations. If the vessel is acting appropriately, the photographs can be used for training future officers. The more observant the fisheries officer and accurate the notes, the easier it will be to reconstruct the events to decide whether to lay charges, which charges, and how to prosecute the case.

The fisheries officer should always keep in mind the fact that the judiciary are not on the scene and hence will want to be able to understand events unfolding in chronological order through the explanation of the officer in court. With this in mind, the officer may wish to continually remind him/herself, “What is the judge going to ask?” or “How do I describe this?” An example of an enforcement scenario can assist in pointing out some common observations in preparing a case.

The well marked Fisheries Patrol Vessel SEA PROTECTOR from a fictitious country, called OUR COUNTRY, has received a message from a recent air patrol that there appear to be several unlicensed vessels fishing twenty miles inside the fisheries waters of OUR COUNTRY. These vessels seem to come inside to fish at night and depart the zone early in the morning. Overcast conditions and cloud have prevented the air patrol from identifying the vessels, but their speed indicates fishing operations.

10 Coventry, R.J. (1991)

It is decided by the patrol vessel master and fisheries officer to circle the area indicated and approach the vessels in the early morning from an easterly seaward direction. This will place the patrol vessel in the sun until close identification is necessary and if the patrol vessel approaches at fishing speed the fishing vessels may not take notice until the former can get within range for identification of the vessels and activities. Sunrise is at 5:17 in the morning and the patrol vessel makes for its rendezvous with the fishing vessels at 5 in the morning. Boarding equipment is assembled, checked as ready for operations and issued during the evening. If firearms are carried, they are issued just prior to the commencement of the boarding in the morning. The boarding team and officers of the crew are briefed on the intended operation and tasks are assigned to each team member. The boarding team is assembled a half hour before sunrise, gear is checked and each team member is asked to repeat their tasks for the boarding. An officer on the bridge of the patrol vessel is assigned to note all activities during the approach and while the boarding team is on the vessel. Some of the questions the officer may note in the log could include:

  1. What is the time, weather, the sea state, temperature and direction of the wind and waves?

  2. What courses were the fishing vessels steering on the appearance of the patrol vessel, what speed and were there any changes on recognition of the patrol vessel?

  3. Is the sea calmer around the fishing vessel, from fish oil in the water, are there any dead fish or fish offal on the sea? Are any fishing gear, buoys or small boats visible in the water or visible on the vessel? Any lines over the side, bloody water or offal in the scuppers of the vessels? Any flocks of sea birds feeding on fish scraps? Any fish activity or the surface of the sea in the immediate vicinity indicating the use of fish baiting?

  4. Is the fishing vessel moving through the water, is its reduction factory working, any winches in operation, any radars operating, any communications heard on the radio? Do the patrol vessel sonars pick up any echo sounders in operations?

  5. What are the deck crew doing on first sighting and is there a change in level of activity, if so in what manner, stowing gear, dumping fish, what?

  6. What is the reaction of the fishing vessel on communication with the patrol vessel and orders to prepare for a boarding?

  7. What are the activities seen on deck during the period when the boarding team approaches the vessel? If hostile, warn the boarding team. What actions transpire on deck during the boarding team's inspection? Has any gear been switched off during the boarding as seen from the patrol vessel?

The minimum boarding team should be comprised of four, preferably six, persons including the fisheries officer, a member from the engineering department and a ship's officer. There should also be a boarding boat operator who drops the team and stands off the fishing vessel, prepared to pick up the team. On approach to the vessel the team should observe the activity on the vessel and note the presence of increased activity, fresh fish, blood or offal, gear in a position for fishing or possibly poorly stowed, winches hooked to fishing gear, diving gear or small boats on deck and wet from recent use.

On boarding, the crew should still be observing the deck and activities of the crew. If the boarding appears to be unopposed, the fisheries officer and boarding team, save one person to remain at the head of the ladder, should proceed to meet the captain and identify themselves. Requests should be made for the fishing license, ship's log, all fishing, processing and freezer logs, and the engineering log. Two members of the team should accompany the vessel crew when retrieving these logs, if this is possible. The activities ongoing on the bridge of the vessel should be noted at the time of boarding to determine if there seems to be a flurry of activity around the navigation chart or vessel logs. The settings on the various navigational gear should be taken at this time. The inspection should then be carried out in accordance with standard procedures identified during the briefing, observing the status of fishing gear, hot from recent use, fresh fish in the freezers, fishing gear wet, blood in the production areas. Photographs are a rapid method of indicating the state of the vessel and gear on arrival on the vessel. The master is asked to indicate the position of the vessel and to respond to questions regarding the activities of the vessel.

If the inspection of the vessel and documents indicates that the master may be fishing in a closed area without authorization, the master is then ordered to take the vessel to port for further investigation. There are several opinions as to when the master should be informed that there appears to be a violation and of the appropriate legal rights available under the law. If there is an intention by the fisheries officer to ask a direct question of the master as to whether he/she knew they were fishing in a closed area, or one where they were not licensed to fish, and this will be submitted as evidence in court, then it is prudent to inform the master of rights under the law before the question is asked. On the other hand, if the officer is determining the position of the vessel and asks the master to indicate the vessel's position, there may be no need to read the rights until it is determined at a later time that a charge, or charges, may be laid. This is an important point in law and it is suggested one check how this matter is dealt with in local legal practice, with and without legal rights being read to the master. Technically, one could argue that until it is decided charges are to be laid, the boarding is an inspection only and it is assumed that the master is innocent until further review of the circumstances surrounding the events. As such, it is not necessary to read the rights to the master and unnecessarily indicate that there may be any alleged infraction of the law.

At the point in time where the master is ordered to take the vessel to port, the reaction of the master and the fishing crew is very important to the safety of the boarding party. The cooperation of the master in this process should be duly noted, as well as the performance of the vessel and its navigation and engineering gear. The MCS Central Operations Centre and appropriate port authorities should be notified of the vessel's passage to port and its expected time of arrival (ETA), so that arrangements for accommodation of the crew and security of the vessel and catch can be prepared. Preliminary documentation for court appearances can be drawn up on land and officials representing the vessel informed of the vessel's port visit.

During the passage to port the fisheries officer may wish to consider the preparation for the case. These points are very well covered in the aforementioned FFA manual (see pertinent portions in Annex H), but some of the considerations going through the fisheries officer's mind could be:

  1. Is there a need for an independent expert witness(es) to check the state of the navigation gear, the freezers or the engine machinery?

  2. What evidence has been gathered and how strong is it? Has it been cross checked and verified through different sources?

  3. What certificates are needed to use the evidence appropriately in the case? Have all statements been taken and were warnings read to each witness when it was decided to proceed in this manner?

  4. Which witnesses will be necessary to the case? When should these be interviewed? On landing and with whom present? Are interpreters needed?

  5. which charge(s) should be laid and against whom? Are they summary or indictable offenses?

  6. Is all the evidence and are all exhibits secured, is there need for any more documentation? Are any other photographs necessary?

  7. What is the value of the vessel, fish and penalty which can be reasonably expected from the case? Is a valuation expert needed? This will be necessary for setting a bond.

  8. Can this be settled through an administrative procedure or does it need to go to court? What can happen if the fine is too high, e.g. abandon the vessel, and what follow-up procedures would then be necessary?

  9. What are the procedures for setting bail for the accused and what is a reasonable amount? Where can the crew and master be accommodated?

  10. Have all the notes for the case been completed for use by the prosecutor?

Armed with the answers to the above questions, the fisheries officer is ready to meet and brief the prosecutor and the Fisheries Administrator on landing in port. This briefing should be chronological and thorough and at the conclusion, the fisheries officer should have a list of recommendations of action to be taken, if there is acceptance to proceed with the case. The master should be formally charged, wintness statements taken and certified, if not already done, and the crew master accommodated. An appearance date should be set with the courts for as early as possible and the vessel, gear and fish should be secured in a manner so as not to result in spoilage of the catch. Evidence from the air patrol and statements from the air crew should be obtained and certified. The prosecutor should then review the evidence, exhibits and statements and then prepare the case for the appearance hearing.

Details for these proceedings and activities are appended, but it is sufficient at this point in time for the fisheries officer, if not the prosecutor, to remember the prosecution lays the charges and the court hears the plea of the defendant. The court then hears a summary of the case and decides, for a guilty plea the level of penalty, and for a non-guilty plea, whether there is evidence for proceeding to trial. The trial will commence with the case for the prosecution, followed by a cross examination of witnesses by the defense, the case for the defense and summary statements. This can be a lengthy process and hence the notes are doubly important to refresh one's memory of the events leading up to the laying of charges. Knowledge of international and national laws, observation, good notes and preparation will bring success to Fisheries Administrators in the prosecution of cases for serious violations of fisheries law.

Success comes from practice, experience, good fisheries law and an appropriate and professional MCS strategy and team of officers. It is hoped that this paper will assist all Fisheries Administrators in the enhancement or development of a successful MCS strategy.

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